Our View: Religious Freedom Restoration Act brings questions of discrimination


Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana recently signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law – it’s supposed to give for-profit businesses a chance to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.”

Those against the bill believe individuals and businesses can refuse service and discriminate against the LGBT community. Even though Pence said the bill wasn’t about discrimination, people aren’t backing down. That’s something to be worried about when there’s yet another political storm about how there may be another factor continuing to drive inequality problems.

Pence aggressively backs the RFRA and recently wrote in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal about how he wants “to make clear to Hoosiers and every American that despite what critics and many in the national media have asserted, the law is not a ‘license to discriminate,’ either in Indiana or elsewhere.”

The Indiana governor also said he would never eat at a restaurant with an owner that refuses to serve a gay couple. He specifically writes “As governor of Indiana, if I was presented a bill that legalized discrimination against any person or group, I would veto it.”

We can applaud Pence for saying the main intention of this law was to “make sure courts use highest level of scrutiny when people feel religious freedom is infringed upon.” He’s been brave enough to denounce national media about its reporting on the subject. He’s asking for immediate changes to the law after the outcry from LGBT organizations and other corporations.

Maybe he really doesn’t want to discriminate against certain communities.

But there’s a reason why people are still frustrated over the general idea of “religious freedom laws.” While Pence made a promise to not allow businesses to deny services to LGBT citizens, the fact there’s still uproar over that conversation shows how backwards our nation still is.

It’s not just about questioning Pence and this law at this point. The fuss over the RFRA is just one of many problems we’re just going to have to keep addressing as a nation and hopefully as engaged citizens.

It is 2015 – we shouldn’t have to be concerned about politicians and whether their laws will cause discrimination problems. We shouldn’t have to constantly live in fear over racial tensions when our nation has been a melting pot for so long. Politicians shouldn’t come forward and speak out only after citizens get angry about these issues. Why are we only talking about these problems after much public criticism?