I’ve written about it in the past and some people have voiced the opinion that such legislation would never really pass, let alone signed into law by a governor, but Indiana now has the dubious distinction of being the first state to actually pass a law that allows businesses to legally discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and queer citizens.
Such bills, in the name of “religious freedom,” are being pushed in some 12 states by the GOP and their social conservative members.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) signed the bill into law in the privacy of his office with at least a couple of dozen supporters on hand.
Pence, who has presidential aspirations, defended his support of the pro-discrimination bill by stating that, “there has been a lot of misunderstanding about this bill . . . This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would’ve vetoed it.”
This bill allows businesses to disregard any local anti-discrimination bill, of which there are 18 counties with bills in Indiana, and refuse service to LGBTQ people.
The shortsightedness of the GOP and conservative right is blinding. What LGBTQ, or allied person would ever want to visit a state where hate and discrimination is their new motto?
Businesses are already speaking out against the new law and local leaders are worried over the negative economic impact it will bring to cities like Indianapolis and the state as a whole.
CEO Marc Benioff of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, which bought Indianapolis-based Exact Target for $2.5 billion in 2013 and kept hundreds of employees in the city, stated that his company would abandon the state and its expansion plans there if he signed the measure into law. After Pence signed the bill Benioff tweeted, “Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination.”
The NCAA, who will be holding their Final Four in Indianapolis next week, is publically fretting over this new law. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
He said the NCAA will “work diligently” to ensure competitors and visitors at next week’s Final Four are not “negatively impacted by this bill.” Emmert also said the organization, which is based in Indianapolis, will “closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”
According to CNN, Jason Collins, who last year became the first openly gay active NBA player, asked Pence in a tweet whether it is “going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come” to the Final Four.
Indiana is the first of what might be a handful of states that actually pass such heinous laws against our community. People are going to be hurt from this ridiculous approach to beat back our advances in equality. But we need to stand firm and support our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in these states by not supporting the economy of these states. More and more businesses need to stand up as our allies and divest in Indiana so that equality can spread to all 50 states.