Indiana Democrats attacked Governor Mike Pence’s claims that the recently signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not intended to discriminate against the LGBT community by pointing out — among other things — that those photographed with the governor after he signed the bill have long history of anti-LGBT activism.
“The first thing you have to do when you have a problem is admit you have a problem,” Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane said. “You have to be able to be willing to set aside all the politics. But in the years I’ve been here, I’ve seen it — the radicalism of the right wing has taken over.”
“In this case, that’s what happened. They need to do a reversal, a 180 on this, towards the path of healing the reputation of the state of Indiana.”
A reporter asked if maybe there wasn’t a misunderstanding on the part of the public.
“No,” House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath replied. “As a matter of fact, I would guess that companies like Apple have some very well-remunerated corporate attorneys who have vetted this. But we have to remember, before we even get to all the legalisms, that it’s moved beyond this. It’s about the image of our state.”
“When this bill was signed, right over here in this very office, standing behind the governor was a mish-mash of every kind of anti-marriage-equality lobbyist that exists. If you read what they say [in support of] the bill, it becomes very clear that there is an intent to discriminate.”
Pelath was referring to the fact that in the official photograph of the signing tweeted out by Governor Pence:
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) March 26, 2015
He is standing with a number of people identified by GLAAD as being ardent opponents of LGBT rights, including Curt Smith, who equates homosexuality with bestiality and helped write the bill; Micah Clark, who believes homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured with therapy; and Eric Miller, who recently distributed flyers to churches that claimed pastors could be arrested for preaching against homosexuality.
When asked by an Indianapolis Star reporter who the people he was being photographed were, Pence refused to identify them by name, stating only that they were “religious and faith leaders.”
“Now, whether that was understood by the legislative leaders,” Pelath continued, “I’ll leave that up to them to explain. But those pushing for it [and who are in the photograph] certainly did.”
“And I’ll add,” Sen. Lanane said, that “six times yesterday the governor was asked if this bill endorses discrimination — he didn’t answer that. Just today, he said it was up for the courts to decide. So how can they say that there’s some misconception about this bill when they can’t say clearly that it doesn’t discriminate and they’re afraid to say that.”
Watch Lanane and Pelath’s new conference Pence below on YouTube.