Law Professor ➠ RFRA Widely Misunderstood


Law Professor: RFRA Widely Misunderstood…

RFRA will be the squirrel for the 2016 elections.

Via Greensburg Daily

Two law professor said that the state’s new religious freedom bill is being wrongly interpreted to mean that it allows discrimination against gay and lesbian Hoosiers.


The law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless the government can demonstrate that the burden furthers a compelling governmental interest.[…]


However, Daniel O. Conkle, the Robert H. McKinney Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University, said business owners do not need such protection, because discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation already is legal in most of Indiana.


State and federal law prohibit discrimination only in five areas: gender, race, religion, national origin and disability. That means, for example, that a baker in Indiana cannot refuse to sell cakes to a customer who is African American or French based on the customer’s race or nationality. (He could still refuse to sell to them for other reasons, such as failure to wear a shirt or shoes.) That same baker in Indiana, however, would operate within the law if he decided not to sell cakes to a gay customer because of the customer’s sexual orientation.[…]


Conkle and Douglas Laycock, the Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, said that even in Indiana areas that have discrimination protections for gay and lesbian Hoosiers, such as Bloomington and Indianapolis, the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is unlikely to have any negative impact.


If, for example, a baker in Bloomington felt that his exercise of religion were unduly burdened if he had to cater a gay wedding, he could, under the state’s RFRA, try to get an exemption to the city’s law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.


Conkle said that such a case is extremely unlikely to happen, because if a Bloomington business owner were to discriminate against gay or lesbian community members, he would likely suffer significant negative press, boycotts and loss of business.

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