On Monday, Congressman André Carson joined other Democrats calling for a repeal to Indiana’s Religion Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was signed into law last week behind closed doors with the stroke of Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s pen.
“As a lifelong Hoosier, I know the love and diversity that Indiana has to offer,” said Carson, in a statement. “Last week, I was saddened and disappointed to see the passage of Indiana’s SB 101—a bill that allows discrimination under the disguise of religious freedom.”
“There is no place in Indiana, or anywhere in America, for a law like SB 101. As our country celebrates the 50th anniversary of several pieces of legislation outlawing discrimination and intolerance, Indiana’s Governor and members of the State Legislature have chosen to go back to America’s days of intolerance and injustice.
“I urge our state leaders to repeal this backwards law. The effects of discrimination are already being seen across our state and Hoosiers everywhere should not have to suffer the financial and social consequences that are caused by living in a state with such offensive legislation.”
Meanwhile, in the wake of national controversy surrounding RFRA, Republican Mayor Greg Ballard said that “Indianapolis welcomes everybody” and vowed that no one will face discrimination at the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four this coming weekend.
“Discrimination is wrong,” said Ballard. The mayor is asking that sexual orientation and gender identity be added to protected classes in state law.
RFRA backers have argued that the legislation was necessary to protect the rights of Americans to follow their religious convictions free from undue government interference.
Conservative activists and others who back RFRA have pointed out that there are already religious freedom acts elsewhere in the nation.
In response, RFRA critics point out that Indiana’s measure comes in the wake of legalization of same-sex marriage, is a broader law, and that Indiana lacks a state hate crime law and certain other legal protections for its GLBT citizens.
Anthem, Angie’s List, Eli Lilly, Emmis Communications and I.U., have expressed concern that RFRA will permit discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Gov. Pence has pledged that he will seek introduction of legislation to “clarify” that RFRA is not meant to promote discrimination.
Republican Gov. Mike Pence tweeted this picture from @GovPenceIN, his official Twitter account, showing himself signing RFRA into law with a group of 11 men and seven robed women, six of whom wore headcoverings. The RFRA signing took place in a private ceremony and was closed to the press.