ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Crushes Gov. Mike Pence’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Facade

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Crushes Gov. Mike Pence’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Facade

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By asking straightforward and direct questions, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos crushed Gov. Mike Pence’s facade that his legalized discrimination bill is about ‘religious freedom.’

Video:

(Continued Below)

Transcript via ABC’s This Week:

STEPHANOPOULOS: And so yes or no, if a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?

PENCE: George, this is — this is where this debate has gone, with — with misinformation and frankly…

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s just a question, sir. Question, sir.

Yes or no?

PENCE: Well — well, this — there’s been shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and about its intention all over the Internet. People are trying to make it about one particular issue. And now you’re doing that, as well.

The issue here — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been on the books for more than 20 years. It does not apply, George, to disputes between individuals unless government action is involved. And in point of fact, in more than two decades, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never been used to undermine anti-discrimination laws in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, I’m…

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir…

PENCE: Look, the…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — I’m just bringing up a…

PENCE: — the question…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — (INAUDIBLE) from one of your supporters.

PENCE: — I think the real question here…

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was one of our supporters who was talking about the bill right there. It said it would protect a Christian florist who — against any kind of punishment.

Is that true or not?

PENCE: George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two way street or not?

I mean, you know, there’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today having to do with people on the left. And a — but here Indiana steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state and this avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is just outrageous.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor — Governor, I…

PENCE: It’s not based in any…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — I completely…

PENCE: — fact whatsoever.

STEPHANOPOULOS: — I completely agree with you about the good people…

PENCE: And I think people…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — (INAUDIBLE).

PENCE: — are getting tired of it, George. I really do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Perhaps…

PENCE: Tolerance is a two way street.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So when you say tolerance is a two way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that it’s now legal in the state of Indiana?

That’s the simple yes or no question.

PENCE: George, the — the question here is if the — if there is a government action or a law that an individual believes impinges on their religious liberty, they have the opportunity to go to court, just as The Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Bill Clinton signed allowed them, go to court and the court would evaluate the circumstance under the standards articulated in this Act.

After Stephanopoulos grilled Gov. Pence for several minutes, he finally admitted that he would not be changing the law. Later, Pence dodged a question about whether or not he believes in discrimination against gays and lesbians. Stephanopoulos asked for a second time if Pence supported legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians, and Pence basically accused the This Week of being an Internet troll.

The interview was an unmitigated disaster for Pence. Stephanopoulos asked fair and straightforward questions that Pence couldn’t or wouldn’t answer. The backlash against Indiana Republicans for passing a form of legalized discrimination is growing by the hour. There are going to be real economic consequences for the state, because of this bill. Pressure is growing on the NCAA to move the men’s basketball Final Four out of the state in future years.

Gov. Pence was trying to reframe the intent of the law by hiding behind a mistake that Bill Clinton made more than two decades ago. The problem with Republicans is that they don’t want to accept the fact that the country has changed since 1993. Discrimination against gays and lesbians is not acceptable. It is clear that Gov. Pence is using discrimination against gays to enhance his national political standing, but in the process he is harming the reputation of his state.

Gov. Pence doesn’t speak for all of the residents of Indiana. George Stephanopoulos did a great job of pressing the Indiana governor. The religious freedom facade has been exposed. Discrimination is discrimination, and it is clear that the direction Gov. Pence is taking Indiana in won’t be tolerated by the rest of the country.

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