The outcry over Indiana’s new law allowing discrimination is valid. Arguments that “other states have similar laws” is not.
Many states have religious freedom laws, and they’re good laws. They prohibit the government from interfering with one’s religious practice, as provided for in the 1st Amendment. For instance, such laws protect a Catholic school that only wants to hire Catholics to teach their classes. That makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s the same concept that says a church cannot be forced to perform a marriage they disagree with. These laws often apply to various non-profit charities and businesses where it makes a difference who gets treated and/or employed. Charities often have religious foundations, for instance.
Indiana’s law is different. Indiana’s law explicitly allows for-profit businesses to have these same rights. Thus, Jim-Bob’s restaurant is allowed under this law to discriminate when it violates Jim-Bob’s personal religious views. “Sorry, my religion says no coloreds can sit at my lunch counter.” (This, of course, is exactly what we predicted would happen when the Supreme Court decided the terrible Hobby Lobby case, giving corporations a religion.)
This is unprecedented. Here in Pennsylvania, for instance, our “religious freedom” law specifically prohibits for-profit businesses from doing this.
If you want to open a business, you need to open it to everyone. Don’t give me that tired libertarian argument that the marketplace will solve this. It didn’t do that for a hundred years before civil rights laws were passed, and clearly it is not doing that now or else we wouldn’t even be discussing this. In some small communities, there may only be one store within close distance, so don’t go arguing that this is a minor inconvenience.
Bigotry has no place in our laws, and the government should be supporting the people who are being discriminated against, and not those who wish to discriminate.
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