Debate over religious freedom: Differences between Indiana’s new law, what’s happening in Wisconsin

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Indiana finds itself under the spotlight this week -- and not just because it's hosting the top teams in college basketball.

Critics say Indiana's new religious freedom restoration law could be used to discriminate. One popular theoretical example -- a florist opposed to gay marriage refusing to sell flowers to a homosexual couple for their wedding.

On Tuesday, Indiana's governor held a news conference to defend his state's reputation.

"This law does not give anyone a license to discriminate. The religious freedom restoration act in Indiana does not give anyone the right to deny services to anyone in this state," said Gov. Mike Pence.

Gov. Pence says similar laws are already on the book elsewhere. But he's also asking state lawmakers to hand him legislation clarifying that the new law does not allow discrimination.

"Indiana has passed a law here that mirrors the federal law that President Clinton signed and it mirrors the laws and statutes of some thirty states," said Pence.

It's true that Congress and President Bill Clinton signed off on a religious freedom restoration law more than 20 years ago. But former Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske says there are significant differences between that law and the one in Indiana.

"The federal law says that the government cannot impede those religious beliefs unless they can show first of all there's a substantial need to do it. And secondly, it's the least restrictive means they can accomplish their goal," said Geske.

But Geska says in Indiana, a government party doesn't have to be involved at all.

"It can be a simple tort between a couple of parties," said Geske. "The...litigant is going to wind up having to show things for example that normally the government would show in a case. So it's going to be expensive; it's going to be challenging."

Wisconsin does not have a similar religious free restoration law on the books, but there have been court cases concerning religious freedom and the state. Justice Geske reviewed one such case while serving on the state's Supreme Court.


  • Hell in a handbasket

    Janine Geske is a flaming liberal and of course Fox 6 does not have a counter point (that would be journalism and Fox 6 are liberal cheerleaders), They’ll probably get has been Mordecai Lee’s opinion next.

    • JokeEnthusiast

      She’s a former supreme court justice. Which makes her very qualified to give opinions about legal issues to journalists. Are you so blinded by your partisanship that you can’t respect the fact that this person is an expert? Conservative or liberal, a former supreme court justice’s opinion should be considered.

      Don’t get all butthurt about it.

      • Hell in a handbasket

        Either you cannot read or comprehend what you read. Where did I question her qualification to voice her opinion? My point that you did not address is it is typical for the media, to include Fox 6, to provide an opinion from one side but not the other. That is why the media is losing trust and credibility every day. Keep telling jokes.


    I don’t care what the LGBT think. They are the intolerant ones. Pushing their agenda down our throats.

      • Agent Smith

        They already have equal rights. That’s not what they’re lobbying for. What they are lobbying for is SPECIAL treatment, that the rest of us don’t have. They want special protection. They want to legislate the mind. “You MUST ACCEPT US!”


    The political left liberals have or will destroy this country and will continue until all religion is suppressed and denounced.

  • opinion8d

    it all starts in the public schools….and after so many years of indoctrination, the tide is turning to the left. They feed the BS to kids about everything – in essence bullying the kids, but it’s not bullying if you speak the ‘truth’. So after 30 years of it, ask a kid about Religion and school…and you’ll get ‘separation of Church and State means you can’t mention Christianty in school’ or even have a Christmas concert/break or sing a ‘religious’ song or have ‘Easter’ break. Even though the Country was founded on Christian principles and the majority of kids are Christian. It’s always about bowing to the ultra-minorities, because we don’t want to ‘hurt their feelings’……pathetic!!!

  • Hell in a handbasket

    Here’s a predicament. What if the business in question is exercising their Islam faith and denying service to gays or women. What would a liberal do then? The libs bully Christians and fear Islam.

  • ELS

    Does that mean that I can sue a Kosher Subway for not giving me a pork sandwich? LOL! Everyone gets discriminated against sometimes, get over yourselves.

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