Is RFRA Used to Discriminate? Becket Lawyer: ‘I Can’t Think of Any Case’

Mike Pence

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text](CNSNews.com) – While controversy continues to swirl around Indiana’s recently enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which some are calling a state-sanctioned license to discriminate against gays and lesbians, Senior Counsel Lori Windham of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit public interest law firm, said she “can’t think of any case where RFRA has been used successfully to defend discrimination.”

[/vc_column_text][banner300 banner=”5517620b381df”][vc_column_text]“The Supreme Court said long ago that the government has a compelling interest in eliminating racial discrimination, and that’s the test that is used in RFRA for when the government may restrict religious freedom,” Windham told CNSNews.com.

“There have been a couple of cases, like the photographer in New Mexico, where people have asserted religious objections to participating in a same-sex wedding. Those cases also involve other important rights, like free speech,” she added, pointing out that “the wedding photographer lost that case.”

Signed by Republican Gov. Mike Pence last week, Indiana’s new law bears strong similarity to the federal RFRA of 1993, and “Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.”

Indiana’s RFRA also “provides a procedure for remedying a violation,” which includes allowing a person who believes their rights to religious expression have been violated to bring their concerns before the courts.

References to sexual orientation or gender identity are not found in the three-page piece of legislation.

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