Success! Indiana To Clarify Religious Freedom Law

Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images.
After a week of growing public outcry, lawmakers in Indiana are going back to the drawing board to figure out a fix to a new law that could have allowed businesses to deny services to LGBT customers and other minority groups because of religious beliefs.

Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the bill March 26 in a private ceremony, announced in a news conference Tuesday that he had asked state legislators to send him a new bill "that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to  deny services to anyone." 

Pence also said he expects the bill on his desk by the end of the week.

The swift response to protests is a big win for opponents of the law. Indianapolis is set to host the NCAA Final Four this weekend, and NCAA leadership and many basketball players and coaches had expressed concern that businesses might discriminate against people in town for the tournament.

Other business leaders also spoke out. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a tweet that he was "deeply disappointed" by the law, and the head of tech company Salesforce also used the social network to announce that it was canceling all planned business to the state. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray both said that state and city employees would be barred from using public funds to travel to Indiana.

Despite the dramatic shift, Pence still insisted that the bill has just been misunderstood. "I believe this is a clarification, but it's also a fix," he said.

This week's victory in Indiana is a big one, but the fight against discrimination is not over. There are 20 states with religious freedom laws on the books now, and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson could be only days away from signing the 21st version. 

In the same tweet where Apple head Cook called out Indiana, he urged Arkansas to rejet the bill. The question now is whether other leaders will follow suit and turn their attention a few states to the south.
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