On Sunday, Indiana governor Mike Pence has defended his state’s new “religious freedom” law, saying “it is not about discrimination.”
Receiving scores of objections and criticism, Pence further said he may consider a second law that “amplifies and clarifies” the first one, but he and other state lawmakers will not look forward to change it.
Pence had signed a legislation that prohibits Indiana laws to “burden” the ability of religious institutions, business and associations to follow their religious “beliefs.”
Pence told ABC’s This Week, “We have suffered under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation, and it’s completely baseless.
“This isn’t about disputes between individuals. It’s about government overreach.”
Indiana has been criticized widely by businesses and organizations since the bill was signed into law. Thousands of people came together in downtown Indianapolis and protested against it, while the state has also been subjected to immense reproach on social media.
In addition, consumer review service Angie’s List is also looking to put on hold a planned expansion worth $40 million because of the new law.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on ABC that, although Pence says that the law has been modeled after laws signed by President Clinton in 1993 and supported by then-state senator Barack Obama, the law “appears to legitimize discrimination.”
“If you have to go back two decades to try to justify something you are doing today, it may raise some questions about the wisdom of what you’re doing,” Earnest said. “Governor Pence is in damage control mode this morning, and he’s got some damage to fix.”
On Sunday, host of ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos, asked Pence if the law will allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians; the question targeted whether businesses –florists and photographers, for example – could refuse to cater for same-sex marriages.
Pence, in response, accused the media and outside groups of an “avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state.”
“When you see these headlines about Indiana, a license to discriminate in Indiana … it is a red herring, and I think it’s deeply troubling to millions of Americans and, frankly, people all across the state of Indiana who feel troubled about government overreach,” he said.
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