RELIGION

Religious freedom laws, now divisive, weren't used in past to allow anti-gay discrimination

  • Indiana Gov. Mike Pence steps off the podium after a news conference discussing the state's new religious-freedom law, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Indianapolis. Pence said that he wants legislation on his desk by the end of the week to clarify that the state's new religious-freedom law does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence steps off the podium after a news conference discussing the state's new religious-freedom law, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Indianapolis. Pence said that he wants legislation on his desk by the end of the week to clarify that the state's new religious-freedom law does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday, March 30, 2015 file photo,m Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, center, cheers with protesters outside of the House chamber at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. A House committee earlier Monday advanced an amended version of a bill that opponents say allows discrimination against gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

    FILE - In this Monday, March 30, 2015 file photo,m Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, center, cheers with protesters outside of the House chamber at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. A House committee earlier Monday advanced an amended version of a bill that opponents say allows discrimination against gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)  (The Associated Press)

  • Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Indianapolis. Pence said that he wants legislation on his desk by the end of the week to clarify that the state's new religious-freedom law does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Indianapolis. Pence said that he wants legislation on his desk by the end of the week to clarify that the state's new religious-freedom law does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)  (The Associated Press)

Religious freedom laws like the one causing an uproar in Indiana have never been successfully used to defend discrimination against gays — and have rarely been used at all, legal experts say.

However, past may not be prologue in these cases, since gays have only recently won widespread legalization of same-sex marriage, and religious conservatives are now scrambling for new legal strategies to blunt the trend.

Gay rights advocates fear Indiana's law will allow caterers and florists, for example, to refuse to do business with same-sex couples.