A powerful new editorial in Indiana's biggest newspaper has urged swift action on a religious freedom law that has roused the nation.
The front page of Tuesday’s Indianapolis Star newspaper was given up to feature a message from its editorial board to Gov. Mike Pence: fix the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “now.”
“Only bold action — action that sends an unmistakable message to the world that our state will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens — will be enough to reverse the damage,” the front page editorial reads.
Indiana has found itself in the national spotlight following the passage of a religious freedom law that critics say will allow private businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. Amid protests and calls for a repeal of the law, Gov. Mike Pence has continued to defend it.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Tuesday, Gov. Pence said the law was a reflection of existing federal legislation, and denied it was intended to permit discrimination:
I abhor discrimination. I believe in the Golden Rule that you should “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore. As governor of Indiana, if I were presented a bill that legalized discrimination against any person or group, I would veto it. Indiana’s new law contains no reference to sexual orientation. It simply mirrors federal law that President Bill Clinton signed in 1993.
On Tuesday, the Star’s editorial board says the governor and General Assembly doesn’t necessarily need to repeal the law, but they do need to provide expanded protection to the LGBT community to ensure discrimination in “housing, employment, education and public accommodations” can’t just happen.
“ Those protections and RFRA can co-exist,” the editorial reads, noting that states like Illinois have religious freedom laws, but also have laws to offer protection to gays and lesbians.