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Pence Wants RFRA Changed By Week's End; Dems Still Want Repeal

Gretchen Frazee
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence says he wants to see legislation on his desk by the end of the week that clarifies the intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA.

The governor says RFRA is meant to protect people’s religious liberties and does not allow businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian couples.

“No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love or what they believe," Pence says.

Pence says much of the criticism Indiana has been receiving is because of misunderstanding about what the law actually does.

And that’s why he’s been working around the clock with lawmakers to come up with legislation that would make it clear that RFRA is not a license to discriminate. The governor says the exact wording of that legislation is still being worked out.

Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, say the governor is not addressing the real problem RFRA and are still calling for repeal of  the law.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) and Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) are criticizing Gov. Pence for trying to put a bandage on the major problems RFRA has caused.

But Tim Lanane says the governor is missing the point.

“What’s happened here is that this situation created by this bill has gone from beyond from being just about this bill and whether this bill has a license to discriminate to the very very question of does Indiana discriminate,” he says.

Gov. Pence called on lawmakers to pass clarifying legislation by the end of the week. But Democrats argue the changes shouldn't be rushed and if RFRA can't be repealed the General Assembly should at least add sexual orientation to the state's civil rights statute banning discrimination statewide.

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