On Thursday, Indiana Republicans in the state legislature caved to pressure from the left regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which simply preserved the right of religious people to act according to their rights in their businesses, so long as those principles did not conflict with a “compelling state interest.”
The amendment to the RFRA actively states that service providers may not use the RFRA as a defense if they refuse to serve people based on sexual orientation. Presumably, the Indiana legislators hope that the RFRA will still protect service providers who refuse to serve same-sex weddings, since failure to serve same-sex weddings is not the same as failure to serve gay clients. But that is a flimsy branch upon which to build an argument for freedom.
In caving to the demands of the left, the state of Indiana actually enshrined more special rights for gays and lesbians than had existed before the RFRA was passed. Indiana law made no reference to sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination statutes prior to the RFRA; now the RFRA itself will be used as a weapon against religious Americans in Indiana who believe that homosexuality is a sin, since the law affirmatively prohibits a religious freedom defense with regard to failure to serve gays and lesbians.
Indiana legislators are so frightened that they plan to expand state anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation explicitly. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said that such legislation “needs to be discussed.” Bosma said that while the law did not discriminate against gays and lesbians, “it was the perception that had to be addressed.” He added, “All we can say is we are sorry that misinterpretation hurt so many people.”
He and his colleagues ought to be sorry, given that they were happy to make noises about defending religious liberty when it was politically convenient but now plan to use the government to encroach upon it.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.