Fox's Megyn Kelly misleadingly compared Indiana's controversial anti-gay “religious freedom” law to laws in other states and claimed that the measure wouldn't allow for anti-LGBT discrimination.
On the March 30 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly invited Tony Perkins - president of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) - and Truman National Security Project partner Mark Hannah to discuss Indiana's recently adopted "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA). The law, which has triggered a national backlash, provides a legal defense for individuals and business owners who cite their religious beliefs while discriminating against LGBT people.
During the interview, Kelly suggested that Indiana's RFRA was similar to federal law and RFRAs in other states and denied that the measure could be used to justify anti-LGBT discrimination:
Kelly and Perkins' defense of Indiana's RFRA is wrong on two counts.
First, Indiana's RFRA is categorically different than federal RFRA and “religious freedom” laws in other states. Its definition of a "person" who can cite the law in a dispute is much broader than other laws, and the law allows individuals to claim a religious exemption in court “regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” The ACLU of Indiana explains that those differences are "virtually without precedent" and make Indiana's RFRA much more expansive than other states' measures. Even Fox's own Bret Baier dismissed the idea that Indiana's RFRA is, as Kelly claimed, “not really that unusual.”
Second, Kelly ignores that the primary argument in favor of Indiana's RFRA was that the law will protect business owners who refuse to serve same-sex couples - a plain example of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. If RFRA can be used to protect anti-gay wedding vendors, it might also be invoked to protect a host of other discriminatory acts, like a doctor refusing to treat the child of a same-sex couple.
When Arizona considered similar legislation protecting anti-gay wedding vendors in 2014, Kelly called the measure "potentially dangerous."
Legal scholars, religious leaders, businesses, and even the Republican mayor of Indianapolis have all warned that the broad wording of Indiana's RFRA risks encouraging further anti-LGBT discrimination. As the ACLU explained, “RFRA may embolden individuals and business who now feel that their religious liberty is 'burdened' by treating a member of the LGBT community equally.”
Kelly's misleading defense of Indiana's controversial “religious freedom” law is just the latest example of why she's become homophobia's best ally at Fox.