FLASHBACK: When Megyn Kelly Thought A “Religious Freedom” Law Was “Potentially Dangerous”
April 03, 2015 2:01 pm ET by Carlos Maza
Megyn Kelly has become one of the most vocal defenders of Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law on Fox News, dismissing concerns that the law might be used to discriminate against LGBT people. But in 2014, she decried an almost identical “religious freedom” law in Arizona, calling it “potentially dangerous.”
In February of 2014, one state was embroiled in a debate over a “religious freedom” law that had earned national attention. LGBT groups, the business community, and even sports organizations had spoken out against the law, warning that it could be used to discriminate against LGBT customers.
That state was Arizona, which had passed SB 1062, a measure that gave individuals and business owners a legal defense for refusing to serve LGBT customers if doing so violated their religious beliefs.
At the time, even Fox’s Megyn Kelly seemed uncomfortable with the measure, which was passed with the explicit purpose of allowing business to refuse to serve same-sex weddings. During the February 25 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly invited Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume on to her show to discuss the “controversial” law, which she called “an overreaction” and “potentially dangerous,” warning that it could be used to deny medical service to LGBT people:
HUME: This bill, according to its critics, would go much farther than that. It would basically allow businesses generally to refuse to sell or to provide services to a gay couple, anyone who is gay, if they could -
KELLY: Even medical services.
HUME: Even medical services, perhaps, to someone on the basis of the fact that they are homosexual and their religion forbids homosexuality and therefore they’re sincere about it… It seems to me that’s an order of magnitude greater than the legal right to deny services to a gay wedding.
KELLY: I look at this bill and I wonder whether this is a reaction, an overreaction, to people who feel under attack on this score. And in the end, they may have struck back in a way that’s deeply offensive to many and potentially dangerous to folks who are gay and lesbians and need medical services and other services being denied potentially.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) ended up vetoing SB 1062, citing concerns about the law’s unintended consequences.
Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as it was initially adopted, was very similar to Arizona’s SB 1062. Unlike federal RFRA and “religious freedom” laws in other states, both measures broadly defined who could invoke RFRA as a defense in court. Neither measure required the government to be a party to a suit in order to invoke a “religious freedom” defense, and both measures were crafted for the express purpose of allowing anti-gay businesses to refuse to serve same-sex weddings.
But rather than criticize Indiana’s RFRA as an “overreaction” or “dangerous,” Megyn Kelly has been one of the principal defenders of the law on Fox , regularly dismissing concerns that the law could be used to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers. She called the measure “not that controversial,” accusing LGBT activists of “exploiting” national concern about the law in order to “prove their bona fides on gay and lesbian rights issues.” She’s repeatedly hosted the leader of an anti-gay hate group to defend the measure and misleadingly suggested that the measure wouldn’t threaten LGBT non-discrimination protections. She also ignored the broad scope of Indiana’s RFRA to falsely compare the measure to “religious freedom” laws in other states.
During a segment on the April 1 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly invited Hume to discuss an anti-gay business that was targeted by activists after publicly stating that it would refuse to serve same-sex weddings. Rather than raise concerns about the law’s discriminatory intent -- as she had done the last time she discussed a potentially discriminatory RFRA bill with Hume – Kelly asked “do you think there is room in today’s day and age for someone who does not believe in gay marriage to maintain that belief?”: