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White House: Obama Finds Religious Freedom Laws 'Unthinkable

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures while speaking at the portrait unveiling ceremony for outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department in Washington, DC on February 27, 2015. The event marks Holder's anticipated departure after more than six years of service. (AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS)

President Barack Obama finds Indiana's religious freedom law and others like it "unthinkable," the White House said Wednesday.

“I do think in the mind of the president, the thought that we would have state legislatures in the 21st century in the United States of America passing laws that would use religion to try to justify discriminating against people for who they love is unthinkable,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House December 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images) Getty Images

Critics say Indiana's law now allows for businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Amid the furor, Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, called Tuesday for a clarifying amendment to the law.

On Wednesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, also a Republican, told his state’s legislature to go back to work on the bill that could allow businesses not to provide services for same-sex weddings that they oppose on religious grounds. 

In response to a reporter’s question, Earnest said he has not specifically asked Obama if it’s possible to allow a private businesses not perform certain services for gay couples without it being discrimination.

“That’s why I think you’ve seen an outcry not just from Democrats, this has not been a partisan or political dispute,” Earnest said. “It’s business interests. It’s other Republicans. It’s other leaders in the faith community who stepped forward – particularly in the case of Indiana – who said this law is a terrible idea.”

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