Pence: Indiana Being Subjected to Avalanche of Condemnation & Intolerance over Religious Freedom



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STEPHANOPOULOS: But I think one of the problems that people have pointed out is that in Indiana, your civil rights laws don’t include sexual orientation as a protected class. And even some of the supporters of the bill who were — who appeared with you when you signed the bill, Eric Miller of Advanced America wrote that, “It will protect those who oppose gay marriage.”

He put up this example. He said, “Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage.”

So this is a yes or no question.

Is Advance America right when they say a florist in Indiana can now refuse to serve a gay couple without fear of punishment?

PENCE: Well, let — let me explain to you, the purpose of this bill is to empower and has been for more than 20 years, George. This is not speculative. The purpose of this legislation, which is the law in all 50 states in our federal courts and it’s the law by either statute or court decisions in some 30 other states, is very simply to empower individual when they believe that actions of government impinge on their constitutional First Amendment freedom of religion.

And, frankly, George, there’s a lot of people across this country who — you’re looking at ObamaCare and the Hobby Lobby decision, looking at other cases, who feel that their religious liberty is being infringed upon and — and The Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the federal level and all the states now, including Indiana, who have it, are simply about addressing that.

This is not about discrimination, this is about…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But…

PENCE: — empowering people…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me try to…

PENCE: (INAUDIBLE).

STEPHANOPOULOS: — pin you…


PENCE: — government overreach here.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: — down here though, on it, because your supporters say it would.

And so yes or no, if a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?

PENCE: George, this is — this is where this debate has gone, with — with misinformation and frankly…

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s just a question, sir. Question, sir.

Yes or no?

PENCE: Well — well, this — there’s been shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and about its intention all over the Internet. People are trying to make it about one particular issue. And now you’re doing that, as well.

The issue here — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been on the books for more than 20 years. It does not apply, George, to disputes between individuals unless government action is involved. And in point of fact, in more than two decades, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never been used to undermine anti-discrimination laws in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, I’m…

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir…

PENCE: Look, the…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — I’m just bringing up a…

PENCE: — the question…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — (INAUDIBLE) from one of your supporters.

PENCE: — I think the real question here…

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was one of our supporters who was talking about the bill right there. It said it would protect a Christian florist who — against any kind of punishment.

Is that true or not?

PENCE: George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two way street or not?

I mean, you know, there’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today having to do with people on the left. And a — but here Indiana steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state and this avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is just outrageous.

You’ve been to Indiana a bunch of times. You know it. There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana.

And yet because we simply stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana, of every faith, we at — we have suffered under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation and it’s completely baseless.

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