Mayor Ballard, Indiana lawmakers respond to backlash of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 30, 2015) - Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and state lawmakers from both parties responded Monday to the backlash over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed last week.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate president Pro Tempore David Long said they are working on a way to clarify the intent of the law. The two Republican leaders addressed the media Monday and said they were surprised by the national attention the law has garnered. "We've never seen this when this law has been passed anywhere else," said Long.

Bosma and Long also spoke about how they will clear up misconceptions surrounding the bill. They said they will insert into the law legal language that the bill won't be used to discriminate. "If we need to put an exclamation point in this law to clarify that this will not allow for discrimination, we'll do that," said Bosma.

They also said even without this clarification, the law still does not allow for discrimination.

“I don’t believe you can discriminate against anyone, based on their sexual preference or any reason whatsoever,” said Long .

Behind closed doors, lawmakers have been fiercely debating the best way to ‘clarify’ the controversial law.

Legislators took part in lengthy private caucus meetings Monday at the statehouse. One lawmaker told FOX59 there's been ‘a real debate raging over what to do.’

Not surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats have different ideas when it comes to changing or clarifying the law, with Democrats calling for a full repeal.

"When you have a bill this corrupted, there’s no fix to it. You just have to get rid of it,” said Senate minority leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

Late Monday, Sen. Long said that was very unlikely, though one Republican lawmaker, who wished to remain anonymous, told FOX59 that he supported a full repeal.

“Repealing the bill is not going to happen,” said Long. “If you’re talking about adding certain rights that’s a big step as well. What we’re trying to do is clarify this bill does not discriminate against anyone, was never intended to do so and won’t be allowed to do so in the future.”

Meantime, Speaker Bosma spent part of the day meeting with business and community leaders to try and come up with a solution, according to a spokesperson.

Business owners, celebrities and politicians have chimed in regarding their opinions on the law. Indianapolis-based Angie's List expressed hesitation to partner with the state in future project due to the newly signed legislation.

“Everyone at this point in time needs to set aside the politics and listen to the people. This bill does not represent the people of Indiana," said Lanane.

Mayor Ballard also held a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the city’s response to RFRA.  He mayor called for Governor Pence and the Indiana legislator to fix the law, and add legal protections for gays and lesbians.

“Forty years of history as one of the most hospitable places in America should not be placed in jeopardy because of this act," said Mayor Ballard.

Ballard also wanted to make clear that those traveling to the Final Four know that they do not have to worry about discrimination. “For those traveling here for the Final Four, let me be clear: Indy welcomes all. These teams have worked hard to get here and we will give them the same Indianapolis experience the world has come to expect.”

More on the religious freedom bill here.


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