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Gov. Mike Pence signs 'religious freedom' bill in private

The nation's latest legislative battle over religious freedom and gay rights came to a close Thursday when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a controversial "religious freedom" bill into law.

His action followed two days of intense pressure from opponents — including technology company executives and convention organizers — who fear the measure could allow discrimination, particularly against gays and lesbians.

Pence and leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly called those concerns a "misunderstanding."

"This bill is not about discrimination," Pence said, "and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it."

Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person's ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it. It takes effect July 1.

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