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Indiana Governor Calls For "Fix" To Controversial Religious Freedom Law

Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday that he wants a bill, this week, that would "fix" the law to clarify it does not "give businesses the right to deny services to anyone." When asked about his explanation of the controversial law this weekend, he said, "I could have handled that better."

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Updated on

What You Need To Know:

  • Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on March 26 signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which many argued allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.
  • Businesses, sports teams, and advocates around the country lashed out against the bill, and Pence said it needed to be clarified.
  • Indiana Democrats drafted repeal legislation, but Republicans said it wouldn't pass.
  • On Tuesday, Pence said he wants a bill on his desk this week that would "fix" the law, making clear that "this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone."
  • Pence insisted that the law, as it stands, would not allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. He added that idea was a "smear" on the act.
  • Pence did not make clear what specific language he wanted to see in this week's bill.
  • "Was I expecting this kind of backlash?" Pence said. "Heavens no."
  • He defended the original law's intent as a bipartisan idea that has been federal law for decades. "This is about restraining government overreach," he said.

Updates

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Pence said he is "grateful" for those who stood by Indiana and the law.

He said that local media in Indiana has mostly gotten its reporting of the law correct, but the national media has gotten it all wrong.

"Some of the national reporting on this has been ridiculous," he said.

He also called the national media's coverage "reckless and irresponsible reporting."

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Pence said that the law's "precipating event" was Hobby Lobby's successful challenge to the contraception mandate in ObamaCare.

Pence said that the Hobby Lobby case is an example of the good the federal religious freedom law has done to protect people of faith.

In the case, the Supreme Court ruled the craft store chain had the right to not include contraception coverage in health care plans to its employees.

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When asked if the law has affected Indiana's reputation, Pence said absolutely not.

He said the state has maintained its good name, it is just the law that has been smeared.

"The name and reputation of the people of Indiana is strong and secure," he said.

Pence said that even though the "integrity" of the state legislature has been called into question, it can be fixed.

"We will fix this and we will move forward," he said. "That's what Hoosiers do."

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Pence said he could have never predicted the backlash the law would create.

"Indiana has come under the harsh glare of criticism from around the country," he said.

He added that he could have explained the law better when asked about it over the weekend, and it is clear that the public perception is that the law allows discrimination.

"I can appreciate that that's become the perception, not just here in Indiana but across the country," he said.

Pence said now the state needs to make it "very clear" that the law does not allow discrimination.

He said that insinuation is insulting, saying, "Hoosiers are the most kindest, most generous, most decent people in the world."

"The things that have been said about our state have been at times deeply offensive to me," he said.

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Pence added that the law never gave anyone the license to discriminate.

He blamed the controversy surrounding the bill on "sloppy reporting" that "grossly mischaracterized" the bill.

"If I read some of the stuff about this bill, I would have had the same concerns Hoosiers have had...it just isn't so," he said.

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Pence said that the controversy surrounding the law has affected him on a personal level.

NBC News

"I abhor discrimination," he said. "The way I was raised was like most Hoosiers, with the golden rule."

He said he believes that everyone in the state shares that conviction.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he has asked the state assembly to pass a law this week to "clarify" the controversial religious freedom law.

He said the bill needs to clarify and fix the legislation, and make it clear businesses cannot deny service to anyone.

"We want to make it clear that Indiana is open for business," he said.