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Indiana governor approves changes to state’s religious freedom law

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence approved changes today to a religious freedom law that recently came under fire due to the belief that the new rules would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers under the protection of religious belief.

Republican leaders in the Indiana legislature announced earlier Thursday a proposal aiming to clarify the state’s controversial law.

At a news conference on Thursday, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and state Senate President Pro Tem David Long unveiled new language that would alter Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to prevent state businesses from refusing service to gay and lesbian customers.

“What was intended as a message of inclusion was interpreted as a message of exclusion, especially for the LGBT community,” Bosma said. “Nothing could have been further from the truth, but it was clear the perception had to be addressed.”

The clarifications, Long added, would “unequivocably state that [Indiana’s religious freedom] law does not and will not be able to discriminate against anyone, anywhere at any time.”

The original legislation has been subjected to intense scrutiny, increasingly so since it was signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week. Several states have banned government-funded travel to Indiana, while several businesses and performers have launched boycotts. Though Pence has continued to defend the legislation — stating that the law’s “perception problem” could be attributed to being “grossly mischaracterized” by the media — he welcomed the chance to sign any amendments to clarify the law.

The bill would had to pass both houses of Indiana’s legislature before it reached the governor’s desk.

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