Indiana’s RFRA does not grant a license to discriminate. First of all, the state of Indiana, like 28 other states, has never prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation at public accommodations. Even without such laws in most states, discrimination doesn’t commonly occur because the United States is a nation that is tolerant of gay people and intolerant of bigots. Mean-spirited actions by a business owner anywhere in the country would almost certainly be met with a major backlash.
It is true that several local ordinances in Indiana prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but RFRA does not declare that those ordinances are invalid if someone requests a religious exemption. Again, RFRA simply establishes the balancing test courts must apply in religious freedom cases.
As Stanford’s Michael McConnell told me last year, RFRA hasn’t yet collided with public accommodation laws. But what if they do? “For the most part, I think the public accommodation laws are going to win out,” McConnell said. “But I could imagine a circumstance where you have somebody renting out a bedroom in their house, and they have children they’re trying to bring up in a particular way, and there would be some very specific conflict with their religion that I could imagine. If the couple could go anywhere and it’s no real interference with their ability to find housing–these cases are just not all one way or the other. They depend powerfully on the particular circumstance.”