House Committee Debates RFRA Amid Protests

Mar 16, 2015

Both supporters (pictured) and opponents packed the Indiana Statehouse Monday to express their opinion on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Opponents of the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act say it’s not about religious freedom, but about legalizing discrimination.  A House committee debated the issue in a hearing Monday.

Proponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, say they’re worried about the government encroaching on their practice of religion.  But opponents say RFRA goes much further than simply protecting religious practices; they say it will allow private citizens to discriminate because of their religious beliefs. 

Amy Sandler and her wife Niki Quasney were part of a lawsuit last year that successfully struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.  Quasney recently passed away from ovarian cancer. 

Sandler says, in her wife’s final days, she didn’t have time to research the religious beliefs of care providers.

“Niki was running out of time and she needed care as quickly as possible,” Sandler said. “What if, in our most vulnerable time of need, they had been allowed and protected to turn us away?”

Supporters of the bill say the RFRA concept exists in 30 other states and has not been used as a license to discriminate. 

The House committee approved the bill nine to four, along party lines.