Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has signed a bill that grants protection to individuals and businesses discriminating against the LGBT community by citing religious beliefs as defense. The “religious freedom” bill was signed in private, following pressure from its opponents who worry that the law could encourage more discrimination against gays and lesbians.
“This bill is not about discrimination,” Pence said, as quoted by Indianapolis Star, adding, “and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”
While the bill, formally called Senate Bill 101, does not specifically mention sexual orientation, it still “prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion,” which critics say would be undoubtedly exercised by businesses against the LGBT community.
The governor also announced his signing of the law via Twitter. He is seen surrounded by supporters, monks, nuns, and conservative lobbyists.
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) March 26, 2015
Cloud computing company Salesforce had threatened to withdraw all activities in Indiana should the bill gets signed.
After Pence’s announcement, CEO Marc Benioff didn’t waste time cancelling company events.
Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination. http://t.co/SvTwyCHxvE
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) March 26, 2015
Meanwhile, Gen Con, a massive annual gaming convention, attracted more than 56,000 attendees at the Indiana Convention Center. In a statement released to Pence, Adrian Swartout, CEO of Gen Con LLC, announced that Senate Bill 101 “will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.”
Governor Mike Pence
Having grown in an Irish Catholic setting, Pence admitted he puts his personal notion of moral truth above all else.
“For me it all begins with faith,” he told CBN News.
“It begins with what matters most and I try and put what I believe to be moral truth first, my philosophy of government second, and my politics third.”
In 2012, Pence compared the upholding of President Obama’s health care law to the terrorist attack of Sept. 11. He soon apologized through a statement to Politico.
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