Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) made the right choice in signing a controversial religious freedom bill into law.
Bush, who’s shown strong interest in running for president, was asked about Pence’s move during an interview with Hugh Hewitt on Monday night.
“I think Governor Pence has done the right thing. Florida has a law like this. Bill Clinton signed a law like this at the federal level,” Bush said. “This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs, to have, to be able to be people of conscience. I just think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”
Bush has offered somewhat conflicting statements on gay marriage in the past. In January, he said that the question of gay marriage should be left up to the states. But a recent story in The New York Times about a trove of emails from his time as governor included correspondence between a gay Floridian looking to work for Bush. The Floridian asked if him being gay would be a problem and Bush responded “don’t ask, don’t tell is fine with me.”
Bush also supported a federal constitutional amendment defining gay marriage as between a man and a woman.
The day he signed the law, Pence was pressed by a conservative radio host about recent examples justifying the law. The Indiana governor couldn’t come up with any. However, Bush did.
“But there are incidents of people who, for example, the florist in Washington State who had a business that based on her conscience, she couldn’t be participating in a gay wedding, organizing it, even though the person, one of the people was a friend of hers,” Bush said. “And she was taken to court, and is still in court, or the photographer in New Mexico. There are many cases where people acting on their conscience have been castigated by the government.”
In the interview Bush also said that the the law is “important.”
“And this law simply says the government has to have a level of burden to be able to establish that there’s been some kind of discrimination. We’re going to need this,” Bush added. “This is really an important value for our country to, in a diverse country, where you can respect and be tolerant of people’s lifestyles, but allow for people of faith to be able to exercise theirs.”