- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2015

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina chided business leaders Wednesday for rushing to oppose the Religious Freedom Restoration Act measures under attack in Arkansas and Indiana “before checking their facts.”

“It is frankly sad to me that politics has become a fact-free zone,” Ms. Fiorina, who is pro-gay marriage and is weighing a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said in a statement on Facebook.

“It is sad that so many people on the left were quick to turn this into a divisive and destructive debate so they could further their own brand of identity politics,” she said. “It is sad that CEOs took to Twitter before checking their facts, adding to the division instead of helping build tolerance.”

Ms. Fiorina, in her most extensive comments on the issue to date, said both religious freedom and equal rights are important, calling for finding a way to “celebrate a culture that protects religious freedom while condemning discrimination.”

“The debate about gay marriage is really a debate about how the government bestows benefits and whether they should be bestowed equally. I believe they should,” she said. “I also believe that people of religious conviction know that marriage is a religious institution with a spiritual foundation because only a man and a woman can create life, which is a gift that comes from God. We must protect their rights as well.”

At the same time, she said she refuses to “join the game of name calling and vitriol.”

SEE ALSO: Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas governor, sends religious-freedom bill back to legislature for ‘remedy’

“This debate represents what so many believe is wrong with our politics,” Ms. Fiorina said. “It has taken an emotional issue for people on both sides and politicians have used it to divide and to score points with their team.”

Most Republicans considering a run for the presidential nomination have spoken out in support of the RFRA and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the bill last week but then called on the state legislature Tuesday to make it clear that the measure does not allow discrimination.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has said that he supports religious freedom and opposes discrimination, but he has declined to comment on the Indiana debate.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson sent back a RFRA bill to the state legislature Wednesday, asking legislators to find a “remedy” to address concerns about discrimination.

Twenty states and the federal government have approved RFRA laws. Defenders say it provides needed religious protections, while foes argue that it provides a “license to discriminate” against gay and transgender people.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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