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Darren Byrd
for Brown County Council District 2



Equal treatment that should actually be equal

All of us are afforded equal treatment under the law. What could be more unequal than creating or designating special classes of groups for more favorable treatment. We've heard the argument that groups are not seeking special treatment, but wish to be treated fairly and equally. It can not be possible to equalize laws by declaring specially protected classes to be placed under the umbrella of elevated protections within a special classification. "All [people] are equal; but some [people] are more equal than others."

The Federal Government is so busy whipping us into a frenzy over financial classes and race classes and trying to "level the playing field" that they have almost completely neutered us by pitting us against each other. Many of us no longer strive to succeed, we no longer hunger for the American Dream; we look to the Government for resolve and sustenance. Far too many of us are being bought off through the Welfare State. Why would we try... why would we risk our time... why would we give up any effort to provide for ourselves when there is a Government program to "fix" our need to try? Of course, this is all based on our placement in or exclusion from a specially protected classification of people.

RFRA

In the recent hysteria over RFRA, it's apparent that the vast majority of those dissenters across the state and even those across country have NOT read the text of it. It's impossible to argue the facts without having the facts. So here it is...

The RFRA Text

"A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding."

It must present a substantial burden.

Sect 8-11 is the actual meat of the text.

This bill does not advocate for or encourage discrimination; it clarifies how the Federal RFRA (introduced by Chuck Schumer D-NY, and signed by Bill Clinton in '93) should be applied to state cases. In previous cases brought to states, it has been deemed that the wording of the Federal RFRA does not apply to state cases unless the States individually adopt it. This is a clarification of how the State adopts RFRA and how the courts should apply the law to cases brought before it. Indiana is not the first state to do this, there are about 30 others. The bill that was signed into law is not unique. This law very closely (almost identically) mirrors the Federal law. One problem with this legislation is that the scope is too narrow and specific; NObody should be forced by any other group to perform services or acts to which they have a true, reasonable objection.

Should a faithful Christian flower shop owner, catering service owner, or cake decorator be FORCED to be intimately involved in a celebratory ceremony that goes against every one of their deeply held core values?

Should a black family, running their own restaurant to make a living, be FORCED to cater a KKK or other white supremacist convention?

Should a gay florist be FORCED to provide and set up flower arrangements for a wedding ceremony at the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas?

Should a holistic practitioner be FORCED to sell corporate pharmaceuticals?

Should it be MANDATED that a local farmers' market sell Monsanto's bio-engineered products, so that they can be 'equally represented'?

Should a dog breeder have the discretion to not sell a dog to Michael Vick?

I'm not grouping these examples as the same or equal, but they are equally relevant to our Constitutionally guaranteed (and often overlooked) right to freedom of association. Where does Mandated Association end? Should anyone have the freedom to say "no" to being involved in a project with which they have a true personal, moral, or spiritual objection? If one business says "no" to something, there will be scores elsewhere who will say "yes." The free market will then decide the viability of such a business.

The argument that this law will permit widespread discrimination and allow anybody the ability to refuse to serve anybody is ridiculous. It it still illegal to arbitrarily refuse goods or services, except where the provider must become an active participant in something that violates their values or morals. Anybody who does this can/will be sued. This simply clarifies how the courts should apply the Federal law. I happen to believe that the government should not be in the business of writing these kinds of laws; it's an individual moral concern, not a government one. The primary reason that we don't need this kind of law is that the Constitution already plainly guarantees our right to free association. Forced servitude, as dictated by ANY government institution, is absolutely not free association.

When somebody approaches a business for services, they are hoping for a certain level of service for a certain value. If that business refuses service and the customer sues for compliance, do they honestly believe that they will get the best service possible from a court mandated judgement? If I had a service contract from somebody as a result of a court mandate, I definitely wouldn't trust that I will get the best service possible. Surely they can't expect or want that service, either. This string of logic would lead to the conclusion that their court actions are strictly vindictive and punitive. I truly can't understand why somebody wouldn't just seek somebody more sympathetic to their situation and their needs; those others do exist in abundance. Forcing one's tolerance on others, is also a horrific form of intolerance and bigotry, since it completely disregards the individuality of one's fellow human.

An individual does not forfeit any of their individual rights because they simply open a business. A business license does not make that person a ward of the State. Freedom of Association is still applicable. I believe (without hypocrisy) that the individual should be free to live their life in their own pursuit of happiness; gay, straight, or none of the above. I don't believe we can nor should ever try to legislate morality and regulate opinions; history is littered with failed attempts at that and the millions of casualties that resulted for them. This is why I cringe at new laws being created to cover the inadequacies and complications created by other laws and regulations that were, by nature, complicating and inadequate.

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