This week, Indiana became the 29th state to either pass a version of its Religious Freedom Restoration Act or have a state court rule that existing law already provided the essence of what it tries to accomplish.
In simplest form, RFRA allows businesses, under some (not all) circumstances to decline to engage in practices that conflect with their religious beliefs – like, for example, the Christian couple who refused to provide a wedding cake with a gay message to a same-sex couple.
Please note that the legislation does not allow a refusal of generic service. No one, for example, can put a sign in the store window saying “no gays allowed”, or refuse them basic services. Illustratively, if the gay couple had asked for a wedding cake to be made with no message on it, they could not have been refused. But it allows the store owners, within limited parameters, to exercise their religious beliefs while conducting business.
John McCormack, writing for weeklystandard.com, has an excellent piece on what RFRA is, in which he provides a map of its current status by state, which I am posting below:
As you can see, there are both “blue” and “red” states among them. This is not surprising at all, given that the original federal version of RFRA, written in 1993, was sponsored by Democrat Chuck Schumer, passed through the Senate by a 97 – 3 margin, and was signed into law by Democrat President Bill Clinton.
So why are state versions of this act, applicable to state law, so controversial?
Well, elections are going to be held in 2016. And there has to be some kind of rallying cry for the Democrat base. Maybe this is what it will be.
You might say “wait a minute. How can Democrats exploit this if a Democrat sponsored RFRA on the federal level, virtually every Senate Democrat voted for it, and a Democrat President signed it into law?”.
Good question. My answer is that virtually every Democrat also stated, on the record, that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). That did not stop them from acting as though the only person on the planet who said so was George Bush, did it? In fact they continue to do so even now. (FYI, presumptive 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was one of them).
All you need is media complicity, folks. And Democrats still have it.
My personal feeling on RFRA? As anyone who reads this blog knows, I absolutely support gay rights, including gay marriage. But I also emphatically support the free exercise of religion. This puts me in the position of wishing that people would just cooperate with each other instead of looking for a fight about something that doesn’t require one.
If the two women who were refused a wedding cake at that bakery had respected the owners’ sincerely held religious views and just gone to another bakery, everyone’s beliefs and needs would have been met. Instead they sued, put the bakery out of business, and pressed for a crushing financial penalty that would have ruined a young couple and their family. All because, based on that couple’s religious beliefs , they declined to write something on a wedding cake.
Is that fair? Is that reasonable? You tell me.