NEW YORK – The ACLU has issued the following statement in response to the Indiana legislature proposing amendments to address the harmful effects of SB 101, a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill:
“The events in Indiana over the last week represent a dramatic change in the way our country reacts to discrimination hiding under the guise of religion.
The Indiana legislature and the governor made a terrible and dangerous mistake, and they were met with widespread condemnation and a backlash that has hurt their state’s reputation and its economy.
The outcry – from businesses, religious organizations, community leaders, and millions of people inside Indiana and around the country – forced a change to the law.[pullquote] “The events in Indiana over the last week represent a dramatic change in the way our country reacts to discrimination hiding under the guise of religion. … The outcry – from businesses, religious organizations, community leaders, and millions of people inside Indiana and around the country – forced a change to the law. …”[/pullquote]
Because of these changes, the harm of the law has been lessened, but there remain significant problems that must be addressed.
With these amendments, the RFRA cannot be used as a defense in some kinds of discrimination cases. That’s a major improvement. But it still poses a risk that it can be used to deny rights to others, including in education, access to health care, and other aspects of people’s lives. While this is one piece of the solution, it is incomplete. Religious freedom is important, but it doesn’t give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others, discriminate, or cause harm.
This national conversation has shined a light on the fact that Indiana – as well as twenty-seven other states – do not have statewide nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people, meaning that discrimination is still legal in most of the country.
The work to stop these harms begins – but does not end – with a renewed push to update Indiana law to include protections for gay and transgender people, and ensure that no one is denied housing, turned away from a business, or fired from a job simply because of who they are or who they love.
People across this country have sent a strong message that they will not stand by silently while their friends, neighbors and co-workers are put at risk of discrimination.
That’s a lesson we hope other states hear loud and clear.”
[From a News Release]
NEW YORK —GLSEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, made the following statement on the status of the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in Arkansas and Indiana.
“Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s request of the General Assembly to recall the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is not enough. If the bill is not recalled or if Gov. Hutchinson does not veto it within five days, it automatically becomes law. Talk is not enough. The Governor needs to act. He needs to veto the RFRA bill now. [pullquote]If the bill is not recalled or if Gov. Hutchinson does not veto it within five days, it automatically becomes law. Talk is not enough. The Governor needs to act. He needs to veto the RFRA bill now.[/pullquote]
“Republicans in Indiana have taken a good first step in developing language that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Ultimately, however, as in Arkansas, there is no need for a RFRA in the first place, and there never has been. Where is this same sense of urgency to protect the well-being of LGBT youth – the majority of whom in Arkansas and Indiana are harassed and ostracized in school every day – to be in safe and affirming school environments where they can thrive like their classmates? That is what our political leaders need to be focused on.”
For additional data on school climates for LGBT youth, click here.
GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Celebrating its 25th year, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
[From a News Release]