16 US states that have passed RFRA laws, but don’t protect sexual orientation from discrimination

The United States government defines a number of protected classes, or characteristics, of people, against which discrimination is illegal. Examples of protected classes include Sex, Veteran status, Race, and Age. Sexual orientation and identity are not included. Some states have defined additional protected classes beyond those defined by the federal government. California, for example, includes AIDS/HIV status and political affiliation as protected classes.

Indiana’s recent passage of a statewide Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has resulted in enormous media attention and controversy. The Indiana law is very similar to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by US Congress in 1993. Indiana’s RFRA allows businesses to potentially make the case that it is legal to discriminate against LGBT citizens for religious reasons, because Indiana does define sexual orientation or identity as a protected class.

Indiana is not the only state that has passed a law like the RFRA. Some states, such as Rhode Island, have similar laws, but also define sexual orientation as a protected class.

Here are the 16 states that have a version of the RFRA, but do not define sexual orientation as a protected class:

Alabama
Arizona
Florida
Idaho
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Mississippi
Missouri
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Virginia

Here are the 4 states that have a version of the RFRA, but do define sexual orientation as a protected class:

Connecticut
Illinois
New Mexico
Rhode Island

Sources:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/27/19-states-that-have-religious-freedom-laws-like-indianas-that-no-one-is-boycotting/
Information about protected classes by state: http://www.nolo.com/

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