JACL Weighs in on Religious Freedom Laws


The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) has a long-standing policy of protecting the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community to marriage equality and to live their lives without fear of discrimination.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

As the first non-LGBTQ organization to come out in support of same-sex marriage in 1994, JACL strongly opposes the passage of any law that may cause discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Last week, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a law that could allow businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals under the guise of religious freedom. Shortly thereafter, the law was repeated in Arkansas. Supporters of the law argue that religious liberties are under attack, and that the bill is not anti-LGBTQ.

However, the public outcry was swift and forceful in denouncing the law, and members of the business sector threatened economic consequences. This caused the governor and legislature in Indiana to backtrack and amend the law so that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be used as a defense in some kinds of discrimination cases.

Jeffrey Moy, JACL vice president for public affairs, commented, “Religious freedom is a founding principle of this country and must be protected. However, protecting one community must never come at the expense of another. The public outcry in response to the recent bills in Indiana and Arkansas underscores this point, and hopefully will lead to more conscious consideration of these issues as similar bills are drafted in other states.”



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