Differences between Indiana RFRA and South Carolina Law - DatelineCarolina

Critics claim Indiana's new Religious Freedom law permits anti-gay discrimination. How does South Carolina's law stack up?

USC Director of Women's and Gender Studies Ed Madden hopes this law wont lead to more discrimination USC Director of Women's and Gender Studies Ed Madden hopes this law wont lead to more discrimination
Protestors gather in Indiana to fight against RFRA Protestors gather in Indiana to fight against RFRA

 By: Ryan Fullam

Many people around the nation have been angered by Indiana's new religious freedom law.

The Religious Freedom Reformation Act, or RFRA, and lawmakers claim the law will keep business owners from sued for practicing their religious beliefs.  

"The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was about religious liberty. Not about discrimination," Indiana Governor Mike Pence said.

However, opponents say the law will allow businesses to discriminate against same sex couples by denying services because that is what the business owner's religion says.

Twenty states have passed their own RFRA laws since 1997, including South Carolina, after the United States Supreme Court ruled that a federal RFRA law from 1993 didn't apply to individual states.

The South Carolina law was passed in 1999. It differs from the Indiana law according to a professor from the South Carolina School of Law.  

Indiana law says a private business owners couldn't be prosecuted because of their religious beliefts.  There is no exception saying the owner can not discriminate against any one on the base of race, religion or sexual preference.  In South Carolina, if a business were to discriminate against someone in a same sex marriage they could be prosecuted under the states anti-discrimination law even if the owner cited a religious objection. 

Director of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina, Ed Madden, is involved in a same sex marriage and says he has never been discriminated before.

"No I've never been denied service but the way these law work now that is clearly the intent," Madden said.

He does believe though, that the Indiana law could open doors for conservative lawmakers in South Carolina to push for more religious freedom in business.

After much public criticism over the past couple of days, over what Governor Pence calls as a "mischaracterization" of the law, he is looking to state legislators to amend the law. 

"I am calling on the General Assembly to send me a bill that focuses on the issue here—that focuses on the smear that's been leveled against the law and against the people of Indiana... And that is that, somehow through our legislative process, we enacted legislation that created a license to discriminate," Governor Pence said.

Pence still says he does not regret signing the bill even after this public  backlash, but he says he is willing to take the steps to correct any misinterpretations of the legislation.

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