Stand by for another battle in the Hoosier State. The state house has approved a bill which will provide protection to certain private business owners who choose to not offer goods or services to some customers based on strongly held religious views. The bill is expected to pass the Senate quickly and will be signed by Governor Mike Pence.
Controversial religious freedom legislation that could protect business owners who don’t want to provide services for same-sex couples is poised to become law in Indiana.
The Republican-controlled Indiana House approved the measure this afternoon on a 63-31 vote, largely along party lines. Five Republicans joined 26 Democrats in opposing the bill.
The vote likely clears a path for the hot-button legislation to become law. The Senate already approved a slightly different version of the bill last month and Senate author Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said he plans to concur with the House version, possibly later this week.
Whether the bill stands the test of the inevitable challenges or not, the language is at least fairly clear for the layman. If signed into law, it would restrain the government from “substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion” except in cases where the government can prove that it has a compelling interest to so intervene and that it is doing so in the least intrusive fashion possible. Analysts are citing the Hobby Lobby decision in relation to this one already, naturally, but in reality this is yet another bill which is almost entirely centered on the gay marriage support industry.
The reason such a bill winds up being so specific is that it’s difficult to conceive of many other commercial enterprises where a different demographic group could be similarly identified as clashing with a business owner’s religious freedom. There is no sector of goods and services where someone could make a viable argument against, for example, serving black customers or Jews or women. The marriage support industry is rather unique in this way, since proprietors may hold a fundamental belief in the definition of traditional marriage and wish to decline a service which is readily available at any number of other outlets who would be more than happy to serve the customer. (It’s not as if the wedding planning industry is exactly hostile to gays.)
The linked article makes passing mention of an anesthesiologist who didn’t want to anesthetize a woman who was getting an abortion, but that’s pretty much a red herring. In a case like that, the hospital in general and the surgical team specifically would be at fault. The facility either provides abortion services or it doesn’t, and if they prep someone for any surgical procedure without finding out that a crucial member of their team was going to refuse to perform their job, that’s on them. If they scheduled the surgery, they should have gotten another anesthesiologist. It’s apples and oranges from the wedding cake scenario.
I imagine that this legislation will be challenged within moments of being signed into law and then put on hold until it makes its way through the courts. We’ll check back on them later if any progress takes place.