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Indiana Governor Says Controversial Religious Freedom Law May Need To Be Clarified

Gov. Mike Pence told the Indy Star he still supports the legislation, but wants to ensure its "intent" is clear.

Posted on March 29, 2015, at 11:16 a.m. ET

Michael Conroy / AP

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Saturday that a controversial religious freedom bill he signed into law last week may need to be clarified to ensure it doesn't discriminate against the LGBT community.

Pence said that he would support new legislation that would "clarify" the intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been decried by LGBT activists across the country.

"I support religious liberty, and I support this law," Pence said in an interview with the Indy Star. "But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there's a way to clarify the intent of the law."

Pence didn't go into detail about what the new bill would contain, but did say that he does not plan on making LGBT individuals a protected legal class.

"Despite the irresponsible headlines that have appeared in the national media, this law is not about discrimination," he said. "If it was, I would have vetoed it."

Nathan Chute / Reuters

The legislation, which Pence signed into law on Thursday, has caused a firestorm of controversy across the country.

On Saturday, the CEO of Angie's List announced the company has nixed its planned expansion of its headquarters in Indianapolis because of the bill.

Other businesses, such as SalesForce, announced they would be cutting back their activity in the state as well.

Pence told the newspaper that it is clear the bill is having a negative impact on the state's reputation.

"I just can't account for the hostility that's been directed at our state," he said. "I've been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill."

Pence and others have argued that the new law is no more discriminatory than the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects individuals against laws that would "substantially burden" their freedom of religion.

However, critics of the law say that Indiana's bill is much broader because it also applies religious freedom rights to businesses and interactions between private parties.

They say this could give businesses the right to turn away LGBT customers.

This issue has arisen with Christian businesses in multiple states in well-publicized cases over the past few years.

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