Left-wing politicians declare Indiana open for business after state caves on religious liberty
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, April 8, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The mayors of several far-Left cities on the West Coast are sending Middle America a message: There's money in backing down.
Last week, the mayors of the California cities of Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland instituted bans on taxpayer-funded travel to Indiana. So, too, did the mayor of Portland, Oregon, and the mayor of Seattle, Washington.
Those bans were implemented in light of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed people with sincerely held religious beliefs a day in court if they felt a government policy restricted religious liberty more than necessary.
Critics said the law, which is modeled after a 22-year-old federal law and 19 other state measures, constituted "anti-gay" bias on behalf of Indiana governor Mike Pence and Indiana's legislature.
In light of the criticism from Republican and Democratic politicians, as well as numerous, high-powered CEOs, Pence and the Republican-controlled legislature passed a so-called "fix" to the religious liberty law.
That "fix" convinced all of the above cities, with the exception of Berkeley, to reverse policy and once again allow taxpayer-funded travel to Indiana.
However, the revised Indiana statute may do more harm than good. In a statement released last week, Becket Fund Senior Counsel Mark Rienzi said that Indiana's law never approved discrimination against individuals with same-sex attractions.
On a press call LifeSiteNews was party to, Rienzi also said that the revised law would significantly limit religious liberty in Indiana. He cited as an example that a Mennonite -- whose beliefs would not allow service to the military -- would be forced to serve a military event if the Mennonite's business was approached.
"Our country has had over 20 years of experience with RFRAs and we know what they do: They provide crucial protections to religious minorities. The key disagreement is over what should happen in a very small class of cases where individuals are asked to participate in a same-sex wedding in violation of their religious beliefs. In that situation, there are two possibilities: (1) Our government can drive religious people out of business, fine them, and possibly even imprison them; or (2) our government can say that these religious people deserve a day in court, and that courts should carefully balance religious liberty with other competing values."
"The original RFRA would give people their day in court; the proposed 'fix' would be a green light for driving religious people out of business," said Rienzi. "Our society should not settle this issue by punishing religious people before they even have their day in court."