Indiana Senate Bill 101, “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” closes the door on homosexuals, opens to discrimination

Grace Lindsley, Copy Desk Chief

No shoes, no shirt, no  heterosexuality, no service

Indiana Senate Bill 101, titled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was enacted into law on March 26, 2015. Unfortunately, the only freedom this bill restored was the freedom of open discrimination.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, at its most base parts, allows businesses and individuals to refuse service, employment and fair treatment to any person based on their sexual orientation. In other words, it allows for open discrimination of LGTBQ+ individuals under the guise of “religious freedom.”

This is blatant discrimination and evidence of the very real prejudice that still runs rampant in America today against LGBTQ+ individuals.

Some people may argue that it is a business owner’s right to deny service to anyone, but I can’t help but notice the similarity between this argument and the one used in the era of Jim Crow to justify racism.

Business owners very much have the right to express their views and beliefs, but religious freedom has absolutely nothing to do with discriminating against other people, regardless of why.

Photo by Kevin Dooley
Photo by Kevin Dooley

Who a person is attracted to does not have any effect on another person’s Sunday church habits. Serving a lesbian lunch at a diner has nothing to do with the religion of the person behind the counter.

Saying that this bill “restores religious freedoms” implies that the people practicing their religion were oppressed in the first place, when in fact they were only prevented from practicing public bigotry.

There has been an intense backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters. Large protests and campaigns have been launched in response to the bill passing into law.

The outrage has been so intense that public backlash has come from media icons, corporations, organizations, and even other federal and local governments.

Washington state will not use any state funding for travel to Indiana until policies change.

Well-known companies such as Yelp and Angie’s List have shut down their operations in Indiana.

Several universities did not attend the basketball Final Four competition last weekend in Indiana.

Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from “Parks and Rec”) and the band Wilco, among others, have cancelled their appearances in Indiana.

The thing is, we know this is wrong. Most people recognize that this is a clear case of discrimination, which is why lawmakers are quickly backpedaling.

The fact that outrage has been so strong against Indiana may be the one silver lining that comes out of this story. It tells the world, and especially those who want to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, that we are not on their side, that we know better and that positive change is coming.

Freedom of religion is incredibly important, but it’s not what we need to be defending. It’s the people being persecuted under the guise of religion who need our support and protection.

At this point, what Americans need more than ever are more civil rights laws that guarantee the rights and protections of all individuals.