Indiana Gov. Mike Pence approved an overhaul of the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday.
The week-old law sparked outcry with claims that it discriminated against the LBGT community. Now for the first time in the state’s history, it has enacted protections based on sexual orientation.
Pence had asked lawmakers to clarify language in the law earlier this week as businesses and sports associations canceled conventions and governments banned travel to the state, according to the Associated Press.
“Star Trek” alum George Takei called on his fans to stage a boycott of Indiana, while Isaiah Washington, Miley Cyrus, Dustin Lance Black,
The state’s house and senate approved the changes Thursday after intense negotiations with business and community leaders. Despite last-minute lobbying from conservative groups like Indiana Right to Life to get Pence to veto the fix. The governor signed it Thursday evening, reported CNN.
“In the midst of this furious debate, I have prayed earnestly for wisdom and compassion, and I have felt the prayers of people across this state and across this nation. For that I will be forever grateful,” Pence said in a statement.
“There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first and ask myself every day, ‘What is best for Indiana?'” he said. “I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana.”
The revised legislation — which will take effect July 1 — prohibits providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations.
It also bars discrimination based on factors that include race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or United States military service.
However, it doesn’t accomplish what the law’s critics wanted most, which was the addition of sexual orientation to the list of categories protected by Indiana’s anti-discrimination law.