Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act exposes future challenges

Daily Editorial Board

The Indiana government sparked outrage across the United States when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While the bill was designed to safeguard people’s freedom of religious expression, many feared that its ambiguous language made it a facade for businesses to discriminate against certain groups of people, particularly the LGBT community. 
 
Responding to the act’s passage, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton threatened to impose a ban on taxpayer-funded travel to Indiana unless that state’s government amended the RFRA. Seattle and San Francisco had already imposed similar bans. 
 
The pressure mounted such that, by the middle of last week, Indiana’s Republican governor Mike Pence announced that the RFRA’s language needed mending. On Thursday, the Indiana legislature took steps to ensure that the law would not, in Pence’s words, “create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual.” 
 
Responding to the change, Dayton announced on Friday that Minnesota would not impose a travel ban. 
 
We are glad that the Indiana government recognized the importance of amending the RFRA, and we feel proud of the public reaction that made such recognition possible.
 
The protesters’ nationwide solidarity suggests that LGBT civil rights are becoming a more and more inviolable norm. 
 
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that Indiana’s law will be the last to threaten civil rights. Therefore, while we celebrate its amendment, we must remember that social inclusion is always a process, never the result of a single victory.