What was meant to be a protection of First Amendment rights for all has been translated by opponents and proponents alike into a message of discrimination. That was never our legislative intent, and on behalf of our state, I am sorry for the hurt so many have felt.
Contrary to the questions our governor failed to answer on national television, the simple answer is, no, this bill does not provide for discrimination. We will clarify this even further to assure the public that our state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is a protection rather than an infringement.
The law was intended to protect the rights of all Hoosiers, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof.
After the Hobby Lobby case, legal experts determined that RFRA was needed in our state, and this bill would offer protection for all Hoosiers from the government’s overreach. It provides the courts with a judicial standard of review to better resolve and handle issues related to religious freedom, but only if government action impinges on individual rights.
In the past few days, many examples have been given of a store owner denying service to a member of the gay community. RFRA should not be raised as a defense for denial of services.
If the government was the one to overstep its authority and encroach on an individual’s freedom of religion, it is only then that RFRA could be used as a judicial standard.
This law was intended to be a message of inclusion; what instead has come out was a message of exclusion and that was never the intent. Along with the Senate president pro tem and other members of the General Assembly, we will work together on legislative clarification to address these concerns.
RFRA was never about eroding rights, but rather fortifying one of our First Amendment rights — the freedom of religion — a right that is enshrined to all of us regardless of sexual orientation.
-Brian C. Bosma, R-Indianapolis, is Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives.
This article appeared in USA Today. Click here to view.