Indiana officials, businesses scramble to stem ‘religious freedom’ law fallout

Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.)

Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) AP

Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.)AP

Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.)

INDIANAPOLIS — The heat over Indiana‘s new religious objections law spread Friday across social media and to the White House as many local officials and business groups around the state tried to jump in and stem the fallout.

Use of the hashtag #boycottindiana spread across Twitter, spurred on by activists such as “Star Trek” actor George Takei, who argued that the measure opens the door to legalized discrimination against LGBT people.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also tweeted his objections, saying he was “deeply disappointed” in the Indiana law.

Supporters of the bill that Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed Thursday say discrimination claims are overblown. They maintain courts haven’t allowed that to happen under similar laws covering the federal government and in 19 other states.

The measure, which takes effect in July, prohibits state and local laws that “substantially burden” the ability of people – including businesses and associations – to follow their religious beliefs.

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Some national LGBT rights groups say lawmakers in Indiana and about a dozen other states proposed such bills this year as a way to essentially grant a state-sanctioned waiver for discrimination as the nation’s highest court prepares to mull the same-sex marriage question.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Friday noted the negative reaction to the Indiana law from many businesses and organizations around the country.

“The signing of this bill doesn’t seem like it’s a step in the direction of equality and justice and liberty for all Americans,” he said.

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