A Gay Hoosier Lawyer Looks at Indiana’s RFRA: The Religious Bigot Protection Act
I’m a fifth generation native Hoosier (dating back to my great-great grandfather Noah Whaley, who was born in Indiana in 1820 and fought in the Civil War), a lawyer, and a gay activist. I’m astounded at the stupidity of my home state’s action in passing what it calls “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” just signed into law by Governor Mike Pence. While disguised as having something to do with the free exercise of religion, it has only one true purpose: to legitimize discrimination against gay folks. What does the statute say? I’ve read the statutory language, and here’s my report. First of all, the statute never mentions homosexuality. It simply allows a “person” (defined broadly to include individuals, organizations, corporations, and businesses of all kinds) to refuse to comply with an Indiana statute, regulation, administrative order, or municipal ordinance that mandates conduct that would substantially burden that “person’s” exercise of religion.