Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law Thursday a bill he claims will protect religious liberty in his state. Overwhelmingly approved by that state’s Republican-controlled legislature, the law allows businesses and workers, citing their religious beliefs, to refuse service to anyone they find objectionable. Of course, what the so-called “religious freedom” act really does is legalize discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people.
As a nation, we are moving decisively toward marriage equality — 36 states already allow it. For the first time, a majority of Americans, 56 percent, support same-sex marriage, according to a 2014 survey by NORC, an independent research organization based at the University of Chicago, and funded by the National Science Foundation. The Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on whether denying marriage to gay and lesbian couples violates the Constitution. That could clear the way for same-sex marriage nationwide.
Meanwhile, legislators from West Virginia to Hawaii are waging a hollow fight to join 19 states already on the wrong side of history. Hiding behind religious freedom, they’re pushing right-to-discriminate bills they say protect people unwilling to compromise their beliefs for business. And nothing, they say, is a greater threat to those beliefs than the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people.