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Likely presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) backed Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law, painting it as a necessary way to stop the government from forcing business owners to violate their religion.
“No one here is saying it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation. I think that’s a consensus view in America,” he said Monday on Fox News’s “The Five.”
“The flip side of it is: Should a photographer be punished for refusing to do a wedding that their faith teaches them is not one that is valid in the eyes of God.”
Rubio said the law has sparked a “difficult debate” about how far the laws would go, but he said people should focus more on how the law protects people from being forced to violate their religious views.
Co-host Julie Roginsky asked Rubio if he would support adding protections for sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, though he responded that he hasn’t heard that proposal before and doesn’t “fully understand how something like that would work.”
Rubio added that he sees the civil rights movement and marriage equality movement as different, because the former discusses the “innate value of a human being,” while the latter deals with the “definition of an institution.”
Indiana’s law, signed late last week, bars the government from action that would “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” without a strong compelling interest. While proponents, including Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), share Rubio’s view, critics charge that the law would legalize discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as long as there is some religious justification.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) signed an executive order Monday that barred the state from paying for travel to states with similar laws, characterizing Indiana’s law as “discrimination.” Leaders from a number of tech companies, including Apple, have criticized the law, and some companies are pulling business out of the state as a response.

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