Views on Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

Erik Eckholm points to “eroding freedom in the name of freedom: … Over time, court decisions and conservative legal initiatives started to change the meaning of those laws, according to liberal activists. The state laws were not used to protect minorities, these critics say, but to allow some religious groups to undermine the rights of women, gays and lesbians or other groups.”

Michael Lindenberger: “Indiana doesn’t need a new law to permit businesses from discriminating against gay customers. It’s perfectly legal to do that right now … In Indiana, and in most other states, businesses who want to discriminate against gay customers face no obstacles under state law in doing so. The few statewide discrimination protections that do exist are mostly limited to employment, and often enough only cover government workers.”

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board argues that the controversy reveals a new intolerance that targets religion: “In the increasingly bitter battle between religious liberty and the liberal political agenda, religion is losing. Witness the media and political wrath raining down upon Indiana because the state dared to pass an allegedly anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The question fair-minded Americans should ask before casting the first stone is who is really being intolerant.”

Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post notes the flip-flop in economics of exclusiveness, given the current outcry: “This is an astonishing, and inspiring, turn of events. If in [economist Gary] Becker’s day firms feared that customers would punish them for inclusiveness, today firms fear customers will instead punish them for exclusiveness. If in the past, to stay competitive and attract the most desirable talent, you needed to be discriminatory, today the opposite may be becoming true. Hooray for markets being on the right side of history.”

The New York Times Editorial Board: “Religion should not be allowed to serve as a cover for discrimination in the public sphere. In the past, racial discrimination was also justified by religious beliefs, yet businesses may not refuse service to customers because of their race. Such behavior should be no more tolerable when it is based on sexual orientation.”

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