Indiana Governor Says He 'Will Not Support Legislation That Diminishes Religious Freedom'
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Yet again Gov. Mike Pence is at the center of a growing political predicament entirely of his own making.
Speaking at a town hall on Thursday in Kokomo, the Indiana Republican governor was unable to directly answer a simple question about LGBT protections – and took 13 seconds to come up with a non-answer that devolved into a defense of religious liberty.
"In a simple yes or no answer, do you believe that gay and transgender people should be able to be fired from their jobs just for that reason?," an unidentified questioner asks Pence in this video:
Pence's difficulty with the question is immediately evident in the video, and the applause the question itself received makes it all the more difficult for Pence to answer.
This is what he offered in response.
"It's a great privilege for me to be your governor," Pence begins, after an uncomfortable pause. "I don't think anyone should ever be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. My position as I expressed in my State of the State Address, and did again today, is we are a state with a constitution."
"And as you know, as a pastor, that constitution has very strong safeguards for the freedom of conscience and freedom of religion of Hoosiers," Pence continues. It's unclear if the person asking the question is known to Pence.
"And my strong conviction is that, should the General Assembly put legislation on my desk, which they considered this year, and should I continue to be governor and they ever do in the future, it just must be consistent with the constitution. But I will not support legislation that diminishes religious freedom. I hope you hear my heart a little bit as much as my head on this, because it really is a great privilege to serve you. I thank you for the question."
Freedom Indiana immediately turned the clip into a political ad:
A local Indiana Fox affiliate reports they asked Pence's press secretary Kara Brooks "to clarify his position," and received a rehash of Pence's remarks in the video.
In their article, they add, "FOX28 attempted again to get a yes or no answer to the following question: Would it be accurate to say Governor Pence believes it should be illegal in Indiana to fire someone for being gay or transgender?' We are still waiting for a response from the governor's office."