* Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to use a new Indiana law to poach some of its businesses…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is jumping into the flap over that controversial new Indiana “religious freedom” law, seeking to even up the score some after years in which the Hoosier state has raided jobs from Chicago and Illinois. And perhaps he’s trying to do himself some re-election good, too.
In letters to more than a dozen Indiana-based firms, Emanuel writes that the law will subject gays and lesbians to “new discrimination,” harming both them and Indiana’s ability to attract top talent. And that, he concludes, is a good reason to consider shifting business and even their headquarters to Chicago, “a welcoming place.” […]
The law Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed last week and which he yesterday said would not be repealed “threatens Indiana’s 21st century economic resurgence by taking the state back to the 1960s,” the letter says.
“But (Chicago’s) great strength is the quality of our workforce and the fact that Chicago is a welcoming place,” the letter continues. “Today, you cannot succeed in the global economy if you discriminate against your residents by treating them as second class citizens.
“As Gov. Pence changes state law to take Indiana backwards, I urge you to look next door.”
* Meanwhile, our neighbor to the east has been comparing its new law to Illinois statutes. They’re missing something, however. The Tribune explains…
When Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a new state law that allows people and companies to claim a religious objection to doing business with same-sex couples, he pointed to Illinois and Kentucky, saying he was simply bringing the state in line with its neighbors.
But the Republican governor and possible presidential contender left out an important fact. While Illinois does have a law that gives special protections to religious objectors, it also bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. Indiana, on the other hand, has no such ban.
That distinction is crucial, legal experts say, because anti-discrimination laws are considered stronger than religious exemptions.
* Equality Illinois…
ILLINOIS LAWS AGAINST LGBT DISCRIMINATION PROVIDE BALANCE TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM STANDARDS
Statement by Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois
Equality Illinois denounces new laws in Indiana and under consideration in other states allowing the use of religious beliefs to discriminate and refuse service to LGBT people and other minorities, and rejects comparisons to the religious freedom law in Illinois.
We oppose legalized discrimination in Indiana under the guise of religious freedom. We are gravely concerned the new law will be used as an excuse to discriminate against the LGBT community there or anyone who visits, works, conducts business, or must travel in the state.
In acting as if the new law is a benign effort at ensuring religious freedom, officials in Indiana, Arkansas and elsewhere have cited Illinois as one state that already has such laws. While a religious freedom law has been on the books in Illinois since 1998, that’s only half the story.
Both the Indiana and Illinois laws say there must be a compelling governmental interest to burden a person’s exercise of religion, but only Illinois provides that compelling governmental interest in the LGBT-inclusive Illinois Human Rights Act and an active Department of Human Rights to enforce it.
In contrast, Indiana’s law will take effect in a legal environment that provides no protections from discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers or visitors. Neither are there LGBT protections under Arkansas law.
Illinois has a rich history of ensuring the civil rights of all peoples, including the LGBT community. Since 2005, Illinois has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Illinois law addresses hate or bias crimes based on sexual orientation. Our LGBT students are protected by robust anti-bullying measures. And Illinois enacted marriage equality through the legislative process in 2013.
In Illinois, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and LGBT-inclusive provisions of the Human Rights Act have co-existed since 2005 and function to protect a person’s religious freedom while ensuring equal treatment of LGBT Illinoisans.
* Politifact offers up the ACLU’s opinion…
Indiana’s law includes language that allows people to claim a religious freedom exemption “regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”
That language is absent from the Illinois law.
“The Illinois law was written and designed to allow someone to change the government’s burdens on people’s religious beliefs,” said Eunice Rho, American Civil Liberties Union advocacy and policy counsel. “The Indiana law specifically says you can use the law in a lawsuit even if the government isn’t a party.”
Ultimately, judges will have to interpret the intent of the Indiana law’s language. But that doesn’t change that there are differences between it and the counterpart in Illinois.
* From the Human Rights Campaign…
In light of Indiana governor Mike Pence’s appearance on ABC’s This Week to tamp down a national outcry over his decision to sign viciously anti-LGBT S.B. 101 last week, the Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement from HRC President Chad Griffin:
“Governor Pence’s calls for a ‘clarification’ of this destructive bill are phony unless the legislation guarantees explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers and includes a clear civil rights carve-out within the RFRA. If Governor Pence is right and he really doesn’t want to discriminate, he needs to prove it by protecting the LGBT residents and visitors truly at risk in Indiana. Anything less is a shameful face-saving measure.”
After criticism of the new law reached critical mass yesterday—including a statement from Indiana-based Angie’s List that they would be cancelling a planned $40 million expansion in the state in response to the new law—Governor Pence announced late last night that he would seek new legislation “clarifying” the law.
On This Week this morning, Pence offered scant details about any “clarification” legislation. He repeatedly refused to answer host George Stephanopoulos’s questions as to whether the law would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers or whether discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers should be legal.
Today’s headline explained here.
…Adding… From comments…
The new Indiana law allows individuals, religious organizations, and businesses to seek judicial relief if a person’s religious exercise has been “substantially burdened, or is likely to be burdened…regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” In contrast, Illinois law allows a person to seek judicial relief only against a government and only if that person’s exercise of religion has been burdened.
In Indiana, a private party can now claim religious rights in a legal dispute with another private party “regardless of whether the state or any governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” Additionally, a private party in Indiana can now initiate a claim of violation if their religious rights are “likely to be substantially burdened.” The party doesn’t need to demonstrate actual harm. Neither scenario is allowed under Illinois law.
These are major expansions beyond what the IL law states.
…Adding More… Another commenter pointed to this Atlantic piece, which is quite good…
(T)he Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. Willock. In that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply “because the government is not a party.”
Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision. Democrats also offered the Republican legislative majority a chance to amend the new act to say that it did not permit businesses to discriminate; they voted that amendment down.
But of course, this has nothing whatsoever to do with discrimination against gays!
…Adding Even More… From comments…
While most of the discussion of the Indiana law has been on LGBT discrimination, the impact is really much broader. Indiana does have civil rights laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, and disability in employment, education, real estate transactions, and public accommodations. The new Indiana law will eliminate the ability of the state Civil Rights Commission to enforce any anti-discrimination laws, and of individuals to pursue state court discrimination claims, when the potential defendant says his/her/its motivation was religiously-based.