Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Acts
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Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, also know as Indiana SB 101 and Arkansas SB 975, are two bills passed in March 2015 by the state legislatures of Arkansas and Indiana. The bills are controversial due to the fact that they allow businesses and individuals to assert that their religion is a defense in discrimination lawsuits, exempting them from federal non-discrimination laws.
The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in 1993. This law was partly intended to protect the religious freedom of Native Americans, allowing them the ceremonial use of peyote and the ability to conduct ceremonial gatherings on land they considered sacred. However, in 2014, the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision recognized a corporation's right to religious belief, and shortly thereafter, several states introduced bills that would allow corporations to discriminate based on those beliefs. In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill in 2014, but in March 2015, the governors of Indiana and Arkansas ratified theirs.
Before Governor Mike Pence ratified SB 101 in Indiana, many online groups, including the National LGBTQ Task Force were calling on him to veto it. When that didn't happen, their campaigns reoriented towards protest and boycott. The bill experienced widespread criticism from people as disparate as Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, Inc, and pop-singer Miley Cyrus. Arkansas passed a similar bill on April 2nd, 2015.
Senator Cotton thinks gay community needs to get “perspective” cuz “In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.”— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) April 2, 2015
The passing of Indiana's bill led to a large outcry online, with the creation of many comics, protest based image macros, and other internet-based conversation.
Boycotts of Indiana
Shortly after the bill was signed, businesses and individuals across America began to announce boycotts or cessation of business ties with the state of Indiana. Eight municipalities, including the state of New York and the city of San Francisco, banned non-essential travel to Indiana by state employees. Large non-profit Angie's List halted the expansion of a business campus and many other companies issued statements against state.
March 31st, 2015, the owners of Walkerton, Indiana pizzeria Memories Pizza told local TV station WBND that, based on their Christian beliefs, "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide them pizzas for a wedding, we would have to say no." Many national news publications, including TMZ, picked up the story as being the first instance of an Indiana business refusing to serve customers.
Soon thereafter, Memories Pizza's Yelp page was flooded with over 300 reviews both for and against the decisions of the owners.
The pizzeria received many harassing phone calls, and a hoax was spread on Reddit and Tumblr with images claiming to be screenshots of their hacked web site, which purportedly sold a penis-shaped pizza.
On April 1st, 2015, the pizzeria closed to avoid this harassment, and a GoFundMe campaign was launched to raise money for the owners. As of April 3, 2015, the GoFundMe page has received over $600,000 in donations, much of them anonymous.
Dieseltec Auto Shop
On April 14th, 2015, Brian Klawiter, the owner of Dieseltec Auto Shop in Grandville, MI created a Facebook post proclaiming, among other things, that guns were allowed in the shop and that gays would not be served.
Therefore, in the spirit of freedom (whats left of it) and MY right to operate MY business as I see fit:
Guns ARE allowed at DIESELTEC, so much so in fact that we will offer a discount if you bring in your gun. ("On duty" cops are excluded because thats not their gun, thats my gun bought with my money, off duty absolutely!)
I am a Christian. My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.)
Although Dieseltec is located in Michigan, users online still began to post on the business's Yelp page in a similar fashion to Memories Pizza. Many users posted humorous reviews of the shop that insinuated that the work done on their vehicles was homosexual in nature.
As of April 17th, 2015, most of the postings had been removed by Yelp.
The Sentencing of Purvi Patel
On Monday, March 30th, 2015, Indiana woman Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide, after having claimed to have a stillborn, premature baby and disposing of its body inappropriately. The state of Indiana claimed that Patel had induced an abortion at home with drugs she bought online, though none of the drugs were found in her bloodstream at the time. Her sentencing, seen as harsh, especially after a trial filled with potential flaws, added to the outcry against the morality of the state of Indiana.
Changes to SB-101
On April 2nd, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed an amendment to SB 101 to include anti-discrimination safeguards. The changes included the nullifying of the clause that would allow businesses to refuse services to people based on religious belief, but it did not add protection for the state's LGBT community.
 Wikipedia – Indiana SB 101
 Wikipedia – Religious Freedom Restoration Act
 Twitter – National LGBTQ Task Force
 Mashable – Boycott Indiana List
 Business Insider – Indiana pizza joint that vowed to never deliver pizza to a gay wedding forced to close
 TMZ – Indiana Pizza Place Forced to Close Doors After Refusing to Cater Gay Wedding
 Yelp – Memories Pizza
 Reddit – The first Indiana business to openly announce denial of service to LGBT community
 Tumblr – User: chandra75
 GoFundMe – Memories Pizza
 Democracy Now – 20 Years in Prison for Miscarrying? The Case of Purvi Patel & the Criminalization of Pregnancy
 CNN – Pence signs 'fix' for religious freedom law
 The Daily What – Homophobia of the Day: Dieseltec Auto Repair Shop in Michigan Says It Won’t Serve Gays
 Facebook – Dieseltec's April 14 2015 post
 Yelp – Dieseltec Auto Repair
Apr 03, 2015 at 03:30PM EDT
Apr 03, 2015 at 02:47PM EDT
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