The barrage of criticism for Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act has backed Governor Mike Pence into a corner that no Presidential hopeful could possibly weasel his way out of. Pence’s answer to the problem is to flip-flop his position, offer some pleasant pro-gay sound bites, promise to “fix” the law and blame Obamacare.
That’s right. Mike Pence is now in favor of adding the LGBT community to anti-discrimination laws after telling George Stephanopoulos it was absolutely “not on the agenda.”
He assured the people of Indiana and his critics that if he went to a restaurant that refused to serve people based on their sexual orientation that he would not eat there. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow joked:
So, if you were worried that gay people might be refused service by a business in Indiana now, don’t worry. That could never happen because the state has decided to wield the grave threat of depriving businesses of Mike Pence’s personal patronage.
To cover himself for signing such an atrocity into law while still pandering to the right-wing Christian extremists, Pence blamed the whole debacle on Obamacare:
Many states have enacted [Religious Freedom Restoration Acts] of their own … but Indiana never passed such a law. Then in 2010 came the Affordable Care Act, which renewed concerns about government infringement on deeply held religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby and the University of Notre Dame both filed lawsuits challenging provisions that required the institutions to offer certain types of insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.
Last year the Supreme Court upheld religious liberty in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, based on the federal RFRA. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, the need for a RFRA at the state level became more important, as the federal law does not apply to states. To ensure that religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law, this year the General Assembly enshrined these principles in Indiana law. I fully supported that action.
Indiana enacted legalized discrimination against gay people because religious employers don’t want to offer insurance plans that cover contraceptives.
Interesting angle, Mike.
Pence is hoping he can make the firestorm caused by his mistake go away as the news cycle moves to Arkansas.