Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana, is coming under fire after signing into the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ into law. Many say the controversial bill will lead to discrimination against minorities, particularly LGBT+ people. Pence has refused on multiple occasions to directly answer the question of whether or not the law would legally allow a merchant to refuse LGBT+ customers.
‘This is not about discrimination,’ he said. ‘This is about empowering people to confront government overreach.’
He continued later, ‘The issue here is still [whether] tolerance is a two-way street or not.’
The controversial bill says that state laws cannot ‘substantially burden’ a person’s ability to follow their religious beliefs. Under the law, a ‘person’ can include religious institutions, businesses and associations.
There has been harsh criticism in response to the law from businesses and organizations throughout the United States. #BoycottIndiana has caught on in social media. Angie’s List, a consumer review service, has suspended a planned expansion in Indianapolis specifically because of the law. It is estimated that the state will lose around 1,000 jobs as the result of this decision.
Pence was reportedly in talks with legislative leaders over the weekend and expects a clarification bill to be introduced in the coming week. ‘…if the General Assembly… sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, then I’m open to that.’
Pence also made it clear in the same statement that he is ‘…not going to change this law.’
Supporters of the law claim it will prevent the government from forcing people to provide services they object to on religious grounds. Detractors of the law say that this is nothing more than a state-sanctioned waiver for discrimination against minorities.
The bill is slated to take effect in July.