Ind. Governor Battles Backlash Over 'Religious Freedom' Bill

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is speaking out to "clarify" a bill that he says defends religious freedom, but opponents say allows discrimination.
Posted at 12:07 PM, Mar 29, 2015

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" was the latest in his effort to "clarify" the controversial bill he signed into law Thursday. 

"This is not about discrimination; this is about empowering people to confront government overreach," Pence said.

"George, you're following the mantra of the last week online, and you're trying to make this issue about something else," Pence said.

Pence refused to answer Stephanopoulos' question about whether the law would enable discrimination, and instead accused the media of playing up the controversy over the bill. 

Indiana state Rep. Scott Pelath said"It's fundamentally unfair. We know what we're doing here; we're singling out a group of our friends and neighbors. ... Maybe Rep. Wesco or someone here can just offer a resolution, and it can say, 'I am uncomfortable with a certain group of my fellow citizens.'" 

Opponents of the bill, including some Indiana legislators, argue it would allow business owners opposed to same-sex marriage to use their religion as a defense when refusing to serve same-sex couples.

They point to the fact that high-profile supporters of the state's bill have said it will enable people to do just that, and that Indiana doesn't have any laws protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Pence told The Indianapolis Star, those kinds of laws aren't on his agenda.  

As more states have legalized same-sex marriage through the judiciary, opponents of same-sex marriage are pushing back through so-called "religious freedom" laws. 

A writer for The Washington Post argued, "Legislators are advancing laws that would, intentionally or not, ensure that gay people can be refused service, fired or evicted simply for being gay."

Legal scholars are divided over whether the law would actually change anything, with some arguing it's more sweeping than legislation in other states, and others arguing it's not.

This video includes images from Getty Images.