Law - Gay, LGBT Hub

Why Indiana's Religious Liberty 'Fix' is No Fix At All: Legal Analysis


PenceWithin a week, voices of reason forced Indiana's Republican governor and legislature to back away from a law that would have allowed almost any private party to claim religious freedom when it wanted to discriminate against gays. But the "fix" signed into law on April 2 simply returns us to the status quo in a state where discrimination against gays is okay in all but 11 communities. To some extent, we should be happy we're back to where we started; Indiana's original "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA) was a terrible, odious, discriminatory law. But we started at a place where being gay was grounds for denial of a slew of rights, so there's little cause for celebration.

The biggest "fix" is an amendment that would prevent individuals from using their supposed religious beliefs as defenses to discrimination claims. So, if a florist denies service to a same-sex couple wishing to get married, that florist cannot wield the sword of "religious freedom" to defeat the lawsuit. But it only applies to jurisdictions that actually ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Consider two same-sex couples wishing to get married: one is in Bloomington, the other is in Goshen. Bloomington is one of 11 counties or municipalities in Indiana that have protections against antigay discrimination. So Bloomington's florists cannot deny service to Bloomington's gays. But Goshen's florists live in a town where there is no law against discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. So the Indiana's RFRA fix offers no help for the gay couple from Goshen.

There are two take-aways from this series of events:

First, we have so much more to do. In Indiana, like many other states in the country, gay and lesbian Americans can be fired because of their sexual orientation. The "fix" to Indiana's RFRA doesn't change that. 

Second, elections matter. We wouldn't be playing these rearguard actions--namely, marshaling our forces to prevent terrible things from happening--if we got out to vote and elected our allies. We may not be able to achieve perfect equality overnight: that's not only an impossible goal, it may not even be a good strategy. But, at a minimum, when our progressive allies are in office, we have the opportunity to work (and work hard) for progress. Indiana, dominated by conservative Republicans, can only be places where we prevent the worst; we operate at the rearguard, not the vanguard, in these states.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, by electing to enact a partial "fix" to the state's RFRA rather than a wholesale repeal, the state kept a dangerous law on the books. As I discussed in my previous post on Indiana's RFRA, religious freedom laws, especially as interpreted by the courts, are bloated weapons of discrimination. Originally passed to prevent the state from interfering with religious minorities, these laws have become tools of oppression by privileging religious freedom over equality imperatives and having the expressive effect of suggesting that religious freedom trumps all. In a democratic society imbued with constitutional values of equality and fair treatment, religious freedom is just one of many values. RFRAs, therefore, open the door to discrimination.


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Ari Ezra Waldman is a professor of law and the Director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School and is concurrently pursuingWhat his PhD at Columbia University in New York City. He is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. Ari writes weekly posts on law and various LGBT issues.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) Says Activists Should Be Thankful Indiana Doesn't Execute Gays: VIDEO

Tom Cotton

Appearing on CNN Wednesday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said that critics of Indiana’s “right to discriminate” law should get “perspective” because the state doesn’t execute gay people, reports Think Progress.

Cotton also - incorrectly - suggested that Indiana’s law was the same as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) signed by President Clinton in 1993.

According to Indiana trial lawyer Matt Anderson, the Indiana law opens up “the path of least resistance among its species to have a court adjudicate it in a manner that could ultimately be used to discriminate.”

Yesterday, Dan Savage dismantled Cotton's argument in a segment over on MSNBC.

Watch both videos, AFTER THE JUMP...

Cotton has the dubious honor of support from the National Organization For Marriage.

Continue reading "Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) Says Activists Should Be Thankful Indiana Doesn't Execute Gays: VIDEO" »

Glenn Beck: Criticism Of Indiana #RFRA Will Lead To Christian Concentration Camps - VIDEO


Always level-headed and never one to catastrophize, Glenn Beck earlier this week said that attacks on Indiana’s ‘right to discriminate’ law will lead to people being placed in concentration camps and killed, reports Right Wing Watch.

Beck claimed that "gay activists will boycott, will make it uncomfortable, they'll smear them, they'll just ratchet up the hate" against business owners refusing to provide services to same-sex weddings.

"Let's stop forcing each other to do things. You don't change anything. That ends up in concentration camps. You just start grinding and grinding and grinding away until you're in separate worlds and nobody talks to each other and then, whoever has the power, round 'em up and kill 'em because those guys are the problem.”


Yesterday, 39 top tech leaders - including Yelp, Twitter, AirBnB and Evernote - released a joint statement supporting non-discrimination protections for LGBT people to civil rights laws around the country.

Continue reading "Glenn Beck: Criticism Of Indiana #RFRA Will Lead To Christian Concentration Camps - VIDEO" »

Apple, American Airlines, Microsoft Denounce 'Harmful' Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Bills: VIDEO


Human Rights Campaign (HRC) yesterday launched a statement supported by a number of corporations calling on public officials to defeat or abandon efforts to enact harmful anti-LGBT legislation being considered around the United States.

HRC_Red-LogoAmerican Airlines, Apple, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, Orbitz, Replacements, Starwood Hotels, Symantec and Wells Fargo have already signed the statement while other corporations are expected to sign on in the coming days.

HRC President Chad Griffin said:

"Business leaders have made it abundantly clear that these anti-LGBT bills undermine their core values and set dangerous precedents that stifle investment and economic growth. Anti-equality lawmakers who value corporate investments in their state should sit up, pay attention, and abandon these bills attacking LGBT people."

The HRC statement reads:

"Corporate leaders are speaking out against bills that could allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and other minorities -- several versions of which are actively being considered in states across the country.

“This proposed legislation is bad for business.

“Equality in the workplace is a business priority to foster talent and innovation, and these state laws undermine this core value.

“These state laws set a dangerous precedent that stifles investment and economic growth by jeopardizing a state's status as a welcoming place for employees to live and thrive, undermining the success of a business at large.

“It is unreasonable for job creators to recruit a diverse workforce from states that encourage businesses to discriminate against our community of employees or consumers.

“While these bills won't alter our commitment to equality in the workplace, this legislation sends the wrong message about the states in which we operate and threatens our core corporate commitment to respect all individuals.

“We the undersigned call for public officials to defeat or abandon efforts to enact this type of harmful legislation."

Yesterday, 39 top tech leaders - including Yelp, Twitter, AirBnB and Evernote - released a joint statement supporting non-discrimination protections for LGBT people to civil rights laws around the country.

Watch a report on a Christian pizza restaurant in Indiana that unfortunately cannot cater for your same-sex wedding, AFTER THE JUMP...  Stupid warning - the owners actually believe that people "choose" the "gay lifestyle."

Continue reading "Apple, American Airlines, Microsoft Denounce 'Harmful' Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Bills: VIDEO" »

Two Gay Killers Become First Same-Sex Couple To Marry In UK Prison: VIDEO

Mikhail Gallatinov Marc Goodwin

Two convicted killers have become the first same-sex couple in the UK to be married in prison, reports the Independent.

Mikhail Gallatinov (above left) is a convicted pedophile serving a life sentence for the murder of Adrian Kaminsky. Marc Goodwin (above right) was sentenced to life in 2007 for a homophobic murder that was described as part of a “gay-bashing spree."

4889940-largeThe pair married at a small ceremony in the visitor’s center at Full Sutton Prison, East Yorkshire.

Under the Marriage Act 1983, all prisoners have the right to marry while being detained.

Reacting to the news, Peter Benfold, whose brother was murdered by Goodwin, said:

“Hopefully they will strangle each other. It’s going to be terrible when they’re set free, given they’re both killers and one is a strangler and ­pedophile. It could be double trouble. It’s a marriage made in hell.”

40-year-old Gallatinov can be considered for parole next year.

Watch a Young Turks report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Two Gay Killers Become First Same-Sex Couple To Marry In UK Prison: VIDEO" »

Ted Cruz's Father Urges States To Defy Marriage Equality Rulings: LISTEN


Anti-gay activist and birther Rafael Cruz (above left) - father of and adviser to Senator Ted Cruz - has told state leaders to follow Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s lead by defying federal court decisions which strike down bans on same-sex marriage, reports Right Wing Watch.

Speaking on “Eagle Forum Live” with Phyllis Schlafly (above right) last weekend, Cruz senior said that states with marriage equality will soon force pastors to marry gay couples under penalty of prison:

“We need to realize that the attack on marriage is more than just an attack on marriage, it actually goes to the heart of religious freedom. What is going to come next and this is part of the danger of what may happen out of the Supreme Court in June, is that if marriage of anybody-with-anybody becomes a civil rights issue, then they are going to come to churches and force pastors to violate their religious convictions. And so it is going to come to America to where a pastor is going to be faced with a decision: do you obey a law that is not only unjust but violates your core principles, or do you obey God and face prison?”

Later in the program, Cruz suggested that President Obama is pulling a Frank Underwood by acting “like an emperor more than a president” in his obvious aim to destroy the United States.

In a moment of Christian clarity, when a caller suggested that citizens needed to start “killing judges,” the ever compassionate Schlafly said that murder could be seen as a step too far.


Continue reading "Ted Cruz's Father Urges States To Defy Marriage Equality Rulings: LISTEN" »


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