Trump Announces Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Who Backed Down on Religious Freedom Act, as Running Mate

PenceRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump has announced that he has selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, and is set to formally introduce Pence during a news conference on Saturday.

“I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my vice presidential running mate,” Trump posted to social media on Friday morning.

On Thursday night, Trump told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren that he hadn’t yet decided for sure who he would select after she noted that reports revealed Pence had been chosen.

“I haven’t made my final, final decision,” he stated. “I mean, I’ve got three people [in mind] that are fantastic. I think Newt (Gingrich) is a fantastic person. I think Chris Christie is a fantastic person. [He’s] been a friend of mine for 15 years; just a fantastic person. And there’s Mike, and Mike has done a great job as governor of Indiana. You look at the numbers, and it’s been great—he’s done really a fantastic job. But I haven’t made a final, final decision.”

He advised soon after at a fundraiser that same evening that he was “ready to announce,” according to an event attendee. Trump has postponed his formal press conference due to the terror attack in France.

Pence is known for being at the center of controversy last year when he signed into law the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill was meant to mirror the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law in the 1990’s by then-President Bill Clinton.

However, homosexual activists and advocates soon rose up against Pence, asserting that the bill made provision for Christians and others to discriminate against homosexuals.

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While Pence said that the bill had been “grossly misconstrued” by homosexual activists and the media and made to be an issue about homosexuality rather than a response to the Hobby Lobby contraceptive decision, he said that the “mischaracterization” now “might make it necessary … to clarify the law through legislation.”

Therefore, lawmakers proposed a clarification to the bill that banned business owners from declining to fulfill orders for homosexual ceremonies, which Pence promptly signed. His signature disappointed evangelicals, especially since Pence professes to be a Christian.

“Christian bakers, florists and photographers … no longer have the benefit of Indiana law to help protect them from being forced by the government to participate in a homosexual wedding,” lamented Eric Miller, founder and executive director of Advance America.

“It gives the government a new weapon against individual citizens who are merely exercising freedoms that Americans were guaranteed from the founding of this country,” said Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner. “Surrendering to deception and economic blackmail never results in good policy.”

“If a Christian vendor can be forced to collaborate with an unmitigated evil, like assisting with a homosexual marriage, then the law and religious freedom has no meaning,” Red State commented. “In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court acknowledged that even a closely held corporation cannot be compelled to violate its religious beliefs. Why private citizens should not have the same rights, and be able to enforce those rights when harassed and bullied … is a mystery.”

Pence, who grew up Roman Catholic and now identifies as evangelical, has been considered to have a pro-life record, recently signing into law a bill that bans aborting children with disabilities, but allows abortions for other reasons.

In December, Pence posted to social media that he disagreed with Trump’s plan to place a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants.

“Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional,” he wrote.

However, Pence shrugged off his differences with Trump on Tuesday, remarking that he doesn’t align perfectly with any politician.

“Look, I served in Congress for 12 years. I’ve been a governor for three and a half years. I haven’t agreed with every one of my Republican colleagues or Democrat colleagues on every issue,” he told reporters. “But I’m supporting Donald Trump because we need change in this country, and I believe he represents the kind of strong leadership at home and abroad that will, to borrow a phrase, make America great again.”

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