‘Religious Freedom’ Measures Revamped

   < < Go Back
from The Wall Street Journal,

Indiana, Arkansas redo legislation after outcry by major corporations and gay-rights groups.

Indiana and Arkansas looked to end an uproar over religious-protection laws as both took steps Thursday to address concerns that the measures gave people the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Lawmakers in Indiana passed a bill that makes changes to a week-old “religious freedom” law that has faced intense criticism inside and outside the state. Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill Thursday evening.

The changes could ease tumult in both states over laws that supporters and opponents have viewed very differently. Backers argue the laws provided additional protection for religious beliefs, while opponents claimed they would lead to protection for businesses that chose not to serve customers, hire workers or rent apartments based on sexual orientation.

While those arguments raged, a majority of lawmakers in both states found the growing pressure from businesses too much and backed the changes. They feared the firestorm already had damaged their state economies, from depressing tourism to making it harder for employers to attract top talent.

For conservative Christian groups, the new legislation was disappointing after they spent months fighting for the passage of the original version.

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):