Correction: Religious Objections-News Guide story

AP News
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Posted: Apr 01, 2015 11:31 AM
Correction: Religious Objections-News Guide story

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — In a story March 31 about a new religious objections law in Indiana, The Associated Press misspelled the Connecticut governor's first name. He is Dannel Malloy, not Daniel.

A corrected version of the story is below:

A look at widely criticized Indiana law on religious freedom

A look at Indiana law that critics say could permit discrimination against gays and lesbians

By JENI O'MALLEY

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence urged lawmakers Tuesday to send a bill to his desk by the end of the week to clarify the intent of a new law that critics fear could permit discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Pence's move to quell a backlash over the law comes as Arkansas lawmakers defied criticism to pass similar legislation. A look at the latest developments:

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WHAT THE LAWS SAY

The Indiana law, which takes effect July 1, does not specifically mention gays and lesbians, but opponents say it is designed to protect businesses and individuals who do not want to serve gays and lesbians, such as florists or caterers who might be hired for a same-sex wedding.

The law prohibits state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least restrictive means of achieving it. The definition of "person" includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

Critics say that language is broader than a 1993 federal law signed by then-President Bill Clinton that Pence says it's based on.

Twenty states now have similar laws in place.

Indiana University law professor Deborah Widiss says such laws across the country have not "been a sort of blank check to discriminate."

Widiss says the proposals are fueled by rulings legalizing gay marriage and by last year's Supreme Court interpretation of the federal law in a case involving retailer Hobby Lobby. The court ruled the retailer and other closely held private businesses with religious objections could opt out of providing the free contraceptive coverage required by President Barack Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

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CHANGES COMING

Pence said Tuesday he stands by the law but acknowledged that Indiana has a "perception problem." He said he has been meeting with lawmakers and business leaders "around the clock" to address concerns that the Indiana bill would allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The governor called for legislation addressing those issues by the end of the week, and Republican leaders said they were working on language.

Arkansas lawmakers said they would not modify their state's measure despite opponents' calls to do so.

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REACTIONS POUR IN

NASCAR issued a statement Tuesday saying it was "disappointed" by the legislation, becoming the latest organization or business to speak out against it. The NCAA, which has had its headquarters in Indianapolis since 1999, says it is concerned about the law's effect on future Indiana events.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced a ban on non-essential state-funded travel to Indiana because of the law. Connecticut made a similar move a day earlier.

Many Indiana businesses are trying to counter the negative attention by posting signs or stickers saying they serve everyone. But the state has already lost a union conference planned for October worth an estimated $500,000, and other businesses say they are curbing travel to the state.

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POLITICIANS WEIGH IN

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates have jumped to the defense of Pence and Indiana's law. Bush said the law was "simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs" and compared the measure to one in Florida.

Several high-profile Democrats, including possible presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, have been critical of the measure. O'Malley said it's "shameful" for Republicans to support the law.

While Pence insisted that he abhors discrimination, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut called him a "bigot" during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday. Malloy cited a photograph showing Pence signing the bill with several gay-rights opponents in attendance, including one who had likened being gay to bestiality.

"That's who he invited to the signing ceremony. He knew exactly what he was doing. And when you see a bigot, you have to call him on it," Malloy said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Indiana law is "a much more open-ended piece of legislation" than the 1993 federal law and "flies in the face of the kinds of values that people all across the country strongly support."

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Associated Press writers Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Tom Davies in Indianapolis contributed to this report.