In trying to defend a new law that critics say was designed to allow discrimination of gays on religious grounds, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence compared the controversial legislation to a similar — but different — Illinois law.
Pence noted that at the time it was passed in 1998, it had the support of an Illinois state senator named Barack Obama.
However, the “See! They have it, too!” argument doesn’t hold up, according to Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda Legal, a national gay civil rights group.
Indiana’s version of RReligious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is similar to an Illinois law passed in 1998 in that both state that government can’t substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion without a compelling governmental interest to justify that burden.
“The main difference is that Illinois has a law that expressly prohibits discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity, so any interpretation of RFRA would have to be interpreted in concert with this non-discrimination law,” Taylor said.
“Indiana has no such non-discrimination law, and the proponents of this bill rejected any clarification or addition that would acknowledge the importance of prohibiting discrimination,” Taylor said.
Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, left, D-Anderson, and Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, call for the repeal of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act during a press conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Monday. | Associated Press