Thousands rally against religious freedom law

Religious Freedom Restoration Act Rally.
The bill allows business owners to refuse service to anyone based on the owner's religious beliefs, and many feel it could lead to discrimination. (WISH photo/Howard Monroe)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) –  A  massive rally was held Saturday at the statehouse against Indiana’s new Religious Freedom law.

PHOTOS | Images from the rally

Gov. Mike Pence signed it on March 26.  Some say it could lead to discrimination, particularly against those in the LGBT community.

The bill allows business owners to refuse service to anyone based on the owner’s religious beliefs, and many feel it could lead to discrimination.

“It just opens the door for people to be able to make decisions based on their religious beliefs that could violate the rights of other people,” said Erin Vaughn, from West Lafayette.

After signing the bill, Pence denied the discrimination claims.

“If I thought this bill legalized discrimination, I would’ve vetoed it,” said Governor Pence.

Those at the rally said the law reflects poorly on the state.

“We feel that the legislation that has been passed is very harmful to our state in terms of our reputation and we feel that people regardless of their sexual orientation should be treated equally,” said Heidi Jensen of Muncie.

And while the law reaffirms the religious freedoms of people when dealing with businesses and the government, some say it goes against their religious principles.

“What Jesus tried to do was teach (us) to love one another,” said Monica Oclander of Indianapolis. “This law does the opposite. It pits one person against (one) another for no good reason. For no good reason.”

A federal religious freedom act was signed into law in 1993 by President Clinton. Nineteen other states have similar laws. The difference here in Indiana is that many of those states, as well as the federal government include sexual orientation as a protected legal class. Indiana code does not.  Many say because of that difference this law could lead to discrimination of those people.

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