Letter: Religion bill equals legislative malpractice

From: Marilyn Hayes


“FIX THIS NOW.” That was the headline March 31 on The Indianapolis Star’s front-page editorial. According to their reporters, it was a first. It dramatized the urgency the people of Indiana feel about the action of their governor and legislature in crafting, passing and signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Matthew Tully, political columnist for the The Star, noted last night on TV that it has done significant damage to the state’s reputation but far worse is the loss of business — millions going forward. His column on April 1 says Gov. Mike Pence is not up to the job but was just fine as a mere talking ideologue in Congress representing a gerrymandered district.

Star reporter/political analyst Tom LoBianco reported that the RFRA was a consolation prize for the Republican legislators who were denied by the courts their legislation outlawing same-sex marriage. His observation is confirmed by the picture of those invited to the private ceremony to witness Pence proudly signing the bill. Standing behind the governor were three of the most anti-gay lobbyists in Indianapolis, smiling broadly and later bragging how the bill would protect Christians who refused to serve gays. At least these lobbyists were honest about the true purpose of the bill.

Our city’s state representative, Milo Smith, not only voted for but also sponsored the RFRA legislation. State Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, went a step further. He co-authored RFRA despite opposition from two of the largest employers in his district, Cummins and Columbus Regional Hospital, who argued that it would harm their businesses.

There are two purposes of legislation: to create opportunity and to solve a problem. Just which of these purposes did Smith and Walker purport to be doing? Their actions constitute legislative malpractice. Rather than admit their purpose, which was to create a legal defense for bigots to deny goods and services to gays, lesbians and trans-gendered, they claim that everyone else simply does not understand what this legislation actually does. In other words, five former mayors including Richard Lugar, Bill Hudnut, Stephen Goldsmith and current Mayor Greg Ballard, who have all signed a letter to The Star criticizing the law, are all wrong.

It’s time to stand up and admit that this law, a cover for bigots, was ill-conceived and should be repealed.