I’m not a politician so there’s no political agenda in this look at the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In fact, I’m having a hard time understanding all the furor over it…especially from Democrats. President Obama himself backed the bill when he was an Illinois State Senator although he now opposes it. Senator Chuck Schumer introduced the Federal version of the bill on March 11, 1993 although he now opposes it. It’s kind of difficult to not see politics as a factor in all the hoopla since Illinois enacted it over the weekend. Especially when 20 other states previously had the law in effect.
The RFRA will not allow neighbors to discriminate against neighbors or gays refused service at restaurants. What it will allow is something akin to allowing a Quaker to set forth his religion as a bar to his being drafted because his religion, which is his fundamental First Amendment Right, would be impinged upon by making him do something that is nowt permitted within that religion.
So, while the RFRA will not permit the owner of a bakery to refuse to sell a dozen doughnuts or a pie to a gay person because they are gay¸ it will allow that baker, if a practicing Christian, Catholic, Orthodox Jew or Muslim, to raise as a defense the RFRA in refusing to make the wedding cake for a gay couple because it violates a fundamental right and impinges upon that right.
The test for infringing upon a fundamental right is what is known as “the compelling state interest” test. This means that if government (say for example in a discrimination case brought by the gay couple) seeks to infringe upon what is a First Amendment fundamental right it must show a compelling state interest that outweighs the fundamental right. Since the gay couple could easily have their wedding cake made elsewhere but the barker could not dismiss his religious practice nor should he have to, the RFRA would prevail. It’s a balancing test that must be applied in every individual case in which the RFRA is brought as a defense.
I suggest before the CEO of Apple, Angie’s List or any other person goes off half-cocked that they read the First Amendment, the RFRA, the compelling state interest test and then decide if their politics isn’t outweighing their intelligence.
There’s a personal test they should take.