Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is expected to sign into law a controversial “religious freedom bill” that would protect business owners from having to serve same-sex couples, after the state legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to the proposal.
On Monday the Republican-controlled Indiana state House of Representatives passed the measure in a vote of 63-31, almost totally on party lines according to The Indianapolis Star. On Tuesday, in a vote of 40-10 along party lines the Indiana state Senate approved the House version. Now it goes to Pence’s desk and, according to the Star, it’s extremely likely to become law.
The bill blocks state and local governments in Indiana from “substantially burdening” a person practicing their religion unless the government in question proves that it has both “a compelling interest,” in the words of the Star, and is taking the least restrictive route.
Indiana has been a hotbed on the same-sex marriage issue. In 2013, an unusual alliance of corporate giants headquartered in Indiana and run by a Republican operative formed to fight efforts by state lawmakers to increase
restrictions on gay marriage in the state.
The legislation is modeled after the two-decades old Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which won national attention during the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling in 2014. Nineteen states in the U.S. have already passed religious freedom laws. One of the most high profile fights over religious freedom legislation happened in Arizona which then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), in the end, vetoed.
There have been other fights over similar legislation in other states
that have also won national attention. One of the bakers of a Christian
bakery who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple openly sobbed in retelling her story at a marriage panel at the Values Voter Summit in September in Washington, D.C.