To say that Indiana’s recent Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has been controversial would be a gross understatement. The legislation, as well as similar legal moves in other states such as Arkansas, have sparked waves of debate across the nation and even businesses are starting to get involved, including Apple. The company’s openly gay CEO has condemned the legislation as “designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.”
There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country. A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law. These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.