Governor Mike Pence of Indiana seems to have caved into enormous pressure and will ask the state legislature for new legislation to make it clear that Christian florists and bakers could be forced to participate in weddings that violate their religious beliefs.
Last week, Indiana joined 19 other states and the federal government by enacting a law to protect religious believers from governmental encroachment on religious freedom. Such legislation was cited in the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision that determined religious employers could not be forced to supply abortion drugs to employees under ObamaCare.
In a packed press conference this morning, Pence did not give specifics about what the new legislation would say, only that he wants it to make clear that “Indiana businesses will not be able to discriminate against anyone for any reason.” He said the religion freedom bill he signed was never considered by him or the bill’s sponsors to allow a “license to discriminate.”
Such legislation has been read as supporting businesses and individuals not just to avoid supplying abortion drugs, but also allowing certain businesses to avoid serving gay weddings, usually bakers and photographers some who are now being run out of business for refusing to serve what they see as a religious ceremony that violates their own deeply held beliefs.
Pence and the state of Indiana absorbed a tsunami of protest from the main stream media, major corporations, athletes, movie stars and gay leaders after enacting the bill.
Religious freedom laws allow business and individuals to argue in court that the government is intruding upon “deeply held religious beliefs” and that they are “substantially burdened.” The government must show a “compelling goal” that cannot be met in any other way.
Advocates are calling for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as a new protected class in Indiana state law, something that is recognized in some Indiana municipalities. Pence says he does not advocate such special protections. Though Indiana does not have such broad protections of LGBTs, there are no reports of widespread discrimination against them.
Pence cited his youthful march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama with Martin Luther King as he said discrimination of any kind is abhorrent to him. “Hoosiers are a loving, kind, generous and tolerant people. We are known all over the world for that. And the idea that we would discriminate in any way is deeply offensive.”
Social conservatives, a base Pence would need if he tries to make it through the GOP primaries, were immediately upset.
Columnist Robert Knight tells Breitbart News, “Mr. Pence would do well to find out what Scott Walker had for breakfast when he faced down union mobs, the media and the ruling elites.”
Ohio activist Phil Burress adds, “What good is a religious freedom law if it does not protect religious freedom?”
One noted social conservative leader who spoke on condition of anonymity told Breitbart News,
Pence is being forced publicly to accept the false premise of the bullies on the other side — that his bill was a license to discriminate against LGBTs. Pence is being forced to change the law to put a thumb on the scale — to change a neutral balancing test so that the gay rights lobby always gets to win.
WMAL radio host Chris Plante pointed out today that Christians are easy targets for the LGBT lobby and the left and wondered if they would be willing to force “a Muslim baker to provide a sheet cake with the image of Muhammad on it.”
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse