Opinion: Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act backpedals society decades

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Taylor Robinson

By TAYLOR ROBINSON
Indiana’s recent passage of its Religious Freedom Restoration Act gained national attention, including the attention of our own Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

During 2014’s lame-duck session, Michigan’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (MRFRA) was approved by the Republican House but has not yet reached the governor. This sparked an immediate debate, including a protest on the capitol’s front steps. However, the bill resides in the hopper.

After Indiana passed their law, which basically states that an individual or group can refuse service to someone simply based on their religious beliefs, the state responded with outrage. The difference with Indiana’s bill compared to other states’ RFRA’s is that it extends beyond government establishments and includes privately run businesses.

This became an issue particularly among the LGBT community. Businesses posted signs that read “No gays allowed,” “Straights only,” “We serve gays take-out only.” Does this sound familiar?

Separate drinking fountains. Separate bathrooms. Jim Crow comes to mind. Is this where this discrimination will take us, backpedaling decades?

Snyder took a firm stance in the early afternoon on April 2. He made it extremely clear that if such a bill came across his desk, his action would be to veto it if it’s a standalone piece of legislation.

“I thought it was appropriate to clarify my position. There are strong feelings on these issues. We’re working hard to see if there is a better way to address religious freedom and equality,” Snyder told The Detroit Free Press.

Snyder explained that there must be at least two separate bills to ensure avoidance of discrimination amongst the LGBT community when it comes to housing, employment, goods and services.

As a result of the infuriation of many, Indiana’s government worked toward amending the bill throughout Thursday, April 2. Around 6 p.m. Mike Pence, governor of Indiana signed the revised bill, thus protecting the LGBT community.

Yes. It is a beautiful thing when a community, a state, a nation, can come together and take a stance on an issue that a great number believe is immoral.

Yet, why the praise? Is it too much to ask that each individual treats one another with the same respect and love that he/she would expect in return?

Is a broken leg not still a broken leg? Should a doctor refuse care to a patient in need just because of a spiritual belief while physical needs of all races, genders, ages, sexual orientations remain unchanged and equally important?

Should a baker of a wedding cake decide whether or not a couple of the same sex doesn’t merit the same amount of love and affection as does the relationship of a hetero couple?

We still have a ways to go. America prides itself on the concept that it is a melting pot, consisting of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. We’ve come so far to fight against racial inequality, gender inequality and more.

Now we’re taking backward leaps by legalizing discrimination again.

I’m thankful that the masses can see the problem. But, it’s not enough.

A document such as Indiana’s RFRA shouldn’t have even made it to the governor’s desk in the first place. It’s 2015, not 1890.

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