Indiana’s GOP pols cave on bigot law, and bigots are furious

There’s absolutely no doubt what the intent of Indiana’s “religious freedom” law was, or why Indiana’s Republican legislature and governor enacted it. The push for the law came from social conservatives who want to be legally shielded from lawsuits when they discriminate against LGBT people; or, as CNN more politely puts it, “insulated them from the gay rights movement.” But in America’s changing social culture, it was a bridge too far.

Indiana’s political leaders, finally recognizing they must choose between Indiana’s economy and legalizing discrimination against gays, are backing down.

While they won’t repeal the law, as demanded by the state’s tiny Democratic legislative caucus, they’ve agreed to add language prohibiting businesses from using it as a legal defense against discrimination claims for refusing “to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing” based on “race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service.” (The “United States military service” is a nice face-saving touch, no?)

The social conservatives are livid. That’s their problem. They can stew in it. They’ve got it coming.

This tweak doesn’t, per se, expand Indiana’s state anti-discrimination laws to include LGBTs. (Some Indiana cities do have local ordinances that include gay people.) But it uses “sexual orientation” in a state law for the first time, and the Republican legislators engineering the “fix” to the “religious freedom” law suggest “that debate is coming soon,” according to CNN.

Of course, no one should trust them on this. They could enact such protections right now, in the revisions to the “religious freedom” law, if they chose. Not doing so manifests the continuance of their original bad faith in enacting that law in the first place. We should assume they will do no more than absolutely necessary to tamp down the firestorm that law ignited, and that they’re hoping they can put out the fire by tweaking that law, and then sit on their hands and wait for the impetus for broader protections for Indiana’s gays to die down with the passage of time.

It’s up to us, and the business community, to make sure they don’t get away with that by keeping their feet to the fire.

CBim5MAUgAAyogAImage: What they’ve wrought: One day after announcing they would not cater gay weddings, Memories Pizza is just a memory after its owner announced yesterday he will lock its doors. The power of public outrage is not to be underestimated.  




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