The fallout over various state-level ‘religious freedom’ laws, which critics say authorize discrimination against LGBTQ people, continued into Friday, with civil rights advocates calling on politicians to reject similar measures around the country.
On Thursday, the governors of Indiana and Arkansas both signed bills aimed at clarifying their states’ controversial ‘religious freedom’ laws. Indiana’s revised law explicitly bars businesses from denying services to individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In Arkansas, the Religious Freedom Reformation Act was amended to mirror the federal version of the law.
But the ‘fixes’ signed Thursday did little to placate the activists, businesspeople, and lawmakers who said such laws should never be passed in the first place.
Calling for a statewide nondiscrimination law, Freedom Indiana’s Katie Blair acknowledged that the changes “represent an important step forward” but still fall short “in many ways.”
“Statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers still do not exist,” she noted, “meaning discrimination is still legal in most of the state.”
Which is why the National LGBTQ Task Force on Thursday launched the nationwide ‘Nix It Now’ campaign, urging politicians to reject similar discrimination laws being floated in states including Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, and Texas.
A Time magazine map shows that ‘religious freedom’ bills already exist in 19 states and are pending in at least six others.
“Politicians across the nation have a critical choice to make: do the right thing by rejecting Indiana-style discrimination laws or do the wrong thing by supporting these laws and thereby transforming their states into no-go areas for LGBTQ people and our allies,” said Russell Roybal, deputy executive director for the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.
“The self-motivated politicians who peddle these laws in the short-run become the opponents of freedom in the long-run,” Roybal continued. “We urge all politicians to nix discrimination now by rejecting discriminatory laws and passing strong non-discrimination laws.”
In an op-ed published Thursday at The Hill, Roybal explained further:
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT