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GOP presidential candidates voice support for controversial Indiana religious freedom law

Jeb Bush and several other likely GOP presidential candidates have spoken out in support of the controversial new religious liberty law in Indiana, disputing how it is being characterized by the left. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Several GOP presidential candidates have emerged firmly in support of the new Indiana religious freedom law, with many Republican White House hopefuls disputing how the new law is being characterized by the left.

The law has sparked protests within the state of Indiana and ignited a national conversation about its intent, LGBT rights and religious freedoms. Critics have argued that it is motivated by anti-gay sentiments.

[Here's Indiana’s RFRA law, explained.]

Weighing in on Monday evening, former Florida governor Jeb Bush said that he supports the law and does not believe it is intended to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“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. 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,” Bush told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I just think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all. … 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.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is expected to announced his presidential candidacy on April 13, also expressed his belief that the law does not legalize discrimination against gay people but instead gives religious Americans the right to ''live out their religious faith."

"Nobody is saying that it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation," Rubio told Fox News Monday evening. "...I think people have the right to live out their religious faith in their own lives. They can't impose it on you in your life. But they have a right to live it out in their own lives. And when you're asking someone who provides professional services to do something, or be punished by law, that violates their faith, you're violating that religious liberty that they have."

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's spokesman Travis Considine said he supported the law. "Governor Perry has always fought to expand religious freedoms, which is why Texas became a beacon for liberty during his leadership. He believes it's up to the states and their leaders to determine what's in the best interests of their citizens," he said.

AshLee Strong, press secretary for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Our American Revival, said: "As a matter of principle, Governor Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience."

GOP Senator Ted Cruz (Texas), who last week announced that he is running for president, and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum both took to social media to express their support for the law.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal weighed in as well, telling Breitbart News Monday that the law is a necessary tool to to guarantee religious liberty in the United States.

“It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to allow Americans to practice their religious ways, while simultaneously ensuring that no one’s beliefs infringe upon those of others. We should also serve as champions of freedom of religion throughout the world,” Carson said.

“I support the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act because I support religious liberty as granted to us in our Constitution,” Jindal told Breitbart News. "...“I oppose discrimination and I reject the notion that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is discriminatory."

[Indiana to ‘clarify’ new law decried as anti-gay.]