Mike Pence Promises To Fix Indiana Law So It Bars Discrimination

By on Mar 31, 2015 in Mobile Design | 0 comments

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has faced significant backlash after signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has faced significant backlash after signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) said Tuesday he will back an amendment to the state’s new “religious freedom” law clarifying that it does not allow businesses to deny service to anyone, and insisted that he never intended to discriminate against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“That is so offensive to me as a Hoosier,” Pence said during a press conference in Indianapolis, casting himself, the GOP-controlled General Assembly and the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act as victims of “mischaracterizations” perpetrated by the media and the law’s opponents.

“I don’t believe for a minute that it was the intention of the General Assembly to create a license to discriminate, or a right to deny services to gays, lesbians or anyone else in this state. And it certainly wasn’t my intent,” he added. “But I can appreciate that that’s become the impression — not just here in Indiana, but all across this country. And we need to confront that.”

RFRA would allow any individual or corporation to cite religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party, potentially opening up the door to businesses turning away gay and lesbian customers for religious reasons.

Pence said he wants the General Assembly to move legislation this week that would make it clear that businesses are not allowed to deny services to anyone. He continued to insist, however, that he does not support adding protections explicitly barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I never supported that,” said Pence. “I want to be clear. It is not on my agenda.”

But without such protections, many members of the LGBT community believe Pence isn’t going far enough. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said Pence needs to back such language in order to ensure that LGBT individuals are truly protected.

As a member of the House of Representatives, Pence — who retired from Congress in 2012 — received a 0 percent rating on LGBT issues from HRC.

Pence and his state have faced significant national backlash since he signed RFRA last week. The governors of Connecticut and Washington have imposed bans on state-funded travel to Indiana, and several events scheduled to be held in the state have been canceled. Organizers of Gen Con, which has been called the largest gaming convention in the country, are considering moving the gathering from Indiana as well.

Nearby cities like Chicago are capitalizing on the controversy, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) trying to lure Indiana-based businesses into his city.

HUFFPOST READERS: If you live in Indiana, we want to hear about how this law is affecting you. Email your story or any tips to [email protected] Include your name, the city you live in, and a phone number if you’re willing to be contacted by a reporter.

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