Chris Christie defends Indiana governor on religious freedom law

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.)

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) AP

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.)AP

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.)

NEWARK, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has broken with some other potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders over an Indiana law that gives heightened protections to businesses or people objecting to providing certain services on religious grounds.

“We should not have a situation where people perceive that anybody will be denied service,” Christie said Wednesday.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has faced criticism since he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week. Critics of the law say its intention is to discriminate against gays by allowing those with religious objections to deny services, for instance, to same-sex couples trying to hire wedding vendors.

Supporters of the law say it will only give religious objectors a chance to bring their case before a judge.

Christie, in his first remarks on the subject in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, focused on defending Pence.

“I know Mike Pence, and he’s got nothing but love in his heart for people, and I just do not believe that in any way Mike Pence would intend for anything that happens in his state on his watch to be discriminatory towards any person,” Christie said.

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He said to the extent that something needs to be fixed “to clarify that no one will be denied service for discriminatory reasons, I’m sure that’s exactly what Mike will do,” according to a transcript from his office.

Pence on Tuesday called on state lawmakers to amend the law by the end of the week to clarify that it does not discriminate against gays.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry have defended Pence and the Indiana law in recent days.

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