Over the last two weeks, there has been an uproar over bills about to become law in Indiana and Arkansas. If signed by their respective governors unchanged, these Religious Freedom Restoration Acts would have allowed individuals to refuse service to anyone if it conflicted with their religious beliefs. Much of the controversy was because many interpreted this to be license for florists and bakers to discriminate against LGBT couples looking to get married. Personally, I am not too bothered by private business owners shooing away customers because of their own hangups. I would actually prefer if these businesses took it a step further and posted their discriminatory policies online. It would save me time and gas money not having to pile four kids into the minivan to go visit these hateful establishments. The market will deal with these businesses and I do believe that the number of businesses that actually invoke these RFRA laws will be low because the truth is, discrimination is bad for business.
I’m not worried about cake and flowers. I will happily go elsewhere and do business with better people that are more receptive to my family. What troubles me is how these laws are so broadly worded that they may allow for government employees to refuse service. If a county clerk has a problem with me when I apply for a marriage license or refuses to process my homestead tax exemption because they don’t agree with my family structure, that is a problem that is not as easily remedied with going somewhere else. I feel that government officials, law enforcement officers, and healthcare professionals have a duty to serve the public, and if they can’t handle working with certain minorities, then they should resign and find another more insular line of work.
After much discussion, these laws were hastily amended in attempt to satisfy the public outcry. Let them eat cake. But I do not believe these fixes properly addressed potential situations in government, law enforcement and healthcare. And bills like this are still being considered in other states. I expect more reactionary measures like these will come up in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision coming in June, and the elections of 2016.