March 31, 2015

Pence Holds Press Conference on RFRA Clarification

Gov. Mike Pence addresses reporters this afternoon regarding the state's RFRA statute.  - Gretchen Frazee/WFIU

Gov. Mike Pence addresses reporters this afternoon regarding the state's RFRA statute.

Gretchen Frazee/WFIU

Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday took the podium for the second time in a week to address concerns about Indiana's new religious freedom law that has sparked national controversy over what some claim is legislation that gives businesses a legal right to discriminate.

Pence said he acknowledges the law has what he calls "a perception problem" that needs to be fixed. But he stopped short of saying that fix could potentially including classifying LGBT individuals as a protected class under the state's anti-discrimination statutes.

"I think that's a separate issue," Pence said regarding calls for the General Assembly to add anti-discrimination language referring to the LGBT community. "It's not my position. I'm not advocating for it. I understand that some people. But that's a separate question that ought to be considered separate from this idea of religious liberty."

Pence said he wants to assure the public across the country and at home that Indiana lawmakers are working on a clarification of the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act--or RFRA--that explicitly states the law gives businesses no license to discriminate individuals.

"I believe this is a clarification...but it's also a fix," Pence said. "It's a fix of a bill that, through mischaracterization and confusion, has come to be greatly misunderstood. And I'm determined to address this this week. And move forward together as a state."

Supporters of the law say it reinforces First Amendment religious liberties by establishing guidelines for state courts when litigating suits involving religious beliefs.

Indiana has received swift national blowback after Gov. Pence signed RFRA into law last week during a private ceremony at the Statehouse. Several large companies with operations in the state have said they will limit business or put on hold expansion plans until implications of the law are clear. Those include Salesforce, Inc., Angie’s List and Yelp. Alt-country band Wilco canceled an upcoming May concert in protest of the law.

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