Tag Archives: Mike Pence

The Real Problem With Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Law” Is The Lack of Actual Freedom

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been crushed by a media and public onslaught over the state’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”, which critics say simply legalizes discrimination against Indiana’s LBGT community. The first-term Republican governor is now asking for a “legislative fix” for the bill in order to clarify that it does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

“It would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone,” Pence said in a press conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Pence’s comments come amid intense criticism from major corporations like Apple, Walmart and tech giant Salesforce against Indiana’s law and similar measures advancing in at least a dozen other states this year. In addition, companies like Angie’s List have already announced pulling expansion in the state. The NCAA, which is set to host its men’s basketball Final Four in Indianapolis, has said it could move events elsewhere in the future.

Gov. Pence says that the bill does not allow businesses to “refuse service to anyone” and if that is truly the case, then what is the point of this bill? The idea is that under this bill business owners have a right to not violate their conscience by being forced to provide services in same-sex weddings. That is not an unreasonable law. The idea that government must prevent private business owners from discrimination is a misnomer. For instance, if a wedding photographer refuses to take pictures at same-sex weddings, the market will resolve that issue without need for government intervention as another photographer will come along who specializes in same-sex weddings. It is not a matter of IF- it WILL happen.

The real problem in Indiana is that the law isn’t about freedom, because the state is just a year away from an emotional battle over a Republican-driven proposal to amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. In that case, the state is clearly refusing freedom.

If a business owner has the right of conscience to refuse service, why do couples not have the right of conscience to marry whomever they choose? Indiana’s mistake is that lawmakers attempted to create a “freedom” law that only highlights a small amount of freedom for a narrow swath of the population and that is not freedom at all.

Instead of a Religious Freedom Bill, lawmakers could have created a Freedom of Conscience Bill. Under this bill, they could have opened the state up to allow for same-sex marriage while preserving the rights of churches, ministers and private businesses to refuse to participate. This would mean embracing freedom not for what we hope it will be but for what it is.

The problem with the liberty movement is that we embrace freedom, even if someone’s use of that freedom makes us uncomfortable. This is the center of the issue with this law. Unfortunately, Indiana lawmakers had an opportunity here to embrace freedom, even freedom that made them uncomfortable. While it makes some people uncomfortable that people of the same sex might marry, freedom allows them to make their own choice. Similarly, some people are uncomfortable that a private business owner might not want to assist in those services but freedom gives them the ability to do so.

In a free society, these people can coexist without legislation dictating their every behavior but sadly, as a society, we have become convinced that they cannot.

Propaganda? Republican Indiana Governor Mike Pence to Launch Government-Run News Site

At the end of February, Republican Indiana Governor Mike Pence plans to debut a news website called “Just IN” which will compete head-to-head with independent news outlets. According to The Indianapolis Star, the site will feature articles written by employees of the Pence administration. Pence’s office has tapped former Indianapolis Star writer Bill McCleery to oversee the project. The site will reportedly contain a mix of news articles, personality profiles, and feel-good stories.

The price tag on the taxpayer-funded news project is as-yet unknown, but The Indianapolis Star uncovered state records indicating that Just IN already has two full-time employees who are being paid a combined total of $100,000. The news service will be steered by a board of directors and editorial board appointed by Governor Pence. Bill McCleery will also serve on Just IN‘s editorial board.

Pence’s administration has sent mixed signals about the purpose of the site. On the one hand, administration officials have portrayed the news outlet as a high-style, glorified press release distribution service to assist the media in obtaining breaking news from the governor’s office. On the other hand, state documents describing the site said, “We expect reporters to find the site useful, and some features are designed specifically for media professionals. Just IN, however, will function as a news outlet in its own right for thousands of Hoosiers.”

Critics claim that Just IN will feature articles with a pro-administration slant and will compete directly with independent news sites using taxpayer funds. Hoosier State Press Association executive director Steve Key told The Indianapolis Star, “It’s not uncommon throughout history for governments to do what they can to control the message. Is that done in a benign way because they’re trying to get more info out to the public, or is it done with hidden motivations in making sure their message is seen in the best light possible?”

A tweet written by Indianapolis Star investigative journalist John Russell and cited by The Huffington Post said, “Every professional journalist in Indiana should join me in denouncing Gov. Pence’s state-run ‘news service.'” Journal Gazette reporter Niki Kelly tweeted about Just IN and asked, “So what happens if I ask a state agency for specific information? Do they write my story before I do?”

Portland Commercial Review publisher Jack Ronald, who, during the late ’90s, traveled to former Soviet states to assist journalists in creating independent media outlets in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, said, “I have no problem with public information services — the Purdue University agriculture extension service does a great job. But the notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press.”

MSNBC writer Steve Benen wrote, “What’s unfolding in Indiana sounds an awful lot like taxpayer-funded propaganda from the Pence administration.”

Governor Mike Pence is rumored to be considering a 2016 run for the Republican nomination for president. CNN notes that Pence said in 2005, “As a conservative who believes in limited government, I believe the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press.”