Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
The Indiana Assembly passed, and Governor Mike Pence signed, a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” similar to Arizona’s SB1062 from last year, which was vetoed by then-Governor Jan Brewer under the threat of more boycotts of a state still reeling from boycotts sparked by anti-immigrant SB1070 in 2010. I mostly agree with WaPo’s Hunter Schwarz’ analysis on how it is playing out differently in Indiana.
While Indiana has begun to feel the heat from businesses (and the NCAA, which is hosting the Final Four in Indianapolis next week), it doesn’t face two particular pressures Arizona did: (1) hosting a Super Bowl the following year and (2) a pre-existing narrative that it’s an intolerant state. Arizona already lost Super Bowl hosting duties once before, in 1993, because it didn’t recognize Martin Luther King, Jr., Day as a state holiday. And coupled with the furor over SB 1070, the controversial immigration enforcement law Brewer signed in 2010, the state was on the verge of becoming known for intolerance, not a good thing for business and tourism. Brewer said she vetoed the bill because it would have created more problems than it solved, but it didn’t hurt that the state’s economy also could have suffered.
Schwarz did miss one crucial thing, though. Indiana’s bill is exactly like Arizona’s except that it has one additional important provision (emphasis mine).
Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.
Last year when the Chamber of Commerce types put the kibosh on SB1062, I pointed out a couple of times that one of the less-noticed reasons for doing so was that the bill gave any individual standing to pursue a legal remedy if s/he felt forced to violate deeply-held religious beliefs. That class of individuals would include employees, say, of hotels or restaurants refusing to serve gay couples or anyone else who were fired for that. Looks like the business lobby got that little problem taken care of. (This is similar to – and I’m just going to mention this for the 629,473rd time – how the AZ Chamber cut a deal with Russell Pearce in 2010 to strip employer enforcement out of SB1070 in exchange for their “neutrality” on it and a sure path to GOP victories in that year’s midterm elections.)
I also predicted that when SB1062 came back that the proponents would shrewdly stay away from attacking LGBT rights, which people are becoming increasingly comfortable with, and would instead emphasize the pressing need to let nosy nellies deny women reproductive health care in their own damn insurance plans. A new iteration of SB1062 hasn’t emerged in Arizona (yet) but here’s a snippet of Governor Pence’s statement on his signing of Indiana’s bill (again, emphasis mine).
“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.
“One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.
Pence is too decorous to say it but he means the slut pills. The God-botherers have clearly learned their lesson from the SB1062 debacle and (with the Hobby Lobby wind at their back) are putting slut-punishing at the forefront of all their efforts in the hopes of making the public forget wedding cakes and think instead of irresponsible floozies attempting to get out of their childbearing duties. It just might work.