Megyn Kelly continued her misinformation campaign in defense of Indiana's “religious freedom” law, claiming that the measure won't further discrimination against LGBT people because discrimination is already allowed in Indiana, due to a lack of statewide protections against anti-gay discrimination. In fact, the “religious freedom” law threatens to trump municipal non-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation, such as the one in Indianapolis.
On the March 31 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, Kelly hosted yet another misleading segment on Indiana's widely-criticized "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," a law that provides a legal defense for individuals and businesses who cite their religious beliefs against private plaintiffs or the government when refusing to serve LGBT people.
Kelly invited Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC), to defend the law for the second night in a row. During the segment, Kelly argued that RFRA couldn't lead to discrimination because LGBT persons in Indiana are not guaranteed equal treatment under the law:
KELLY: Even though Governor Pence, for some reason, will not get specific about whether this law would specifically, in any case, allow a florist, for example, objecting to a gay wedding to decline to participate in the gay wedding - let's just assume for the purposes of this hypothetical that discrimination against gays was illegal in Indiana - which it's not, by the way -
KELLY: But if it were, do you believe that this law would then protect the religious objector?
KELLY: I want the viewers to understand this, that this law does not allow discrimination against gays.
KELLY: That is already legal in the state of Indiana!
KELLY: Until the state of Indiana - it is, Tony!
PERKINS: But how often does it happen?
KELLY: Until the state recognizes gays and lesbians as a protected class and passes an anti-discrimination law against them, they can be fired for any reason, they can not be served for any reason.
While it's true that Indiana does not have a statewide non-discrimination law, several communities in Indiana, including Indianapolis, have city-wide human rights ordinances that include LGBT persons as a protected class, which could be preempted by a statewide RFRA. As the ACLU of Indiana noted:
The few communities in Indiana with enforceable protections against discrimination for LGBT individuals may now have those protections trumped by a claim under the state RFRA. This is more evidence that the Indiana General Assembly may not yet deem protecting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity to be a compelling governmental interest.
Where have human rights ordinances been passed in Indiana, and how will RFRA impact them?
Only four communities in the state of Indiana have Human Rights Ordinances that provide enforceable protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The state RFRA could be used to undermine these protections in these communities, which include:
- New Albany
- Tippecanoe County
An older and similarly-worded RFRA in Texas explicitly exempts civil rights laws in an attempt to prevent discrimination, but no such exemption exists in Indiana's RFRA.
It's just the latest in Kelly's misleading campaign to defend Indiana's RFRA and downplay its dangers. She previously erroneously compared Indiana's RFRA to other, less-expansive “religious freedom” laws across the country, calling the new measure "not that controversial."