In a press conference in Indianapolis on March 31, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence assured critics the state would change its controversial new legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, to protect all citizens based on gender and sexual orientation.
In his speech, the governor told state lawmakers to pass a new law quickly and make it understood “that this law does not give businesses the right to deny service to anyone.”
He called the upcoming changes a “clarification” and a “fix” needed to combat the perception that the law is meant to discriminate against gays.
Pence stood by the overall legislation, stating he would not veto or repeal it. He also said the law would not add specific and direct protections for gays or transgender citizens, as he believed that would be infringing on the religious beliefs of business owners who may refuse to provide service to those they disagree with.
Pence also accused the media of not reporting all the information associated with the controversial legislation, saying, “This law has been smeared.”
“Early on, there was some really reckless and irresponsible reporting about this. The perception of this has, you know, gone far afield from what the law really is,” the governor said.
The backlash to the law has been dramatic so far — the CEO of Angie’s List canceled a $40 million expansion project in Indianapolis, Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is gay, criticized the law and threatened to not do business in the Hoosier state, and the NCAA threatened to move the location of the Final Four basketball matches to a different state, costing Indiana millions of dollars in revenue.
Another 19 states have similar laws to Indiana’s RFRA, but the other states also included specific protections against discrimination of all citizens. Indiana’s current bill does not state that explicitly, only going as far to protect business owners from prosecution.
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