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'I Abhor Discrimination': Gov. Pence Pins Need for Indiana Religious Freedom Law on Obamacare

Indiana's governor writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Obamacare made it imperative to ensure that "religious liberty is fully protected."
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/ Source: NBC News

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence swung back again Monday at critics of the state's controversial "religious freedom" law, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Obamacare had made it imperative to ensure that "religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law."

Noting that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act — which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993 — didn't apply to states, Pence argued in an article being published Tuesday that Indiana was only doing what 19 other states have done. And he stressed that Indiana's identically named law has nothing to do with limiting the rights of same-sex couples.

"I abhor discrimination. I believe in the Golden Rule that you should 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you,'" Pence wrote. "If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn't eat there anymore."

Pence said his support for the law was driven by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which he said "renewed concerns about government infringement on deeply held religious beliefs."

Pence cited a 2014 Supreme Court decision, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, to back up his argument. That ruling found that federal regulations requiring religious employers to provide their female employees with free access to contraception were unconstitutional.

"Indiana's new law contains no reference to sexual orientation," Pence wrote, adding: "As governor of Indiana, if I were presented a bill that legalized discrimination against any person or group, I would veto it."

Pence has gone on the offensive in the face of opposition from a wide array of social, cultural and business institutions that have accused Indiana of having given business owners license to discriminate against gay people and same-sex couples.

Sunday, Pence told ABC News that the backlash was fueled by "shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and its intention."



— M. Alex Johnson