Indiana has been grabbing headlines all week for its controversial law that some supporters–as well as critics–say would allow businesses in that state to deny service to lesbian and gay consumers based on the religious beliefs of the business owners.
Things became worse when the Republican Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, didn’t say “no” when asked earlier this week whether the law would allow businesses to invoke religious beliefs to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Legislators in Indiana said they would clarify the language of the law to make it clear that it wouldn’t allow discrimination against LGBT members, while also insisting the law did not allow for discrimination in its current form. It appears these lawmakers in Indiana are trying to pull the political wool over some peoples’ eyes.
Why would legislators be so quick to amend a law in which they apparently find no flaw?
As the week wore on, it took outcries from multiple prominent businesses and organizations, including the N.C.A.A., AFSCME, Amazon, governors in control of air traffic, and Apple, before Gov. Pence and top Republican legislators said they’d change the law to specify that it will not authorize discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Things were so contentious that on March 31, the major newspaper in the state, The Indianapolis Star, was so outraged by the possibility of the discriminatory law passing that they filled the top portion of that day’s newspaper cover with a giant black box containing white text that read, “FIX THIS NOW.”
USA Today said in an editorial that the originally proposed law contained alarming language that would make religious beliefs a legal defense against private lawsuits, and that another provision said the state can opt out of its obligation to defend its citizens–including members of the LGBT community–who are subject to discrimination.
As of April 2015, 37 states have legalized same-sex marriage (including Minnesota in 2012!) across the nation. With the Supreme Court’s ruling from October 2014 that overturned bans on same-sex marriage in a handful of states, it seemed that the national conversation revolving around the LGBT community was shifting with immediacy.
With all of the work that’s been championed by the LGBT community and supporters nationwide, these laws only work to take five steps backward on the progress we’ve made.
When states like Indiana insert provisions into laws that allow discrimination toward any of its citizens, it’s unfair, wrong, and a misuse of time. Period.