Pence pointed out that the state's constitution already declares that "all people are created equal" and stated his own personal belief that "no one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe." But he added, "Hoosiers also cherish faith and freedom to live out their faith in their daily lives." He reminded lawmakers that the state's constitution also protects the right to worship "according to the dictates of [our] own consciences" and prohibits laws that "control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions" or "interfere with the rights of conscience."
Pence encouraged lawmakers to work out a solution acceptable to those advocating an expanded civil rights law and those arguing for the protection of religious freedoms without offering a specific proposal. He warned lawmakers that he would not support "any bill that diminishes the religious freedom of Hoosiers or that interferes with the constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work."
Freedom Indiana released the following statement of disapproval following Gov. Pence's address tonight:
"This is a complete letdown. In his speech tonight, after 10 months of allegedly listening to Hoosiers, Governor Pence chose to punt the critical issue of civil rights protections for gay and transgender people to Indiana lawmakers. We are disappointed in his lack of leadership on an update that we know a majority of people in our state support.
"But it also means we have our work cut out for us: We must redouble our efforts so that lawmakers craft a good bill to send to the Governor that makes it clear that gay and transgender people should not be fired, denied housing or turned away from public spaces because of who they are or whom they love.
"We've worked hard before, and we'll do it again. We've shown up before, and we'll do it again. Protecting everyone in our state should not be this difficult, but we will make sure lawmakers and the Governor understand that doing nothing is not an option -- and creating another RFRA situation would be even worse."