News (USA)

Indiana lawmakers suggest deal close on clarifying religious freedom law

Indiana State House in Indianapolis.
Indiana State House in Indianapolis.

Updated: 11:30 p.m. EDT

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s Republican legislative leaders moved toward a possible agreement Wednesday on how to clarify the state’s new religious-objections law in hopes of quashing concerns that it could allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Those leaders huddled behind closed doors for several hours with Gov. Mike Pence, fellow Republican lawmakers and business executives as they worked on language they hope to have ready for possible votes Thursday.

House Speaker Brian Bosma emerged Wednesday night from a private meeting of House Republicans and said they were “very closely united” on a proposal but that he still needed to talk with Senate leaders and others.

Bosma and Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long met at least twice Wednesday with Pence, who requested the changes Tuesday after signing the measure last week and enduring days of sharp criticism from around the country.

Bosma said he didn’t know about the governor’s support, but said he was hopeful of support from business executives who’ve joined in decrying the law.

“I believe we’re going to be on the same page,” Bosma said.

Long said late Wednesday afternoon that the leaders were “very hopeful.”

“But we’re not there yet, so we’re going to keep plugging away,” he said.

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Among those who met Wednesday with Bosma and Long was Mark Miles, the CEO of Hulman & Co., which owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Miles declined to comment about the talks as he left Bosma’s office Wednesday afternoon.

The law prohibits any 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.

Pence called Tuesday for legislation that clarified the law’s intent before this weekend’s NCAA basketball Final Four. He made no public comments Wednesday.

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