With the Supreme Court’s final verdict on gay marriage looming in the near future, some recently drafted state legislation has evoked a rally cry from gay rights advocates along with some high-clout names. Purporting to protect religious freedom, the bill flirts with the fine line between exercising that freedom and engaging in outright discrimination.
The Indiana legislature put itself in the line of fire this week with a bill that will potentially allow business owners and churches to protect themselves against participating in gay weddings. What does that mean? A wedding generally calls for flowers, a cake, and some pictures. The law would allow businesses owners with objections to gay marriage to refuse those services.
Ironically, a bill meant to protect business owners is turning out to be…bad business. The tech industry, already clear in their supportive stance of L.G.B.T. rights, expressed their disdain for the new legislation. According to Michael Barbaro and Erik Eckholm in the “New York Times,” several tech companies have pushed back. Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com cancelled all its events in Indiana last week. Gen Con, a convention that draws over 60,000 people to Indianapolis each year, threatened to move the event out of the state. Additionally, the founder of Yelp indicated that the company wouldn’t expand a presence in a state that allowed these practices. If that wasn’t bad enough the politicians and celebrities jumped on board, including Hillary Clinton’s damning tweet.
At what cost are states willing to publicly protect a relatively small subset at the risk of bringing down such an outcry? Proponents of this type of legislation even try to use that small number to justify the measures. But it’s a slippery slope. Legislating discrimination sets a precedent for more discriminatory laws, and to what groups will it be limited? Additionally, “religious beliefs” are a subjective basis for a law. Is there a way to ascertain a business owner’s concrete beliefs to justify their refusal of service…or will these laws provide a fallback excuse for anyone who simply doesn’t like gay people and now has an excuse to exclude them? Too many questions war against the passage of such laws, and, arguable, so does human decency.
Jeff Krigel is an attorney in Tulsa who focuses his practice on criminal defense. The Jeff Krigel Law firm is a full-service Oklahoma law firm dedicated to achieving your legal goals in a competent, trusting, and result oriented manner. The firm is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and handles criminal defense, as well as other legal matters in all Oklahoma Counties. If you have been accused of a crime, it is important to seek the help of a qualified attorney. We offer free consultations and have payment plans available. There is no reason not speak with someone regarding your case. If you have questions regarding your specific case, call for a free consultation. 918-994-2340