Pence calls for clarification to Religious Freedom Restoration A - News, Weather & Sports

Pence calls for clarification to Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Gov. Mike Pence (Source: WAVE 3 News) Gov. Mike Pence (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Laura Buckingham (Source: WAVE 3 News) Laura Buckingham (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - At Bread & Breakfast, Laura Buckingham's bakery and restaurant and W. Main and Bank Streets, the dough and fame have risen quickly.

“We have a lot of local regulars, but a lot of tourists seek places where locals hang out,” Buckingham said.

But she wonders whether the furor over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) could change that.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Indiana governor wants changes to religious-objections law] 

“Politically, I'm not involved and I don't know that a lot of us really are,” she said. “It's just unfortunate that we have to take a bite because of it.”

“What we need is an Indiana Reputation Restoration Act,” Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) said during a news conference in the state capitol Tuesday.

Lanane and his house counterpart, Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City,) claim a continual defense of the controversial measure he signed last week is proof that Gov. Mike Pence “doesn't get it.”

[PREVIOUS STORY: Businesses show they are ‘Open For Service' in response to Religious Freedom Restoration Act]

“The most clear, decisive and understandable thing we can do is to repeal the statute and repeal it promptly,” Pelath said.

“Was I expecting this kind of backlash,” Pence had answered only hours earlier. “Heaven's no.”

Pence blamed gross mischaracterization and reckless reporting for the outcry that resulted after putting his signature to the bill last week.

[VIEW: Indiana Senate Bill No. 101 - Religious Freedom Restoration]

“It's about protecting against government over-reach, not legalizing discrimination,” Pence told reporters in Indianapolis Tuesday. “Government would have to show an over-riding, compelling interest why it should infringe on individual beliefs.”

“It was that important, and I'm pleased to have signed it,” the Governor said. “And I stand by the law.”

Pence maintains that the law will offer Hoosiers the same protections as a federal measure that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993.

“The same kind of law Barack Obama signed when he as a (Illinois State) Senator,” he said.

Nevertheless, Pence called upon Indiana lawmakers to pass explanatory legislation to accompany Indiana's RFRA takes effect July 1.

“I believe this is a clarification but it's also a fix,” he said. “It would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone.”

The Clark and Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau hasn't received a phone call from any client expressing concerns, according to executive director Jim Epperson.

“Nobody's canceled anything,” Epperson said. “But our industry members will be talking about it when we meet Wednesday.”

“It's important we send strong message,” Pence said. “So that everybody around the nation and around the world knows that Indiana is a welcoming place to everybody.”

Buckingham wants that posted in Bread & Breakfast's front window.

“This shouldn't change how we do things,” Buckingham said. “We have African-Americans, gays, anybody works here. We don‘t care. We're a family.”

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