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Indiana governor signs fix to religious freedom law

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a revised version of his state’s religious freedom law on Thursday as he moved to end a national firestorm that put his state in the spotlight.

“Last weekend I called upon the Indiana General Assembly to clarify that this new judicial standard would not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual as its critics have alleged,” Pence said in a statement Thursday afternoon. 

“I am grateful for the efforts of legislators, business and other community leaders who came together to forge this clarifying language in the law,” he added. 

{mosads}Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed by the Indiana legislators last week, but asked for clarifying legislation after the law faced criticism and saw several states and major businesses move to boycott Indiana.

The governor is a potential 2016 presidential contender.

Critics said the law would allow businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on religious grounds. Opponents said that individuals and corporations denying services to LGBT people could cite the law as a defense in court.

Pence asked for language clarifying that the law did not allow discrimination against those groups.

“Hoosiers deserve to know, that even with this legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enhances protections for every church, non-profit religious organization or society, religious school, rabbi, priest, preacher, minister or pastor in the review of government action where their religious liberty is infringed,” Pence added Thursday. 

“The law also enhances protection in religious liberty cases for groups of individuals and businesses in conscience decisions that do not involve provision of goods and services, employment and housing,” he said. 

Pence acknowledged that even after the new legislation, some would criticize the law, which supporters said was similar to a federal law passed in 1993 and other laws on the books in several states.

“There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first and ask myself every day, ‘What is best for Indiana?’ I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana,” he said.

“Our state is rightly celebrated for our pro-business environment, and we enjoy an international reputation for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance and kindness of our people. Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan; it is our way of life,” added Pence.

“Now that this is behind us, let’s move forward together with a renewed commitment to the civility and respect that make this state great.” 


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