The purpose of the bill is to forbid the state from forcing people to provide services that violate their religious beliefs. Similar laws recently have been floated in other US states, as gay marriage increasingly has been legalised across the country.
The Indiana House of Representatives on Monday approved the bill by a 63-31 vote, after the state Senate approved a similar bill last month. Dennis Kruse, a senator who authored the bill, said his chamber will concur with the House version.
After passage in the two legislative chambers, the bill heads to the governor’s desk for a signature. Mr Pence indicated this week that he would sign the bill.
America's largest gaming convention, Gen Con, threatens to leave Indiana over anti-gay bill http://t.co/btoziokdTUhyphen; Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) March 25, 2015
If it becomes law, the bill would prevent state and local governments from “substantially burdening” a person’s freedom of religion unless the government can come up with a compelling reason to do so.
Those who back the bill say it is a way to keep the government out of the religious beliefs of people and business owners. The opposition has seen it differently.
“The legislation is so broadly written that there may be unforeseen and harmful consequences to our state,” wrote the Indiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Moreover, the bills create a widespread and negative perception of Indiana by appearing to invite the use of religion to discriminate, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The ALCU said that in other states that have similar legislations it has seen pharmacists refuse to sell contraception and a school guidance counsellor refuse to help gay students, both because of religious beliefs.
Calls to Senator Kruse were not returned in time for this story.
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