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Opinion: Indiana’s new law is homophobic

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Despite signs that the Republican Party may finally be laying off their crusade against LGBT rights, Indiana has recently passed a new law that would allow legal discrimination. Part of an effort to supposedly defend the religious rights of the predominantly Christian state, this new law has opened the gateway for anti-LGBT groups to force their views onto others in what could be one of the last great battles on an issue that is gaining more support every year.

Called the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” its purpose is to “[prohibit] a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.” To put it simply, this means the government cannot infringe on religious rights, by giving businesses the same religious freedom rights as citizens. Yet there is more to this law than meets the eye. Because Indiana does not have a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, a business can deny service to a person who is LGBT based on religious beliefs, and the Indiana government can in no way stop them.

Why would the GOP do this? The party is long overdue for a rebranding because of the amount of extremism that has taken ahold of them in recent years. The public’s view on same sex marriage has also changed dramatically in the past 20 years, going from 65 percent opposed in 1996 to 54 percent in favor, as of last year. It’s even more surprising Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law, since he is a name among the GOP’s list of presidential hopefuls in 2016. Not only is this a problem with Indiana and their Republican Party but also with the rest of the national party. Other top Republican presidential hopefuls have come out in support of the law. Jeb Bush said “Gov. Pence has done the right thing.” Other possible presidential candidates in support of the law include Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum.

Politico Magazine has reported that “Pence’s 2016 Dreams Crumbled” because of outrage stemming from all across the country and his own state. A few states and cities have banned their employees from traveling to the state on business. The company Angie’s List has most famously canceled its plan to expand their Indianapolis headquarters. Apple CEO Tim Cook took to Twitter to criticize the legislation as well, saying “Apple is open for everyone. We are deeply disappointed in Indiana’s new law…” The NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, and the NBA both have also spoken out against the law. In addition, various events, conferences and conventions are considering leaving the state or already have.

Gov. Pence attempted to defend the law on This Week With George Stephanopoulos. Despite being asked multiple times for a yes or no answer, the governor stuck to his talking points. He did answer the question once, constantly going back to how important it was to protect the religious rights of the people of Indiana. When asked if he will push for a law to include LGBTs on the list of classes that cannot be discriminated, the Governor said “I will not push for that, that’s not on my agenda, and that’s not been an objective of the people of the state of Indiana.”

Pence’s entire argument for the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is that people’s religious rights are under attack. Yet, why is it that in an attempt to “give” a group a few more rights, the LGBT community can possibly face the same discrimination seen in the South before the civil rights era? The same religious based arguments used to segregate African Americans in the South can be used by anyone who wants to keep a person from buying from their store just because they love someone of the same gender. This law is inhumane. The fact that we’re almost two decades into the 21st century and there are right-wing politicians still trying to sneak in ways of allowing this kind of discrimination is despicable. The worst part is how many possible Republican presidential candidates are in support of the law. One of those people could be sitting in the oval office less than two years from now, and they’re perfectly fine with having a law that paves the way for discrimination. LGBT rights have been expanded dramatically since George W. Bush left office, and we can only hope whoever is elected in November 2016 won’t be someone who will reverse us from this course.

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