In the face of criticism from many areas of society, Indiana’s governor Mike Pence is seeking clarification on a religious freedom bill he signed into law last 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.
“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.
The law has drawn the ire of companies like Apple, and others have called for a boycott of the state. University of Connecticut basketball coach Kevin Ollie has said he will not attend the Final Four this weekend in Indianapolis over the law, despite the fact that his team is the reigning champion going into the tournament.
It has been customary for the winning coach from the previous season to appear at the Final Four, as well as the annual convention of the National Association of Basketball Coaches that coincides with the crowning of a new champion. Ollie had been scheduled to attend the coaching summit, which organizers said is expected to draw 3,500 people to Indiana’s capital city.
Nineteen other states have enacted similar laws, which echo a bipartisan bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Pence and other Republicans are quick to state that the intent of the law is not to discriminate, but to protect people of faith.
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.
Advocates for religious freedom have expressed concern that people of faith are vulnerable to attacks from the government. A similar measure has passed in Arkansas, while an initiative in Georgia looks not to pass this year.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / PromesaArtStudio