License to Discriminate? Pence Seeks Law's Clarification
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wants clarification that a new religious freedom law does not allow discrimination. He is calling for it to be on his desk by the end of the week.
Pence made the announcement Tuesday, acknowledging his state has a "perception problem" over the law designed to protect religious liberty.
Since Pence signed the bill into law last week, critics have hit the streets and social media saying it discriminates against gays and lesbians. The objections to the law stretch from the White House to Hollywood.
The governor has since been meeting with lawmakers to address those concerns. Pence is still defending the bill. Watch his press conference below.
CBN's Efrem Graham spoke with Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, about the controversy surrounding Indiana's Religious Freedom law. Click play below to watch.
"I don't believe for a minute that it was the intent of the General Assembly to create a license to discriminate. It certainly wasn't my intent," he said.
"I can appreciate that that's become the perception, not just here in Indiana but all across the country. We need to confront that," Pence added.
Organizations like Apple have voiced concern over the law's impact. Some states have also barred government-funded travel to Indiana.
Tuesday, Indianapolis Star also printed a front-page editorial urging lawmakers to respond to the criticism and take action to protect the rights of gays and lesbians.
*Is Indiana's religious freedom law simply a blank check to discriminate? Brad Jacob, associate professor at the Regent University School of Law, addressed that question and more.
The law itself is similar to one that 19 other states have passed. It simply allows religious minorities who believe their conscience rights have been violated a day in court to air their grievances.
But gay rights supporters say it encourages discrimination, prompting the backlash. Some major companies, like Yelp, say it may affect their business in the state. And the NCAA said it's reconsidering its investment in Indiana.
"We have to say, 'Alright, what are we going to do if this law goes into effect in July, and what's our relationship with the state of Indiana going to be?'" NCAA President Mark Emmert said.
In Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Pence penned an op-ed saying the law is not a license to discriminate. Republican lawmakers in Indiana echoed that sentiment.
"What we hoped for with the bill was the message of inclusion -- inclusion of all religious beliefs. What has come out was the message of exclusion and that was not the intent and hopefully not the effect," state House Speaker Brian Bosma said.
Bosma said lawmakers are looking to clarify through legislation that the law does not discriminate.
In the meantime, advocates for religious liberty are bemoaning the outcry against a law designed to encourage the protection of religious freedom.
"For the first time in the history of our country religious liberty is under uniform attack by the government. It's never happened before, never," former Pennsylvania Gov. Rick Santorum said.
In 1991, President Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Like the state laws, it instructed federal courts to support individual religious liberty unless the government could demonstrate a compelling government interest.
The law enjoyed bipartisan support, but today such support is unthinkable as religious freedom is no longer a bedrock belief but a controversial issue.