Top GOP legislators pan Pence over defense of religious law

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INDIANAPOLIS Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is getting some blame from fellow Republicans on how the state's new religious objections law is being perceived around the country.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said Monday that Pence raised the specter of the law permitting discrimination against gays and lesbians by not directly answering questions on the subject during a Sunday national television interview.

Pence was asked at least six times during the ABC interview whether the law would allow a merchant to refuse to serve gay customers.

Bosma says the law doesn't endorse discrimination against anyone. Senate President Pro Tem David Long says Pence should've stated that message on Sunday.

Long says he disagrees with a "small tribe" of law supporters who say it permits such discrimination.

Indiana plans language to 'clarify' religious objections law

Republican legislative leaders in Indiana say they are working on adding language to a new state law to make it clear that it doesn't allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The move comes amid widespread outcry over the measure that prohibits state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said at a news conference Monday that the law was meant to promote a message of inclusion but has instead led to one of exclusion. He blamed the fallout on a "mischaracterization" of the legislation.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the measure last week. He defended it during a television appearance Sunday but did not directly answer questions about whether it allowed discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Freedom Indiana announces legislative proposal to protect LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination
From Freedom Indiana

Freedom Indiana, the grassroots organization opposing the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), today announced a legislative solution to protect all LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination.

The RFRA, the first of its kind to be enacted following the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, has sparked statewide and national backlash from business executives, athletes, celebrities and others as Indianapolis prepares to host the Final Four next weekend.

On Sunday, Gov. Mike Pence refused to respond to repeated questions from a national political reporter about whether LGBT Hoosiers should be protected under Indiana law.

"Governor Pence can't answer the question, but we can," said Freedom Indiana campaign manager Katie Blair. "It's clear the RFRA, which has attracted so much local and national attention, is doing considerable damage to our state. Freedom Indiana is ready with a proactive legislative solution that will demonstrate our commitment to fair treatment for all and send the message that we're open for business. We urge the General Assembly to act quickly and pass this into law."

The "Fairness for All Hoosiers Act" legislative proposal would:

• Update the state laws against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations to provide protections for LGBT Hoosiers.

• Clarify that the recently enacted RFRA cannot be used to allow discrimination prohibited under state or local laws.

"If we don't act now, we will continue to do irreparable harm to Indiana's economy and our ability to attract top talent and jobs to our state," Blair said. "We're presenting this solution as a way to start rebuilding our reputation and to move on from this harmful legislation by ensuring protections for all Hoosiers."