EDITORIAL: Indiana’s RFRA bill in need of attention from General Assembly

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LEANN BURKE / THE DEPAUW

“Fix This Now.”

Those words in bold, white font stark against a black background on the front page commanded the attention of anyone who picked up Tuesday’s edition of The Indianapolis Star. Below, the paper ran an atypical front-page editorial about Governor Mike Pence’s need to take action against the current state of affairs in Indiana.

On Thursday March 26, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law with intentions of preventing the government from infringing on a person’s religious rights. This was followed by near immediate protest from citizens, businesses, activist groups and many others.

There are 19 other states that have successfully passed RFRA laws with far less controversy. This came as a result of the fact that these states simultaneously provided gay and lesbian residents with protected legal status.

According to an article on NY Daily News, Pence said he opposes the fix that many critics of the law have demanded: A statewide ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However as of Thursday evening he signed a measure intended to alleviate the fears of many citizens. “Last weekend I called upon the Indiana General Assembly to clarify that this new judicial standard would not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual as its critics have alleged,” said Pence in an official statement. Yet this still makes no direct remark pertaining to the rights of gay and lesbian residents of Indiana.

In this current moment Indiana is essentially being boycotted so now the state will wait and see if these new measure do anything to remedy this. Connecticut, New York State, Seattle, Washington State, Denver and San Francisco, just to name a few places, have banned some form of travel to the state. Artists such as Wilco have cancelled concerts. Businesses such as Angie’s List have put a hold to company expansions.

“Only bold action—action that sends an unmistakable message to the world that our state will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens—will be enough to reverse the damage,” stated the front-page editorial of the Star.

Are these revisions made by Pence “bold” enough? RFRA has sparked nationwide controversy; it is unlikely a slight revision in wording will be enough to quell the firestorm.

As a student run publication, The DePauw takes a stand much like the Star. In the nation’s eyes, Indiana remains stalled at a critical crossroads; this issue must be dealt with in the correct way. We believe every person should be treated equally. Each person has the right to walk into a place of business and receive identical treatment to the people who have come before and will come after.