Indiana Governor Mike Pence defended the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that he signed into law on Thursday.
The bill, which the Inquisitr reported last week is seen by many as an attack on the LGBTQ community, was signed into law by the Republican governor on Thursday and will go into effect in July. Pence says the legislation forbids laws that would “substantially burden” a person, business, religious institution, or association in their ability to follow their religious beliefs.
Fox News reports that Pence insists the law is “not about discrimination,” and that the state’s lawmakers have no intention of changing the law, despite the backlash that passing of the legislation has caused.
Many fear the law will support discrimination against gay people, and according to Yahoo News, Pence says he has no plans to add extra protections to prevent such discrimination, but would “consider” new suggestions from legislators.
Pence did, however, tell the Indianapolis Star on Saturday that he planned to introduce legislation to “clarify” that the bill is not about discrimination.
Supporters defend the bill, saying it will stop the government from forcing business owners into violating their religious beliefs.
But the law is being interpreted by opponents as a way to allow any business to refuse service to the LGBTQ community, as well as any other groups that do not share their religious beliefs.
“There has been shameless rhetoric about my state, about this law, and about its intention all over the Internet,” Pence said in defense of the law. “It does not apply to disputes between individuals, unless government action is involved.”
Yet, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, Pence seemed to avoid a direct answer when asked several times if the law would make it legal for a merchant to refuse to serve gay people, finally saying, “Look, the issue here is still, is tolerance a two-way street or not?”
Boycott Indiana protesters have taken to the streets in Indianapolis and across the country, and Seattle city employees have been prohibited from traveling to Indiana on city funds. Celebrities and major corporations such as Walmart have also expressed opposition to the law, and opponents have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #BoycottIndiana to express their disapproval.
If your faith is so fragile it can be broken by baking a cake for a gay couple, your faith wasn’t that strong to begin with. #BoycottIndiana
— Aღanda (@GrnEyedMandy) March 29, 2015
— Towleroad (@tlrd) March 29, 2015
— Bernie Matthew (@berniematthew) March 29, 2015
— James F. Haning II (@jameshaning) March 29, 2015
What do you think of the religious freedom act? Should businesses be allowed to refuse services to those who they feel are violating their personal religious beliefs? Or is it opening the door to discrimination?
[Image via SF Gate]