The beast has been de-fanged. Essentially, RFRA now does nothing.
Except, however, it reveals the prejudice of certain Indiana lawmakers and other national political figures who expressed support for RFRA. The intention of the law, despite Gov. Pence’s numerous attempts to defend it, was to provide a legal avenue for sexual-orientation-based discrimination. Rather than a backdoor attempt at discrimination, Indiana got a tsunami-sized wave of support for the LGBT community instead.
The newly revised RFRA states that the law does not, “Authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service.”
Read carefully. Although this revision is the first mention of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” anywhere in Indiana state law, it does not protect citizens on this basis. The revision only states that RFRA does not authorize discrimination based on the above traits.
This is not enough for many, including Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle, who wants the law wiped off the books. “Our position is that this ‘fix’ is insufficient. There was no repeal of RFRA and no end to discrimination of homosexuals in Indiana. Employers in most of the state of Indiana can fire a person simply for being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning. That’s just not right and that’s the real issue here. Our employees deserve to live, work and travel with open accommodations, in any part of the state.”
The economic pressure from big business influencers like Angie’s List and Apple forced national attention on Indiana lawmakers. Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his concerns and opposition in an op-ed in the Washington Post, in which he wrote, “on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms.” National media and rights activists held their breath to see how Governor Pence would address the financial consequences of this flawed legislation.