Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a religious freedom bill that could allow businesses and individuals to deny services to gays on religious grounds.
Supporters of the bill, which was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Republican-controlled state legislature, say it will keep the government from forcing business owners to act in ways contrary to strongly held religious beliefs. Opponents say it is discriminatory.
“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” said Pence, in a statement after signing the bill.
Legal experts say the Religious Freedom Restoration Act sets a standard that will allow people of all faiths to bring religious freedom claims.
Gay rights groups worry it will be used by businesses that do not want to provide services for gay weddings, although those cases would probably end up being fought out in court. Gay marriage became legal in Indiana last year following an appeals court ruling.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Lisa Lambert)