Indiana Governor Mike Pence, sat down with the media to discuss the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and his reactions to the outcry against his state, after the controversial signing of the bill on Thursday. Pence seemed to be shocked by the response his signing the bill into law has received. In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, the Indiana governor defended the law by saying, it was not discriminatory in nature, but he also refused to discuss adding protections for LGBT people as an amendment to the bill.
In the interview, Pence claimed that the bill was being mischaracterized by people from outside the state. He also claims that the bill he signed, is the same as every other RFRA law, that has been signed by the 19 previous states, who also offered legal religious protections. However, State Representative Ed Delaney, does not agree with this assertion from Pence. Delaney says that although this bill does not openly allow for discrimination, it does create what one might consider to be a path to discriminate.
Delaney went further by explaining that the bill in Indiana is actually different from the bill signed by the other states. He said that the bill adds in new things that lend itself towards allowing for discrimination. This is a fact that has already been put into act. Apparently since the bill was signed, a business owner called into a radio program, to brag about his using the law to discriminate against gay people, all in the name of his religious liberties.
Pence, however, still says that this bill is not about legally discriminating against people, and if he had thought that it was, then he would have vetoed it. Now he is seeking to get a bill before the statehouse that would allow for clarifications of the law. During his defense of the RFRA bill, however, the Indiana governor was asked if he would be adding protections for LGBT people, but he clearly said that was not at all a part of the agenda.
Although Pence is insisting that the RFRA bill is not a way to open the door for people to discriminate against LGBT people, he did acknowledge that the controversy has hurt his state. He said that not only has the image of Indiana been hurt, but so too has its potential economic health in the future. Still, Pence seems to believe that the outcry is due to not only misinformation, but also a fundamental misunderstanding of what the law actually allows.
While the Indiana governor is adamant in his defense that this law is not in fact discriminatory, he refuses to add protections for LGBT people onto the bill. Pence wants the protests to stop and the furor to die down, but he is not answering the demands of the people. So while he talks about adding clarifications to the law to show that the RFRA is not about discrimination, those who would be discriminated against will still not have the protections they need from the law.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo by WFIU Public Radio – Flickr License