Appeal set on challenge to Indiana religious objections law

Conservative religious groups are planning to appeal an Indiana judge’s ruling that canceled a trial challenging limits on the state’s religious objections law that were signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence.

Terre Haute attorney James Bopp filed the notice Dec. 20 but hasn’t yet submitted any arguments regarding the appeal. That action comes after a Hamilton County judge ruled in November that the groups failed to prove they had faced any harm, agreeing with arguments the state and four cities made that the organizations lacked standing to sue.

The lawsuit argues the groups’ constitutional rights were violated by changes the Republican-dominated Legislature made to the 2015 law – known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA – after a national uproar over whether it could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Those revisions blocked its use as a legal defense for refusing to provide services and prevented the law from being used to override local ordinances with LGBT protections.

The judge’s November ruling didn’t address the lawsuit’s merits claims, including that the changes threaten to hinder the organizations’ ability to speak out against same-sex marriages and expose them to claims of discrimination in hiring.

Bopp, who represents the Indiana Family Institute, Indiana Family Action and the American Family Association of Indiana, argued during an October hearing that they were subject to “grotesque stripping” of their religious rights by the Legislature. Bopp didn’t immediately reply to messages seeking comment about the planned appeal.

The lawsuit also challenges local civil rights ordinances that include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Indianapolis, Carmel, Bloomington and Columbus, which is Pence’s hometown.

The religious organizations previously secured a victory in the litigation when a judge in November 2016 declined to dismiss the case on standing grounds. But in renewing the standing issue in October 2019, defense attorneys said the case is now in a different procedural posture that made summary judgment for the defendant-cities appropriate.

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7 thoughts on “Appeal set on challenge to Indiana religious objections law

  1. These “Christian” bigots simply want the right to openly discriminate again LGBT people. Notice how their groups always have the word “family” in their titles. Ironic. And sickening. And when challenged, the answer is always “Oh we’re not discriminating.” “Grotesque stripping of their religious rights.” Give me a break. DISGUSTING.

    1. Find me a single instance in any of the 30 states that have RFRAs (either by legislation or judicial ruing) in which RFRA was used to discriminate against LGBT people. You won’t find a single one because there aren’t any. RFRAs do not override civil rights laws. If discrimination is allowed against LGBT individuals, blame the lack of a civil rights law to provide those protections. Don’t blame laws, such as RFRA, that are designed to prevent religious discrimination. It’s a shame that news outlets didn’t bother to be accurate about what RFRA actually does. Even an ACLU attorney at a legal seminar I was at agreed that RFRA did not open the door to LGBT discrimination…that the only thing that mattered was whether a jurisdiction has a civil rights law providing for LGBT protection. Indiana does not protect LGBT individuals in its civil rights law. Some municipalities, however, do. Complain about that instead of RFRA which matters not one bit as far as LGBT rights.

  2. What constitutes a “family?” In my opinion, for what little it’s worth, while it could be just one person with a dog, it’s usually two loving adults and, possibly some children, or dogs (sorry, cat lovers, but I’m a dog person: no offense intended). I don’t see how one person’s idea of family destroys or attacks another, simply because the composition might be different? To me, the use of the word family by each of these institutions either denigrates or totally ignores the true meaning of family… Aren’t we all member of a family?

    1. Bob, maybe you are feeling a PITA because you know deep in your heart these fake religious busy-bodies should mind their own damn business. And, no one is attacking Christians because true Christians would never behave the way these people do.

      This sad sack effort has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with a bunch of control freaks who want to dominate other people’s lives and who get some weird thrill out of acting holier-than-thou to boost their own fragile egos. There is nothing more disgraceful or dangerous than individuals who weaponize religion to feed their lust for power. Live your own life according to your own conscience and do not worry about other people’s private lives. I look forward to seeing these folks get smacked down again with this silly appeal. Then, perhaps they will instead focus on doing worthwhile things that truly reflect the religious values they claim to hold, such has helping the poor, tending to the elderly or sick, or simply being decent human beings to others.

  3. Oh Bob P. I was waiting for you! Go crawl back under your rock. Christians are absolutely the least persecuted and most entitled (and whiney) religious group world-wide.

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