INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana’s governor is defending a new state law that’s garnered widespread criticism over concerns it could foster discrimination and says it wasn’t a mistake for the state to have enacted it.
Gov. Mike Pence appeared on ABC TV’s “This Week” to discuss the measure he signed on March 26 prohibiting state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.
The Republican did not answer directly when asked six times whether it would be legal for a business to refuse to serve gay customers.
Pence says the law is “about empowering people to confront government overreach.”
He also says that if lawmakers send him a bill to clarify the law’s intent, he’ll look at it, but was adamant that “We’re not going to change this law.”
Hundreds of people, some carrying signs reading “no hate in our state,” gathered on March 28 outside the Indiana Statehouse for a boisterous rally against the new state law.
The crowd, for which police didn’t have an exact estimate, chanted “Pence must go!” several times and many people held signs like “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t hate anyone” and “No hate in our state.”
Zach Adamson, a Democrat on Indianapolis’ City-County Council, said to cheers that the law has nothing to do with religious freedom but everything to do with discrimination.
“This isn’t 1950 Alabama; it’s 2015 Indiana,” he told the crowd, adding that the law has brought embarrassment on the state.
Founder and CEO of Angie’s List, Bill Oseterle, says the consumer review service is suspending its plans for a $40 million expansion in Indianapolis because of Indiana’s new religious objections law.
Angie’s List had sought an $18.5 million incentive package from Indianapolis’ City-County Council to add 1,000 jobs over five years. Oseterle said in a statement that the expansion was on hold “until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees.”