WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 30, 2015) — On Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law SB 101, legislation that would enable businesses to discriminate under the banner of religious freedom against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Religious claims have in the past been used to justify slavery, segregation, and bans on interracial marriage and are now being used in the same manner to support discrimination against LGBT individuals.
“Governor Pence’s decision to support a law that permits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is disheartening and a step backwards for all Americans,” said George C. Chen, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). “Religious freedom is important, but discrimination masked as religious freedom is not acceptable anywhere in our nation.”
With this new law, Indiana has become the first state in the U.S. this year to enact legislation by allowing corporations and individuals to refuse to provide services to individuals simply by asserting that a discriminatory act is based on a sincerely held religious belief. Supporters of the bill deny that the bill is about discrimination and argue that religious liberties are under attack and must be protected. But this kind of legislation opens the door for widespread discrimination and goes against American values of diversity and inclusion. NAPABA supports efforts to oppose SB 101 and similar bills pending in others states to ensure equality for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 70 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.
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