Ind. Gov. Pence's Approval Deeply Damaged by 'Religious Freedom' Law

by EDGE

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday April 14, 2015

As the recently tarnished reputation of Indiana slowly starts to heal in the wake of amendments made to the now infamous Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Governor Mike Pence may be seeing some long-term political damage as a result of his signing Indiana's "license to discriminate" law.

Numbers from a recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) show that the once-popular Republican governor, who enjoyed a 66 percent approval rating as recent as January, is now tracking at 38 percent. Moreover, 53 percent of voters said that the RFRA fight gave them a less favorable impression of Pence.

"Elected officials, and governors specifically, who experiment with these anti-LGBT bills that allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people do so at their own peril," said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs. "Hoosiers have said loud and clear not only that they oppose dangerous bills that allow discrimination against LGBT people, but they won't tolerate politicians like Mike Pence who put his state's economy at risk in an attempt to further discrimination."   

If he isn't experiencing it now, Pence may soon be feeling the effects of "signer's remorse" from the unintended consequences of approving the measure. As Salon.com points out, instead of mobilizing his Republican base, his actions divided it - with religious conservatives supporting him and fiscal conservatives against him. The HRC poll shows that 58 percent of respondents who identify as observant Christians do not support discrimination on the basis of religious grounds.

"The national shift in views of gay rights has been lightning fast," Political science professor Amy E. Black of Wheaton College told The Indianapolis Star. "Positions which were mainstream in both parties only a few years ago are quickly becoming marginalized."