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Religious freedom boundaries pushed too far: New law discriminates against LGBTQ community

By Ellie Schuckman   Opinions Editor

In lieu of several states recently passing “religious freedom” laws, the question of discrimination and individual beliefs have become increasingly entangled.

Just last week, Indiana became the 20th state to adopt a “religious freedom restoration” law, thus allowing businesses to refuse service to people if they were deemed to be going against one’s beliefs.

These laws are unjust and specifically target the LGBTQ community.

Supporters of the law have noted bakers who refuse to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding and florists who refuse to sell them flowers. It is abundantly clear that the law aims to give those bakers and florists a way to fend off inevitable lawsuits.

According to CNN, the law came after an “outcry from social conservative circles over incidents where business owners found themselves in hot water after refusing services to gay couples planning to get married.”

But what about the couple who simply wanted a cake?

It is 2015. How does making a cake for two people who love each other — regardless of their gender — go against religious views? How is that thought so much to bear that an individual can’t stand to make a simple cake?

Though Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who passed the law, has assured that it is not about discrimination, many are still up in arms, and some have even threatened to boycott businesses in the state.

“This bill is not about discrimination,” he said. “And if I thought it was about discrimination I would have vetoed it.”

However, according to CNN, “civil liberties and gay rights groups assert that the law could be used by businesses to deny service to people based on their sexual orientation and justify that discrimination on their religious belief.”

It is ridiculous how some people are so narrow-minded as to feel the need to deny others basic liberties because they feel personally offended. Religion should not be used as an excuse for a battle fought years ago — equality.

In modern society, it is mind-numbing that individuals still can’t simply accept one another for who they are. It is even more alarming that state legislators allow such prejudicial bills to pass with flying colors.

While Indiana is not the first state to pass such a law, Adam Talbot, a spokesman with the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, stated how those other states’ laws are “dramatically different in their scope and effect … Indiana is the broadest and most dangerous law of its kind in the country.”

The law states that governments can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion,” and those who feel that their religious beliefs are being impended upon can use the law to fend off lawsuits.

But what exactly a “substantial burden” is remains undefined by the law.

It is, presumably, up to the judge to decide when a case comes into play. Again, a major hole in this law. Each case could be seen differently all depending upon which jurors are assigned to hear it.

It is atrocious that laws are now being used to defend such childish behavior. People are people, no matter to whom they are attracted. A man liking a man or a woman liking a woman does not define who a person is. Someone loving someone else does not define who they are, and laws which give others the right to refuse them service is, in itself, an injustice.


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