Mike Pence backs religious freedom in LGBT civil rights protections debate

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he will prioritize religious freedom in the debate over civil rights protections for gay and transgender people, showing no retreat from his stance during last spring’s national uproar over the state’s religious objections law.

The Republican governor said in his State of the State speech before legislators that no one should be mistreated because of “who they love or what they believe.” But he also said that “no one should ever fear persecution because of their deeply held religious beliefs.”

The religious objections law Pence signed in March prohibits other state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. It led to a storm of protests, with critics calling for boycotts of the state because they believed the law would sanction discrimination against gays.

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