On Tuesday, ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser and Jason Whitlock discussed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), suggesting it is discriminatory and hoping more athletes will come out against it.
Kornheiser brought up the RFRA by suggesting that Governor Mike Pence (R) is really feeling pressure to change the wording of the act “to make sure there is no permission for Indiana businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.” He said the last thing Pence wants is for this weekend’s NCAA Final Four–played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis–to be marred by talk of discrimination in Indiana.
Whitlock then asked, “Tony, do you hear that silence? That silence from athletes all over the country.” He said, “We’ve heard from teams and organizations, but the athletes that stepped out because Donald Sterling got overheard saying some inappropriate things to his mistress, [have] said nothing about this. [And] this is policy.”
Whitlock went on to say that athletes have to understand that “policies like this eventually come back to haunt black people.”
What does the skin color of someone have to do with a religious freedom bill? The point of the Indiana RFRA is not to give whites an advantage over blacks or blacks an advantage over browns or any other skin color an advantage over another. The act is, like the First Amendment on which it is based, colorblind.
Kornheiser’s immediate focus on special treatment for “sexual orientation” and Whitlock’s immediate focus on one race over another only further demonstrate the need for Indiana’s RFRA. Without it, special interest groups of all kinds will continue to use religious freedom claims as cover for ignoring the fact that business owners of all races and backgrounds have religious convictions that need protection as well.
Follow AWR Hawkins Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.