Understanding the RFRA
Over the past week we have heard the outrage over the RFRA in Indiana being signed into law. Many media outlets and opponents referred to this law as a LGBT discrimination law or a 'license to discriminate.' Influencers and large companies have cried foul and threatened to pull business from the state almost immediately after it's signing.
But in actually reading the law it is hard to discern what exactly it will do to further discrimination against the LGBT community. See, there is actually nothing in the law that specifically mentions members of the LGBT community, the law simply allows people to file claims or lawsuits against the government if they feel that their religious freedom is being infringed upon.
So why then is everyone outraged?
Well, we have a federal law that guarantees all people the right 'public accommodations' regardless of gender, race, religion, or national origin. This basically means a business that serves the public can't refuse service on these grounds. However there are no protections for the LGBT community, which means that technically under the RFRA businesses will have a defense in court should they be ordered by law to not discriminate against LGBT people.
This seems to be the general take away, but I have to admit the issue is EXTREMELY complicated on all sides. Initially, the federal RFRA was used to protect native Americans from issues arising from the use of peyote in religious or spiritual practices. They wanted to make sure the use of peyote would not be held against those who partake for religious reasons. At the same time the bill could also open the door to other issues, say a pharmacist denying medication on religious grounds.
In the end all the law will do is provide a defense in court, which may or may not work. People who feel that laws are forcing them to provide services could sue and use RFRA as their defense.
What we really all need to do here is make sure this law is used in the correct way to protect everyone's rights and we need to extend civil rights protections to those in the LGBT community. Once we do that, this part of the debate will be over.