After finally succumbing to widespread criticism, Indiana governor Mike Pence has amended his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while his counterpart in Arkansas has done the same.
The original bill, which was signed into law last month, can be interpreted to allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community. Pence denies this was the intention, despite originally refusing to clarify if the law could be used in such a manner. Indiana legalized gay marriage last year, leading to suggestions that state Republicans introduced the law as a ‘last stand’ against gays and lesbians. If so it backfired tremendously, and the state was set to lose millions from organizations and groups reluctant to do business there because of the law.
Neither the Indiana law, nor the one of the same name passed in Arkansas shortly thereafter, mentioned LGBT people specifically, but opponents argued that the language was enough to warrant legal discrimination. Pence disputed this, claiming that the law wouldn’t allow discrimination of any kind, even in its original form. Nonetheless both governors decided it was best to alter their laws to make this more evident.
Pence, an expected 2016 presidential candidate, was likely pandering to the fundamentalist Christian demographic, similar to other likely candidates who were quick to support the earlier law. Ted Cruz said that “Indiana is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives across this country who are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks upon our personal liberties,” which would ironically include the freedom to attack others’ personal liberties. Basically, ‘the gays’ aren’t following the word of God, so their liberties don’t count.
That may be acceptable in some parts of the world, but not the Land of the Free.