Not this again.
This Wednesday morning, the Indiana legislature will debate whether it should pass Senate Bill 66, a new and expanded Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Sound familiar? It should because right around this time last year, the Indiana legislature did the Exact. Same. Thing. A few weeks later, in a private ceremony where he was flanked by prominent anti-LGBT activists, Gov. Mike Pence signed the Indiana RFRA into law.
And how did that turn out? Indiana’s RFRA was rightly blasted as a law to allow religion to be used to discriminate and inflict harm. As a result, multi-million dollar conventions and even the NCAA threatened to cancel future events; powerful businesses like Salesforce stopped investment in the state; thousands of Hoosiers voiced their opposition; and #boycottIndiana trended on Twitter across the country.
In fact, the entire country watched the story play out and raised its collective voice to say that a bill that allowed religion to be used to discriminate and inflict harm in Indiana harmed all of America.
To stem this avalanche of criticism, the legislature passed a limited “fix” to ensure that the RFRA could not be used to undermine certain laws protecting against discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and employment, whether those protections already exist in localities like Indianapolis or will be enacted in the future in Indiana.
To further repair the state’s tarnished reputation, organizations like Freedom Indiana, the Indianapolis Star, and business leaders throughout the state urged the legislature to enact a statewide nondiscrimination law that protects LGBT Hoosiers.
Instead of being chastened by all of this, Indiana’s legislators are apparently suffering from amnesia. SB 66 would replace Indiana’s existing RFRA with a new RFRA that strips away that “fix” and undermines existing and future nondiscrimination protections. Nor does it propose safeguards to address other rights, including reproductive rights, the bill would put at risk. In fact, SB 66 is much broader in many ways. For instance, it isn’t limited to religion. It will upend Indiana courts’ careful consideration of the fundamental rights of speech, assembly, and to bear arms.
Not to mention, instead of advancing a bill that would actually protect LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination, the legislature will contemplate two seriously flawed “nondiscrimination” bills, SB 100 and 344, which are full of overbroad religious exemptions, include limited (or no) protections for transgender Hoosiers, and erode existing protections from discrimination for everyone in Indiana under state and local law.
These legislators have learned absolutely nothing. What is that old saw about “fool me once”?
Tell Indiana’s legislators in no uncertain terms: Oppose SB 66.