Fox News' Andrea Tantaros defended Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), asserting that businesses owners “would go out of their way not to discriminate.” But a business owner in Indiana has already pledged to use the law to deny services to LGBT customers.
Indiana's “religious freedom” law -- which provides a legal defense for businesses that refuse to serve LGBT customers for religious reasons -- ignited a firestorm of criticism this week, with legal scholars and LGBT advocates raising concerns about the law's broad language.
On the April 1 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Tantaros downplayed concerns about the law, claiming, “these big businesses are going to go out of their way, of course, not to discriminate,” adding that she doesn't “see Christian businesses refusing to serve eggs to anyone.”
But at least one Indiana businessowner has already pledged to refuse to serve LGBT people. Crystal O'Connor, an owner of Memories Pizza shop in Walkerton, told ABC 57 that she supported RFRA and would refuse service to a gay couple because “we are a Christian establishment.” “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” she stated.
During an interview with a local radio station, another Indiana business owner openly admitted to having refused service to gay customers.
RFRA has been used as a defense to discriminate against the LGBT community in the past. In New Mexico, a photographer denied a gay couple service based on their sexual orientation, in violation of the state's Human Right Act. When the couple sued the photographer for discrimination, the business owner used the state's RFRA as a defense. New Mexico's Supreme Court rejected the defense because the government was not a party to the case -- something that Indiana's RFRA was specifically drafted to circumvent.
As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern documented, giving businesses the right to refuse service to gay customers "was the point" of Indiana's RFRA. It's no surprise that at least one Indiana business owner has already pledged to do just that.