Hours after hundreds of protesters rallied outside the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, Republican Gov. Mike Pence said he will support introducing legislation that clarifies the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he told the Indianapolis Star.
The controversial act prohibits state and local governments from enacting laws that “substantially burden” people, groups and businesses from conducting themselves in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs. Opponents claim that it legalized discrimination against LGBT people.
“I support religious liberty, and I support this law,” Pence told the Indianapolis Star. “But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”
Pence said he expects new legislation to be introduced this coming week. He did not disclose any more details on what the new legislation would include. But when asked by the Indianapolis Star, he did say that “making gay and lesbian Hoosiers a protected legal class” was not on his agenda.
Thousands of people have protested at the Statehouse since Pence signed the bill into law Thursday and a rally was held on Saturday afternoon. Pence defended the law and spoke out against the protests, saying he believed that demonstrators misunderstood the law's purpose.
Several business and corporate leaders have taken stands against the law and acted against the state of Indiana. Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle announced that he had abandoned his plans to expand his headquarters in the city, and Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke out against the law. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said that he would cancel all company travel to Indiana, and did not reverse the decision even after a conversation with Pence.
Pence told the Indianapolis Star that he did not expect such a reaction against the bill. He also blamed the media for writing “irresponsible headlines.” Pence is scheduled to appear on Sunday’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, the Indianapolis Star reports.