Late last week, Indiana cooked up a “fix” for it’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act that declared definitively that people could not use the protections of the act to defend themselves when accused of discrimination in public accommodation. The fix closed a loophole created not by the RFRA itself, but because Indiana does not list “sexual orientation” as a protected characteristic in its public accommodation non-discrimination law. Now, if you live in a municipality that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, RFRA can’t be used as a defense to that discrimination, but if you don’t, well, nothing has changed.
In other words, the real problem with Indiana’s law isn’t that it now has a RFRA. But now that RFRA exists, it can’t supercede public accommodations laws, where they exist. They should probably get on the whole “statewide non-discrimination” provision if the forces against RFRA were really concerned about improving the law of course, but unfortunately for Indiana’s oppressed minorities, those forces achieved what they believed to be a victory and have now moved on to more important things, like whether someone who appears to have led Rolling Stone on a wild goose chase should be sheltered from blame.
Anyway, now that everyone has achived nominal equality, our Great Wilco Tour Suspension is also over. It seems that, now that Indiana has fixed its RFRA, all is well and good with the world – aaaaaaand reinstating a show was probably easier than facing a lawsuit from Indiana’s concert promoters and venues who were among those of us who noticed that not only did Wilco’s tour, ironically, take them through other RFRA states, but that it took them through states that had banned same-sex marriage altogether:
Chicago-based rock band Wilco says it’s going ahead with a May concert in Indianapolis now that Indiana lawmakers have tweaked a state law to address concerns that it would allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The band said Friday in a Facebook message that it’s reversed its decision to cancel the May 7 show because lawmakers approved changes Thursday to the religious objections law that added the first references to sexual orientation and gender identity to Indiana law.
Wilco says it considers those changes “a good first step toward creating the sort of welcoming environment we encourage everywhere.”
They’ll donate some of the profits they make on the concert to charity. But not all. They need the money. After all, Wilco hasn’t really had a blockbuster album in almost a decade. And they clearly need all the cash they can get.
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