Mike Pence v. The Truth

Maybe Mike Pence thought he could do some damage control yesterday in the face of the considerable backlash his state is facing from his signing of SB 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He thought wrong. His appearance on This Week was cringe-worthy and his statements don't hold up well under closer inspection.

From Lambda Legal:
Gov. Pence myth: SB 101 is just like an Illinois law that then-State Senator Obama voted to support.

Truth: Gov. Pence fails to point out that Illinois has a robust statewide Human Rights Act that specifically protects LGBT people, just as it protects others in Illinois. Indiana does not. This matters because those seeking to discriminate in Indiana may claim that the lack of a statewide law barring sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination means that there is no compelling state interest even to enforce local ordinances providing such protections.

Gov. Pence myth: This law only reinforces established law in Indiana.

Truth: The language in SB 101 is so broadly written that someone can sue even without their religious beliefs having actually been burdened simply by claiming that is “likely” to happen.

Gov. Pence myth: SB101 is just like the federal law that President Clinton signed 20 years ago.

Truth: SB 101 is substantially broader than the federal law. It extends religious rights to all businesses, no matter how large and completely secular they are. In addition, the federal law can only be invoked against government action. SB 101 goes much further, inviting discrimination by allowing religious beliefs to be raised as a defense in lawsuits and administrative proceedings brought by workers, tenants and customers who have suffered discrimination in a business transaction based on someone else’s religious beliefs.
In a capitalist society there is only one quality properly used to discriminate against potential customers: their ability to pay.


  1. "I myself am a Buddhist, not a Christian. But I cannot help but think that if Christ ran a public establishment, it would be open to all, and He would be the last to refuse service to anyone. It is, simply put, the most un-Christian of notions."
    - George Takei

  2. Can someone explain why Indiana's RFRA is so pernicious, yet the nearly identical federal law signed by Bill Clinton is A-OK?

  3. Anyone wanting to know the facts of this issue rather than relying on hysteria should read this:

  4. Think Progress shows that’s not at all true. Yes, 19 states and the federal government have laws that contain some type of language prohibiting government from “substantially burdening” someone’s exercise of religion without a “compelling government interest.” But so far only Indiana’s allows a private citizen who believes their religious freedom is burdened by being forced to provide service to a class of private citizens – most commonly, LGBT Americans — to therefore legally deny those individuals service.

    The Atlantic’s Garrett Epps comes to the same conclusion as Think Progress: “There’s ‘nothing significant’ about this law that differs from the federal one, and other state ones—except that it has been carefully written to make clear that 1) businesses can use it against 2) civil-rights suits brought by individuals.” Arizona passed a similar law, you may recall, but then Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed it in the wake of boycott threats.

  5. As it states in this very post, when these laws are accompanied by strong anti-discrimination protections that include LGBT members of society they are not so pernicious as they are without them.

    The right needs to get the frack over themselves. They're not being asked to get gay married, they're being asked to take a picture or bake a cake, i.e. do their job.

    The one thing that is clear from all this is that bigotry against gay people is no longer tolerated. It will cost you. And it can all be avoided by treating everyone equally.


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