Martin O’Malley: GOP support for Indiana religious freedom law ‘shameful’

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley arrives for a Politics and Eggs breakfast with area business leaders, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Bedford, N.H. The stop is one of many for those seeking their party's nomination for president in the nation's earliest presidential primary state. Jim Cole, AP

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley arrives for a Politics and Eggs breakfast with area business leaders, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Bedford, N.H. The stop is one of many for those seeking their party's nomination for president in the nation's earliest presidential primary state.  Jim Cole, AP

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley arrives for a Politics and Eggs breakfast with area business leaders, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Bedford, N.H. The stop is one of many for those seeking their party’s nomination for president in the nation’s earliest presidential primary state.

BEDFORD, N.H. — Likely Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley says it’s “shameful” for Republicans to support an Indiana law that critics see as legalizing discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The former Maryland governor criticized 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls while in New Hampshire on Tuesday. Several have expressed support for the law, which prevents the state from restricting the ability of people and businesses to express their religious beliefs. Opponents say the law will allow businesses to refuse service to people, based on sexual orientation.

O’Malley said Republican support for the law reflects a fundamental difference between the two parties. Democrats, he says, want more people to participate fully in society.

“I think it’s shameful that presidential candidates in this day and age would try to give cover to a law that is sweeping across a lot of Republican-governed states,” he said, and that would “give license to the discrimination of gay and lesbian people.” He said: “It’s not who we are as a country.”

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Struggling with a backlash against the measure, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday he now wants legislation on his desk to clarify that the new law does not allow discrimination.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, an announced 2016 contender, applauded Pence for signing the law and said it is not discriminatory.

O’Malley is traveling to early voting states seeking to build support for a possible 2016 bid as Democrats consolidate around former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She’s expected to announce her candidacy in coming weeks.

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