In State of State speech, Pence says he supports religious liber - WDRB 41 Louisville News

In State of State speech, Pence says he supports religious liberty over LGBT protections

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Indiana Governor Mike Pence held his annual State of the State address tonight.

He said he won't support adding state civil rights protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity if he believes that step would diminish religious freedoms. Pence said Indiana is a welcoming and open state that respects everybody but he also believes religious freedoms should be protected.

"I will not support any bill that diminishes the religious freedoms of Hoosiers or interferes with the constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work," Pence said.  

Pence also called for spending a billion dollars to improve the state's roads and bridges, stiffer penalties to punish drug dealers and major improvements to the state administered I-STEP exam. 

Pence's likely re-election challenger says his State of the State speech shows a lack of leadership.

Democrat John Gregg says in a statement that Pence's refusal to support extending state civil rights protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity is "unconscionable."

Gregg says the religious objections law that Pence signed last year continues to damage Indiana's economy and reputation.

LGBT rights have become a major debate following the national uproar last spring over the state's religious objections law that critics argued sanctioned discrimination against gay people.

Copyright 2016 Associated Press/WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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