Texas Senator and presidential
candidate Ted Cruz on Thursday lashed out at opponents of so-called
religious freedom bills critics say target the LGBT community.
Supporters of the bills say they
protect religious freedom, but opponents argue that without LGBT
protections they would allow businesses to discriminate against gay
men and lesbians.
Backlash from passage of such a bill in
Indiana led Republican Govern Mike Pence to ask lawmakers for a
“fix.” Within days, he was doing what he had previously vowed
not to: signing a bill that added LGBT protections to Indiana's
Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The political skirmish
also forced Arkansas to reconsider its own proposal, though the fix
there was to limit the scope of the bill, addressing only actions by
the government, not by businesses or individuals.
Conservatives who looked to the
measures as a response to court rulings striking down state gay
marriage bans were infuriated by the alterations to the bills.
Appearing at a presidential candidates
forum in Iowa, Cruz
warned a crowd of homeschooling activists against the “jihad
that is being waged right now in Indiana and Arkansas, going after
people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is
the union of one man and one woman.”
Cruz added that he could “bring
people together” to defend religious freedom.