While Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has been the target of widespread criticism, he has garnered support from not only prospective Republican presidential candidates, but the first official entrant in the race, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
According to ABC News, the Tea Party favorite released a statement commending Pence for signing Senate Bill 101 — the so-called “religious freedom” bill — into law last week.
“Today we are facing a concerted assault on the First Amendment, on the right of every American to seek out and worship God according to the dictates of his or her conscience. Governor Pence is holding the line to protect religious liberty in the Hoosier State,” Cruz said. “Indiana is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives across this country who are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks upon our personal liberties. I’m proud to stand with Mike, and I urge Americans to do the same.”
McClatchy Newspapers reported that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) also endorsed Pence in an interview on Monday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
“This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs, to be able to be people of conscience,” he said. Bush also compared the Indiana law to both the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and a similar law in Florida. However, Fox News’ Bret Baier pointed out earlier in the day that the Indiana law is broader in nature than either of those laws.
CNN reported that the majority of the rest of the possible GOP primary contenders — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Rep. Rick Santorum and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson — all joined in on defending the bill, which has been met with outrage in several other quarters.
Rubio, in particular, rejected the comparison between same-sex marriages and interracial marriages in a Fox News appearance Monday evening.
“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 argued. “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.”
“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,” he told Breitbart News. “We should also serve as champions of freedom of religion throughout the world.”
So far, none of the prospective presidential candidates has commented on Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard — a fellow Republican — openly defying the law on Monday by signing an executive order requiring local businesses to follow the city’s non-discrimination statute.
“Discrimination is wrong,” Ballard said. “And I hope that message is being heard loud and clear at our Statehouse.”