With 20 Of The 50 States Having RFRA Laws, 12 More Planning To Join The List, Why Are We Focusing On Indiana?

Many ask us why re we fighting so hard in Indiana, when the fight in Arizona did not seem as engaged.  Did you know that there are now 20 states with RFRA laws?


Forty percent of U.S. states have something similar to Indiana, as does the federal government.

A federal RFRA signed by President Clinton in 1993 shares language with Indiana and other states' bills, prohibiting the government from "substantially burdening" individuals' exercise of religion unless it is for a "compelling government interest" and is doing so in the least restrictive means.

The fact that legislation like this is so widespread probably gave Pence some confidence in signing the bill, despite the controversy in Arizona last year over its bill that was ultimately scrapped, and in other states, like Georgia, which are considering similar measures this year. – WashingtonPost.com

Why are states doing this now?  Why do they feel they need to create RFRA laws?  Is it because of the progression of same-sex marriage rights across the nation?  Or do they believe they are filling a void left by the federal government?

In 1997, in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) did not apply to the states.

Since 1997, 19 20 states have enacted state RFRAs. These laws are intended to echo the federal RFRA, but are not necessarily identical to the federal law. – www.ncsl.org

Here is a list of the States and their laws. Are these untouchable laws?  How come we have not fought against these laws on a national scale, but national corporations are taking the fight to Indiana?  Should we ask Salesforce to boycott these states as well?



If nothing is done about the proposal of these laws, the map above will have increased to 32 states having RFRA Laws.  32 out of 50 states. 64% of the country.  So to the answer, why are we fighting so hard in Indiana?  If we don't fight there, there will be an avalanche soon and a majority of the nation will be legally allowed to discriminate.  Imagine if Salesforce keeps up the same policy it has against Indiana, by the end of this year, it would be limiting itself to 18 states.


States colored in red already have new RFRA laws being proposed this year.  Add that to the dark green states already having laws, it doesn't look that good.  But are all the proposed and existing RFRA laws the same?  Below is a list of legislation with final disposition listed alongside the bill when applicable.  Enacted legislation is in bold. – www.ncsl.org




8 thoughts on “With 20 Of The 50 States Having RFRA Laws, 12 More Planning To Join The List, Why Are We Focusing On Indiana?”

  1. Yes, other states do have

    Yes, other states do have similar laws with some similar language. But the Indiana RFRA contains broader implications than the other state laws. The Indiana explicitly law recognizes that a for-profit corporation has free exercise rights matching those id individual people or churches. It also explicitly states a business' free exercise right defense against another person, not just the government. No other state laws allow for both of these at the same time. I believe Texas allows for the first implication and one other state allows for the second. Most of the other states laws do not allow (and in many cases explicitly forbid these implications).

    So while I get that there are some general similarities between the Indiana RFRA and those in other states, it is important to note that there are some key differences.

    It is also important to note the social context in which the Indiana RFRA was passed. It was passed on the heels of several same-sex marriage victories and other wins for LGBT rights. Basically as soon as LGBT rights really gained a lot of traction and momentum.

    From what I understand, most of the other state RFRA (or similarly titled) laws as well as the federal RFRA were passed in the 90s. This of course does not in any way excuse the implications that those laws have. However at that point gay marriage had less than 20% approval. While still wrong, the passage of such laws in the 90s was at least fairly consistent with the thinking at the time and though I vehemently disagree with them, I can at least understand how they passed.

    This Indiana law is very clearly a last-ditch effort for people with backwards opinions to discriminate and otherwise mistreat LGBT people as they grow angry and afraid that LGBT rights and just LGBT people in general are becoming more and more accepted nationally.

  2. Religious freedom is already
    Religious freedom is already in the Constitution of the United States. .making this a clear signal to all that bigotry and hate is alive and well in the good ol’ US of A..

    • If my religion’s doctrine

      If my religion's doctrine does not include same-sex relationships, do you think that I have the right to refuse to participate in anything that has to do with a same-sex relationship

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  4. Places like South East

    Places like South East Florida (from Key West to Palm Beach) have laws that include sexual orientation as illegal to discriminate. Some other counties also but mostly North Florida (also known as Southern Alabama) don't.

    We should focus on Indiana to boycott as an example to the other states that have or plan to initiate similar discriminatory laws. This should NOT be tolerated.

  5. Note that states without

    Note that states without discrimination are those with the best economic opportunities, and out of work people will flock to them to get jobs. Their economies will grow and the other states will fade into obscurity.

    • Uh, not trying to be mean but

      Uh, not trying to be mean but your comment is false… You need to read up on the states with the best economies and cost of living by state etc… The ones shaded without discrimination are not all the best states with good jobs or opportunities… 


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