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Hammond Mayor: Pence Should Resign Over 'Religious Freedom' Law

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In the wake of Indiana's controversial new "religious freedom" law, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence should resign for the good of the state.

"I'm embarrassed that this guy's our governor, and I'm embarrassed that they [Republicans] don't even talk to the minority party when they're trying to pass bills," McDermott said. "They don't talk to Democrats, they don't care what Democrats have to say. They stepped in it this time."

Critics have said the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act could provide businesses legal protection for denying service to patrons, based on the owners' religious beliefs. For example, a florist or caterer could freely deny their services to a gay couple planning a wedding, critics have said.

McDermott said any CEO who embarrasses his company like Pence has embarrassed Indiana would resign.

"I'm not embarrassed to be a Hoosier. Hoosiers are great people. They're tolerant people. They're smart people. They're caring and compassionate people. This is not what we Hoosiers are, and Governor Pence knows that," McDermott said.


He said he's not surprised by how the law was approved, because he's used to Republican lawmakers doing whatever they want.

"This doesn't surprise me a bit, because as a Democrat from northwest Indiana, I have to work with the Republican supermajority all the time, and they're used to not debating issues. They don't need to debate, because they have the numbers," he said. "The fact of the matter is, just because we're the minority party doesn't mean that we don't have good points, and they completely ignore the minority party, and they just muscle everything through just because they have the numbers."
McDermott said he has commitments from nationally known bands for a summer music festival, but they're now not interested because of the passage of RFRA.

Pence has said the law is not about discrimination, but rather would allow Indiana residents to practice their faith without government interference. He was scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday morning to "discuss and clarify" the law.

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