By Eric Bradner
WASHINGTON (CNN – March 30, 2015) — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Ben Carson are rushing to defend Indiana’s “religious freedom” law, standing with social conservatives on a measure that opponents have said opens the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, meanwhile, is backing the “principle” of the measure.
The likely Republican contenders for their party’s 2016 presidential nomination supported the law the day after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence struggled to explain it in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Gov. Pence has done the right thing,” Bush, the former Florida governor, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday evening.
“This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs — to be able to be people of conscience,” Bush said. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”
Rubio, meanwhile, backed Indiana’s law during an appearance on Fox News.
“Nobody is saying that it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation. I think that’s a consensus view in America,” Rubio said on Fox News Monday. “The flip side is, should a photographer be punished for refusing to do a wedding that their faith teaches them is not one that is valid in the eyes of God?”
He also rejected a comparison between same-sex marriage and interracial marriage.
“That’s not the same thing,” he said. “Because here you’re talking about the definition of an institution, not the value of a single human being. That’s the difference between the civil rights movement and the marriage equality movement.”
Rubio added: “I think people have the right to live out their religious faith in their own lives. They can’t impose it on you in your life. But they have a right to live it out in their own lives. And when you’re asking someone who provides professional services to do something, or be punished by law, that violates their faith, you’re violating that religious liberty that they have.”
Jindal, the Louisiana governor, told Breitbart News in an email Monday that he, too, supports Indiana’s law.
“I support the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act because I support religious liberty as granted to us in our Constitution,” Jindal reportedly said.
He also pointed to the federal version of the law, adopted by President Bill Clinton before the issue of same-sex marriage had gained traction.
“The great irony is that in the minds of today’s liberals the only bigotry to be tolerated is their own bigotry against religious beliefs,” Jindal said.
Breitbart News also reported that Carson, a neurosurgeon, supported Indiana’s law in an interview.
“It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to allow Americans to practice their religious ways, while simultaneously ensuring that no one’s beliefs infringe upon those of others. We should also serve as champions of freedom of religion throughout the world,” Carson said.
Santorum, meanwhile, tweeted Monday evening that he stands with Pence “in defense of religious liberty and real tolerance.”
Walker hasn’t weighed in directly on the Indiana law, but a spokeswoman for his political action committee, Our American Revival, said he supports religious freedom rights.
“As a matter of principle, Gov. Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience,” said spokeswoman AshLee Strong.