Inslee supported law with a few similarities to Indiana’s religious act

Apr 3, 2015, 3:22 PM | Updated: 10:04 pm
Inslee described Indiana’s law as going “backwards.” (AP)...
Inslee described Indiana's law as going "backwards." (AP)
(AP)

Governor Jay Inslee supported a law when he was in Congress with similar language to that of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Related: Washington governor rescinds Indiana travel ban

The 1993 Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was unanimously endorsed.

Within that act, similar language to Indiana’s recently revised law states “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religious even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” … except when it “is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

But there are fundamental differences between the two laws, Inslee told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson on Friday.

“The Indiana law had no protection based on gender identity,” Inslee said. The Indiana law allowed corporations to “act like they have a soul and religious beliefs.”

And, unlike the federal law, the Indiana law allowed for private discrimination, Inslee added.

When asked by Dori if Inslee would have voted for a similar law to Indiana’s, Inslee replied that a federal law would not have allowed for what Indiana would do.

“The Indiana law allowed for private discrimination,” Inslee said. “The federal law did not address private discrimination.”

Indiana’s original law raised concerns that it could allow business owners to deny services to gays and lesbians for religious reasons. The original law prohibited state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” included religious institutions, businesses and associations.

The revised Indiana law bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or U.S. military service.

Inslee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray banned travel to Indiana for work purposes. Inslee rescinded the ban on state-funded travel after the law was amended.

Inslee described Indiana’s law as going “backwards.”

But if the governor was willing to ban travel to another state based on a law that may have discriminated against gays and lesbians, why not ban travel to other countries that do worse, Dori asked. United Arab Emirates, for example, is a trade partner; where it is illegal to be gay.

The United States should be solving discrimination within itself before going international, Inslee responded.

When Inslee asked if Dori wants government to stop trading with countries that prohibit being gay, Dori said he doesn’t. However, he believes the travel ban to Indiana was hypocritical because there were no financial consequences.

“I agree nobody should get the Nobel Prize for what we did,” Inslee said. “But what we did do here was the right thing and that was to speak out in a way that was demonstrable.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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Inslee supported law with a few similarities to Indiana’s religious act