Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) weighed in on one of the week’s most hot button political controversies with a statement issued late Monday evening expressing support for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) and the state’s proposed “religious freedom” law.
Critics have said Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed by Pence last week, would allow discrimination against lesbians and gays. Its supporters, including Pence, have denied this and said it simply promotes religious freedom.
In his statement, Cruz, who launched his 2016 presidential campaign last Monday, described the law as an effort to support “religious liberty.”
“I want to commend Governor Mike Pence for his support of religious freedom, especially in the face of fierce opposition. There was a time, not too long ago, when defending religious liberty enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Alas, today we are facing a concerted assault on the First Amendment, on the right of every American to seek out and worship God according to the dictates of his or her conscience,” Cruz said. “Governor Pence is holding the line to protect religious liberty in the Hoosier State. Indiana is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives across this country who are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks upon our personal liberties. I’m proud to stand with Mike, and I urge Americans to do the same.”
Since he officially launched his White House bid last week, Cruz has made it clear he hopes to appeal to grassroots conservatives and the religious right. Pence has said he’s also considering running for president.
Legal experts have been divided on the impact of the law, which will take effect July 1. Many supporters say it was simply designed to make it more difficult for the government to interfere with peoples’ religious practices. Some opponents argue it would allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to deny housing, employment, or services to gays and lesbians.
The law has led to widespread backlash from business leaders, politicians, and even celebrities.
Last Saturday, Pence told the Indianapolis Star newspaper that he would try to find “a way to clarify the intent of the law” to make clear that it does not promote discrimination. However, in an interview with ABC the following day, he declined to address whether the law would allow anti-gay discrimination. On Monday, the Republican leaders of the Legislature said they would find a fix to “clarify” the law and make clear it is not discriminatory.
As of this writing, Cruz’s campaign has not responded to an email asking whether he supports the law being clarified.
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