Indiana Governor signs controversial religious freedom bill

Gabby Glinski, News Photographer and Writer

On April 2, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the controversial religious freedom bill into a law. The bill and signing of the law sparked controversy across the country.

The law prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion. The law will take effect July 1.

The law was meant to protect religious freedom, which Pence claimed “our first freedom.”

Although the bill does not mention sexual orientation, opponents fear it could allow business owners to deny services to LGBTQA individuals for religious reasons.

In efforts to fix the confusion made by the signed bill, Pence clarified to Indianapolis reporters, “We’ll fix this, and we’ll move forward. I believe in my heart of hearts that no one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love or what they believe.”

However, Pence declined to support legislation explicitly banning discrimination against LGBTQA individuals in Indiana. “It’s not on my agenda,” said the Governor.

Among the opponents stand many celebrities. Novelist John Green, Colts punter Pat McAfee, television personality Montel Williams, and Star Trek actor George Takei all expressed opposition to the recently passed law.

“It’s all just bulls–t, I think that sums it up pretty well.” stated Wilkes student Eliza Neidlinger, junior psychology major, expressing her opinion on the Indiana law.

“While sometimes we feel discouraged by local setbacks, I strongly believe that the struggle for equal rights will eventually prevail,” stated Dr. Andrea Maierean, Wilkes political science professor, remaining positive in the outcome of the law. “The progress is however incremental and patience is needed. Laws like the one passed in Indiana might delay the result, but they will hopefully not negatively affect the outcome.”

Pence signed the bill during a private ceremony. He was in the company of Franciscan monks and nuns, orthodox Jews, and some of Indiana’s most powerful lobbyists on conservative social issues. The event was closed to the public and the press. The law makes Indiana the 20th state to adopt this kind of legislation.