Governor Mike Pence “looked awful doing (RFRA),” but as the editorial board of Lafayette’s newspaper reminds us, “But for all the justifiable grief piled on Pence in those two weeks, legislators deserve at least as much.”
Yesterday our own Ron Grooms, who remained conspicuously silent as the GOP’s RFRA-laden ka-ka first started hitting the fan — and who has been doubling down on the disingenuousness ever since — remained in a state of abject denial.
According to Grooms, who elevates abject cluelessness to a sort of epochal art form, “Hoosier Hospitality” remains alive and well in spite of his party’s determination to smother it by means of New Age Nuremberg Laws.
Hoosier hospitality was on display for the whole country to see this weekend as Indianapolis hosted another successful Final Four. After the fierce debate over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it was good to see our state’s true character get some national media exposure.
Those on both sides of the RFRA debate were wrongly led to believe that it was going to change the state’s discrimination laws. While the criticism of the law was unwarranted, the economic harm that would’ve come to Indiana without a clarification of the RFRA was real. Hoosier employers were on the verge of losing clients and customers; our cities were poised to lose convention business; and the state’s AAA credit rating was in jeopardy, which would have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Now that the General Assembly has acted to clarify the law, I hope people will begin to see that the RFRA is a victory for Hoosiers of all faiths. It doesn’t harm anyone. With passage of the RFRA, Indiana now joins some 30 other states in providing the highest level of legal protection for religious liberty.
The RFRA in its final form is a law that reflects Hoosier values. It recognizes our Constitutional right to free exercise of religion and follows the history of other states’ RFRA’s by specifying that the law doesn’t change discrimination laws one way or another.
Don’t you see? That fecal matter Republicans smeared in our faces was perfume-scented lace, and the fact that we couldn’t tell the difference was those bad outsiders misleading us — I mean, it was their fault, and the experience was a positive, and now we all feel SOOO much better trooping off to the showers, don’t we?
After RFRA’s supermajority debacle (Lafayette Journal & Courier)
It’s hard to imagine Gov. Mike Pence handling the past two weeks any worse than he did.
He discounted the readily available signs that Senate Bill 101 — Indiana’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — came factory-installed with hints and allegations of discrimination against gay and lesbian Hoosiers. When those hints and allegations started turning into nixed development deals and nationwide boycotts — real deals about money, jobs and convention traffic — Pence blamed the media for smearing a law they misunderstood. He continued to listen to inside cronies with easily traceable ties to anti-gay agendas before giving in to adjustments on the law to save face — not to mention the state’s dwindling reputation.
And he looked awful doing it, wire to wire, from a hide-it-under-a-bushel, private signing of SB 101 on March 25 to Friday’s less ceremonious, but still closed-door signing of supplemental legislation intended to clarify that the law was not aimed at allowing businesses to refuse service of gays and lesbians.
Sneaking out a back door of the Statehouse and quietly leaving for Europe moments after House and Senate leaders brought him a fix to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — even as schools started arriving for the NCAA Tournament Final Four and a mega-weekend in downtown Indianapolis — didn’t help the perception problem much.
Then again, given the heat laid on by the NCAA, threatening it was open to pulling its headquarters from Indianapolis if the Statehouse couldn’t figure how to erase the perception of discrimination hanging off the new law, maybe it was best that Pence disappeared for the sake of clearing the slate before the nation converged for one of Indianapolis’ biggest weekends.
All in all, a terrible week for the governor. And an insufferable week for Indiana.
But for all the justifiable grief piled on Pence in those two weeks, legislators deserve at least as much.