Indiana Governor Wants Changes To Religious Objections Law

March 31, 2015
Indiana Governor Mike Pence holds a news conference on March 26.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 26, 2015.

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he wants legislation clarifying that a new religious-freedom law does not allow discrimination on his desk by the end of the week.

Pence said Tuesday he has been meeting with lawmakers "around the clock'' to address concerns that the law will allow businesses to deny services to gays and lesbians.
 
The law signed by Pence last week prohibits state laws that "substantially burden'' a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of "person'' includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.
 
Pence says the law has been "grossly mischaracterized'' and has put Indiana under a harsh glare. Businesses and organizations including Apple and the NCAA have voiced concern over the effect of the law, and some states have barred government-funded travel to Indiana.

Tuesday morning, The Indianapolis Star urged Indiana lawmakers in a front-page editorial to respond to widespread criticism of a new religious objections law by protecting the rights of gays and lesbians.
 
The Star's editorial, headlined "FIX THIS NOW,'' covers the newspaper's entire front page. It calls for lawmakers to enact a law that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
 
The newspaper says the uproar sparked by Indiana's new law has "done enormous harm'' to the state and potentially to its economic future. 

The Star says the religious objections law "can co-exist'' with a law protecting gays and lesbians and calls for "bold action.''

UPDATE Tuesday afternoon -  Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma says lawmakers haven't yet been reached agreement on a proposal for a clarifying the state's new religious objections law.
 
The Republican speaker says he shares Gov. Pence's goal of having that legislation done this week, but that talks were continuing Tuesday afternoon on how to specify that the law doesn't allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.
 
Democratic lawmakers say such action would be a patchwork response and continue to maintain that a full repeal of the law is needed.
 
House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath says a patchwork change to the law won't satisfy concerns that have been raised from business executives and others around the country.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has banned non-essential, state-funded travel to Indiana after that state adopted the religious freedom law.

The Democratic governor announced the ban Tuesday, saying it shows the state stands by "our LBGT family members, friends and colleagues.''
 
The ban will apply to all state agencies - including its public universities and colleges - and means they wouldn't be able to participate in athletic or academic events in Indiana.
 
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a similar travel ban on Monday.

Story source: AP