Ohio leaders aim to capitalize on criticism of Indiana religious freedom law

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Officials in Ohio are aiming to capitalize on backlash against a religious-objections law in neighboring Indiana that critics say could permit discrimination against gays and lesbians.

In Dayton, officials are working to attract companies and individuals looking to leave Indiana because they oppose the new law, touting the southwestern Ohio city’s recognition for diversity and inclusiveness, the Dayton Daily News reported.

On Wednesday, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley joined U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and city officials from Canton and Columbus to urge Indiana businesses to set up shop in Ohio.

The Indiana law uses religion as a crutch to discriminate, Brown said.

“No one would tolerate a business in this country today refusing to sell to somebody because they’re black,” said Brown, a Democrat. “We should not allow a business to refuse to sell to someone because they’re gay, pure and simple.”

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The Indiana law prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The law doesn’t mention gays and lesbians, but opponents say it’s designed to protect businesses and individuals who don’t want to serve them.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has asked lawmakers to send him a bill clarifying the intent of the law by the end of the week.

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