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Foes step up action in religious freedom bill debate

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The coalition that led last year’s campaign against adding a gay marriage ban to Indiana’s constitution is stepping up its opposition to a proposal that supporters say would allow those with religious objections to refuse services for same-sex weddings.

Freedom Indiana argues the bill could override civil rights ordinances in several cities that include protections for gays. The group is planning a Statehouse rally ahead of an Indiana House committee hearing on the bill Monday morning.

The Republican-backed bill cleared the state Senate last month and is among similar measures introduced in at least a dozen states that critics say could provide legal cover for discrimination against gays and transgender people.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tim Wesco of Osceola says it’s aimed at protecting religious activities from government intrusion.