INDIANAPOLIS

- Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defended the new state law that's garnered widespread criticism over concerns it could foster discrimination against gays and lesbians and said yesterday it wasn't a mistake to have enacted it.

Pence appeared on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" to discuss the measure he signed last week prohibiting state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of "person" includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

Since the Republican governor signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the nation.

Pence did not answer directly when asked at least six times whether under the law it would be legal for a merchant to refuse to serve gay customers. "This is not about discrimination, this is about empowering people to confront government overreach," he said.

- Associated Press