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Indiana Gov. Pence Vows to 'Clarify' Religious Freedom Law

Image: Indiana Gov. Pence Vows to 'Clarify' Religious Freedom Law
(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 31 Mar 2015 10:22 AM

Indiana GOP Gov. Mike Pence has said legislators in his state will "clarify" a new religious freedom law that critics say would allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals.

"I abhor discrimination," Pence told Fox News.

Pence said he continues to back the law and that it was never intended to be a "license to discriminate," despite claims otherwise.

"We'll clarify that in the days ahead, and we'll fix this and move forward."

Legislators have already said they would rework the law to make clear that businesses would not discriminate against gays and lesbians.

The law that was signed last week prohibits state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs and encompasses religious institutions, businesses and associations. It triggered concerns that businesses could deny services to homosexuals.

"What we had hoped for with the bill was a message of inclusion, inclusion of all religious beliefs," Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said, according to Fox News. "What instead has come out is a message of exclusion, and that was not the intent."

In his comments to Fox News, Pence insisted that the law is not discriminatory and noted that it "mirrors" one signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and other laws on the books in roughly 30 states.

Indiana's law, however, differs in that it includes a business provision while the state does not have a law explicitly banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Despite Pence's commitment to adjusting the law, some Democrats are calling for a full repeal while some Republicans are also expressing concerns.

Indianapolis GOP Mayor Greg Ballard said the law threatens to undermine the city's economic growth and could have a negative impact on the city's attractiveness as a convention and tourism destination. He called on lawmakers to institute protections for homosexuals within Indiana's civil rights laws, Fox News reported.

"I call upon Governor Pence and the Indiana Legislature to fix this law. Either repeal it or pass a law that protects all who live, work, and visit Indiana. And do so immediately. Indianapolis will not be defined as this," Ballard said, according to Fox News.

In a column for The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Pence said "the law is not a 'license to discriminate'" and reflects federal law. But he said Obamacare "renewed concerns about government infringement on deeply held religious beliefs."

"Faith and religion are important values to millions of Indiana residents," he wrote. "With the passage of this legislation, Indiana will continue to be a place that respects the beliefs of every person in our state."

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Indiana GOP Gov. Mike Pence has said legislators in his state will "clarify" a new religious freedom law that critics say would allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals.
Mike Pence, religious freedom law, indiana, legislature, gays
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2015-22-31
Tuesday, 31 Mar 2015 10:22 AM
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