Indiana Gov. Mike Pence called a press conference to tell the world that everyone has got his “religious freedom” law wrong, he once went to Selma with John Lewis, and that he is not a bigot. The more Pence talked, the worse things got for him.
Clip of the opening of the press conference:
Pence never said that law the was wrong. He stuck to his false claims that the law is just like the one that Bill Clinton signed in 1993 and that people are misunderstanding his religious freedom law.
Gov. Pence said that there is a perception problem, “I don’t believe for a minute that it was the intent of the Assembly to create a license to discriminate or a right to deny services to gays, lesbians, or anyone else in this state, and it certainly wasn’t my intent. But I can appreciate that that’s become the perception, not just here in Indiana, but all across this country. And we need to confront that, and confront it boldly, in a way that respects the interests of all involved.”
Pence doesn’t have a perception problem. He has a law that has legalized discrimination.
Gov.Pence later claimed that the law and the people of Indiana have been smeared, “I am calling on the General Assembly to that focuses on the issue here. That focuses on frankly the smear that has been leveled against this law and the people of Indiana. That is that somehow through our legislative process we enacted legislation that created a license to discriminate.”
Only in the Republican mind can the facts become a smear. Pence was focused on perception, which means that it is fine if Indiana passes a law that does discriminate, but it is wrong to be perceived as discriminating. Pence managed to build on his disastrous appearance on ABC’s This Week, by implicitly admitting that he still supports laws that discriminate under the guise of religious freedom. He is trying to fix the language so that it doesn’t appear that the state supports discrimination.
By adding some new language about not overtly denying services, Gov. Pence is hoping to make the problem go away. The overall issue is that his religious freedom bill will still allow discrimination.
Pence can’t defend the bill, so he attacked the media and told personal stories that were intended to assure everyone watching that he isn’t a bigot. This was a horrible press conference where Pence doubled down on the same sort of remarks that got him into trouble in the first place. The only way to fix the bill is to repeal it, but that is something that Gov. Pence will not do.
Indiana has been permanently stained in the eyes of the nation, because of one ambitious governor’s attempt to legalize discrimination. While standing at the podium and breathing like an asthmatic Darth Vader, Pence claimed that he never anticipated the public backlash over a law legalizing discrimination. For this reason alone, the Hoosier State deserves better than Mike Pence.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association