I know most of the time when it comes to politics here in the Tri-State I talk about Kentucky and Ohio, but every now and then Indiana catches some attention for doing something blockheaded, and today's Indiana House vote on a bill to enshrine discrimination into state law qualifies for sure.
The Indiana House of Representatives voted in favor of a controversial religious freedom bill Monday.
It’s a bill that opponents believe will lead to discrimination, but it’s also a bill that is supported by the governor and one that is now certain to become law.
That didn’t stop opponents from battling to the end.
Freedom Indiana, the organization that led the fight for gay marriage in this state, delivered thousands of letters to the office of House Speaker Brian Bosma in a final protest to the bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“We don’t want this bill,” said Katie Blair of Freedom Indiana. “It’s not necessary. It’s discriminatory and it makes our state look bad.”
And when the bill was called down for debate most of the discussion came from opponents who see it as a consolation prize for conservative organizations who lost the gay marriage fight.
Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) said she heard from clergymen who are opposed.
“They see it as state sanctioned discrimination,” she said, “particularly against gays and lesbians.”
“This is a made up issue,” said Minority Leader Scott Pelath. “It’s an issue made up for the purpose of being able to go in front of a few Indiana citizens and thump your chests that you stood up for certain social causes.”
Supporters insist that the bill would merely guide judges when the rights of two or more people come into conflict.
“Nobody in this General Assembly is advocating a bill that would allow people to discriminate,” said Majority Leader Jud McMillin. “Everybody wants the opportunity for people to practice the rights that they’re supposed to have in this country. This bill does that.”
So if a person says "I refuse to serve you because you are gay and that's against my firmly held beliefs" (or black, or Jewish, or a Bengals fan) and tosses you out of their establishment, that's 100% OK according to Indiana Republicans.
But in a post-Hobby Lobby decision America, that passes for serious legal thinking.