New Mexico Pre-Files Indiana-Style RFRA Bill

An Indiana-style RFRA bill has been pre-filed in the New Mexico legislature, the contents of which will both expand the state's concept of "person" to include businesses and the definition of religious freedom to include refusals of service motivated by religious belief. The bill also takes wording from the federal First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), another bill that Americans United has been watching carefully.

From Think Progress:

State legislatures have not officially convened for their 2016 sessions, but anti-LGBT bills are already piling up for consideration. The latest such bill was pre-filed last week in New Mexico. Despite the fact its sponsors have called it a “religious liberty” bill, the legislation blatantly carves out exemptions so that LGBT people — and only LGBT people — can be legally discriminated against...

For example, the bill begins by expanding the state’s already-broad definition of the legal term “person” to include “a limited liability company,” “any legal or commercial entity,” or any “business trust, estate, trust.” This ensures that all businesses of all sizes are recognized by the bill’s exemptions.

The bill then adds a definition for “free exercise of religion”: “an act or a refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief.” Thus, if a wedding vendor refuses to serve a same-sex couple, it wouldn’t matter if that action would constitute a violation of the state’s nondiscrimination law. Such discrimination would simply be a religious act and thus entitled to the bill’s protections.

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