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The measure, which takes effect in July, prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.
Critics say the catalyst for the measure was to allow businesses, such as florists and bakeries, to refuse services to same-sex couples following the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.
Pence and other supporters of the law contend discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds.
They also maintain that courts haven’t allowed discrimination under similar laws covering the federal government and 19 other states.
But state Rep. Ed DeLaney, an Indianapolis Democrat, said Indiana’s law goes further and opens the door to discrimination.
Article continues below“This law does not openly allow discrimination, no, but what it does is create a road map, a path to discrimination,” he told the large, boisterous crowd that gathered outside of the Statehouse on Saturday.
“Indiana’s version of this law is not the same as that in other states. It adds all kinds of new stuff and it moves us further down the road to discrimination,” said DeLaney.
Saturday’s crowd, for which police didn’t have an exact estimate, chanted “Pence must go!” several times and many people held signs like “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t hate anyone” and “No hate in our state.”