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Republican Governor Mike Pence speaking to some conservatives who hate gay people (image via Wikimedia)

In our recurring hit series “Wait. What?” we recount conversations we have about news stories that start out with one person explaining the story and the other party replying, “Wait. What?” In this installment, we dive into Indiana’s controversial new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” which gives business owners the legal right to deny gay people service.


- Hey, did you hear that Indiana just made it legal for businesses to discriminate against gay people?
- Wait. What?
- Yeah, it is now legal in Indiana for a business to deny a same-sex couple services.
- Wait. How?
- Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law called the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” The idea is that your hateful religion should have the “freedom” to practice its hateful beliefs against people it hates, in this case people who happen to be gay.
- Wait. Why?
- Well, last year gay marriage became legal in Indiana, so I guess when same-sex couples started planning their legal weddings, some hateful florists and some hateful bakers didn’t want to have to make floral arrangements or cakes for their legal celebrations of love.
- Wait. But…?
- I know. It’s like, so if some member of the KKK was a florist and didn’t want to make a floral arrangement for a black couple getting married, would they legally be allowed to do that now under this hateful legislation?
- Wait. Ugh.
- You’re right, it’s unlikely that a member of the KKK would be a florist. Although maybe that’s prejudiced of me to say?
- Wait. Hold on.
- True, we’re getting off topic. Anyway, the law is modeled after an older federal law that played a pivotal role in the Supreme Court decision last year to allow corporations like Hobby Lobby to not provide contraceptives to women on the grounds that it violates the corporation’s religious beliefs.
- Wait. The fuck?
- I agree. Where is separation of church and state? A business is not a person and it shouldn’t be able to discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs. It’s a business — it should have to follow the law, and that law should provide equal protection to all opportunities, goods, and services that everyone else gets. Honestly, I think it is all related to this “Citizens United” mentality of saying that a corporation has freedom of speech.
- Wait. Who…?
- Nobody thinks this is a good thing. The NCAA has officially stated it is “concerned” over the implications of the law, especially with the Final Four set to take place in Indianapolis. The largest gaming convention in the world, Gen Con, said it will be leaving the state and being held elsewhere next year to protest the bill. The CEO of Salesforce just announced it was cutting off all business with Indiana effective immediately as to not subject its employees or customers to discrimination. Other companies are looking to follow suit. I mean, seriously, this is the—
- WAIT! Wait a second. Just wait.
- OK.
- I’m trying to … My brain can’t handle it. That law makes no sense. In what world does it make sense for a U.S. state to pass legislation making discrimination legal? Is this 1890 and are we passing Jim Crow laws for the LGBT community?
- I know, dude. It makes no sense. Here, just do this whippet. You’ll feel better for 15 seconds or so.

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