Have questions about the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act? The Heritage Foundation's Ryan T. Anderson and Sarah Torre have answers.
Won’t the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act allow business owners to refuse service to LGBT people?
No, and no one is interested in refusing to serve gays and lesbians simply because of their sexual orientation. And no one has ever successfully used Religious Freedom Restoration Act to defend such actions. As law professor and religious liberty expert Douglas Laycock—a same-sex marriage supporter—notes:
I know of no American religious group that teaches discrimination against gays as such, and few judges would be persuaded of the sincerity of such a claim. The religious liberty issue with respect to gays and lesbians is about directly facilitating the marriage, as with wedding services and marital counseling.
Religious liberty concerns typically stem from those involved in the wedding industry being penalized by the government because they declined to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony.
There are now numerous cases of photographers, florists, cake makers and farmers being forced to participate in celebrating same-sex weddings in violation of their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. These are citizens who have no problem serving gays and lesbians but do object to celebrating same-sex weddings.
Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump other values or rights. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible. The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, like all similar laws, doesn’t determine the outcome of a particular case. It simply provides a way for citizens to go into court to have their individual case reviewed by a court.