“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” said Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana on Thursday, according to the Indy Star. “The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” he said. Tomorrow, members of the LGBT community turned away by businesses — something reminiscent of apartheid and the segregated south — will likely feel under attack themselves.
The decision made by Pence brought on a great many responses across political, social, sports, and even Hollywood spheres. The breadth of the response is appropriate, given the expansive group of people who will be affected, and the trend seen in recent years of justifying exclusionary and prejudicial practices with religion. Arizona had a similar bill in its legislature, however Gov. Janice Brewer vetoed the bill, stating that she did not believe it was truly being passed in response to real problems being faced by religious individuals protecting their liberty, but instead that it was “broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences,” and had the “potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.” She was likely also concerned by the potential loss of major business interests within her state, and the economic impact unfriendly relations with the Super Bowl Host Committee and Major League Baseball would have on it.
Gov. Pence does not appear to share the same concerns, despite similar feedback from many businesses, groups, and sports interests. Let’s take a look at a few.
The tech industry
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tweeted that his business would be avoiding the state in protest of the new policy, and he’s been quite vocal in calling on others in the technology industry to boycott and publicly call out Indiana for its law change.
Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination. http://t.co/SvTwyCHxvE
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) March 26, 2015
In a phone interview with re/code, Benioff stated that Salesforce “made significant investments in Indiana.” He went on to add, “We run major marketing events and conferences there. We’re a major source of income and revenue to the state of Indiana, but we simply cannot support this kind of legislation.” CoFounder of Paypal, Max Levchin, voiced his own concern on the legislation:
What is happening in Indiana is pretty unbelievable. However it’s dressed up, it’s a signal that discrimination is welcome in this state. — Max Levchin (@mlevchin) March 26, 2015
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp Inc., published an open letter on Yelp’s Official Blog emphasizing that future business would be threatened by the law. He called the idea that Yelp would “create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence” in a state with a law like Indiana’s “unconscionable.” He also “encourage[d]” other states looking at passing their own laws to rethink the idea, adding a parenthetical, “We’re looking at you, Arkansas.”
“I hope that in the future the legislatures in the nineteen states that have these laws on the books will reconsider their actions,” wrote Stoppelman. “In the mean time, Yelp will make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination.”
The gaming industry has also made its feelings known. An enormous video-gaming convention, Gen Con, which has been a regular staple in Indianapolis for more than 10 years and attracts over 56,000 visitors, published a letter to Pence, warning that “legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.” He also reminded the governor that the yearly economic impact totaled over $50 million.
Other businesses which may consider pulling their involvement out of Indiana include Lilly, Disciples of Christ, and the City and County of San Francisco. Think Progress is keeping a running updated total.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, another economic contributor to the state, published a statement on Thursday, adding its own concern. “Moving forward, we intend to closely examin the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events,” stated Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees.”
This is a concern shared by those students, and vocalized Jason Collins — the first openly gay active NBA player — on twitter:
— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins98) March 23, 2015
As a liberal bastion, it’s unsurprising that San Francisco’s political leaders have been critical of Indiana’s law change. Both current Mayor Edwin Lee and former Mayor and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted about the bill’s signature, with Newsom praising the response of local businesses:
And while the bill had Republican support in the state Congress of Indiana, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D) was openly critical of the passage. “Although not unexpected, it is still extremely disappointing that Governor Pence endorses this out-of-touch, discriminatory legislation,” said Lanane, adding that it “portrayed out state as intolerant, unfriendly, and backwards,” according to the Indy Star.
Hillary Clinton, the largest contender for Democratic candidate in 2016’s presidential election, has made her own feelings known, expressing sorrow at where the nation currently stands on same-sex rights:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 27, 2015
There has also been input from a huge number of celebrities, including, but not limited to Ashton Kutcher asking if Indiana’s businesses would also be allowed to ban Jews, and Miley Cyrus calling Pence “an asshole.” Some of the best samples included below:
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) March 27, 2015
M0re from Politics Cheat Sheet:
- Which Countries Have the Worst LGBT Records, From Jail Time to Death?
- The Supreme Court in 2015: Gay Marriage, Obamacare, Religion, and More
- Where Do Potential 2016 Candidates Stand on Same-Sex Marriage?
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