Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Thursday
signed a bill opponents say will allow business owners to refuse to
serve members of the LGBT community based on their religious beliefs.
Pence, a Republican, signed the bill in
a private ceremony.
The bill seeks to prohibit any state
and local laws that “substantially burden” a person's ability to
follow his or her religious beliefs. A “person” is defined as an
individual, religious institution, business or association.
Pence said in a statement that the bill
was needed to ensure “religious liberty is fully protected under
“The Constitution of the United
States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition
of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel
their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” he
Pence also denied the bill will allow
“This bill is not about
discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any
way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it,” he said. “For more than
20 years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never
undermined our nation's anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in
Roughly a dozen other states are
considering similar legislation.
convention threatens to leave Indiana over anti-gay bill.)