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Demonstrators gather to protest a controversial religious freedom bill in Indianapolis

Demonstrators gather at Monument Circle to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence during a rally in Indianapolis March 28, 2015. More than 2,000 people gathered at the Indiana State Capital Saturday to protest Indiana�s newly signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act saying it would promote discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation. REUTERS/Nate Chute

Indiana's religious freedom bill controversy

Indiana lawmakers announced proposed changes Thursday to the state's new religious objections law aimed at quelling widespread criticism from businesses and other groups that have called the proposal anti-gay.

The revisions, which still require approval from the full Legislature and Republican Gov. Mike Pence, come as lawmakers in Arkansas scramble to revise that state's own religious objections legislation amid cries that it could permit discrimination.

The Indiana amendment prohibits service providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations. It also bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or U.S. military service.

The measure exempts churches and affiliated schools, along with nonprofit religious organizations.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said the agreement sends a "very strong statement" that the state will not tolerate discrimination.

The law "cannot be used to discriminate against anyone," he said.


Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long said they have the votes needed to pass the amendment and send it to Pence. A spokeswoman for the governor said he would not comment until the revised bill arrives on his desk. (AP)

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