Deal Reached to Clarify Indiana's Religious Freedom Law

"Hoosier Hospitality had to be restored," said House Speaker Brian Bosma

Indiana lawmakers on Thursday morning announced changes Gov. Mike Pence had promised were coming to clarify the state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

"What was intended as a message of inclusion was interpreted as exclusion," House Speaker Brian Bosma said of the law at a morning press conference. 

He said the new measure clearly states that discrimination against any class of citizens is not tolerated in the Hoosier state.

The new bill with the updated language can be found here.

Gays and lesbians are not a protected class under Indiana’s civil rights laws, and critics of the law Pence signed last week allege it could provide some businesses the opportunity to refuse providing services or selling goods to some people based on religious grounds.

The Republican governor on Tuesday said he found that claim "offensive," and called upon the state's General Assembly to send him legislation to clarify the law's intent.

The new agreement, first reported by the Indianapolis Star, comes as the clock ticks toward legislators' Easter recess, which begins Friday, and the weekend's NCAA basketball games.

"For the first time ever the words sexual identity and gender identity will appear in Indiana statute," said former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson.

Bosma, Pence, Senate President Pro Tem David Long, other legislative leaders and business executives have met behind closed doors for hours working on an agreement on how to clarify the law.

"Hoosier Hospitality had to be restored," said Bosma.

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