No evidence Indiana needed anti-gay discrimination law

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a bill that will let Hoosiers discriminate against anyone they want to in the name of “religious freedom.” The bill clearly was aimed at the LGBT community.

Pence did not hold a public signing ceremony for the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”; instead, the bill was signed behind closed doors. He later tweeted a photo where he was surrounded by religious leaders.

The new law will prohibit a government entity from “burdening” a person’s religious beliefs, with almost no exceptions. It gives state businesses the right to not provide service to gay and lesbian customers based on “religious freedom.” But why was it so important to pass this law?

In a radio interview with a conservative radio host, Pence was asked if there had been anything in Indiana to necessitate this anti-gay bill. “I’m not aware of cases and controversies,” Pence told the host.

So just as in non-existent cases of voter fraud, now we have non-existent cases of someone’s religion coming under attack because he or she was forced to serve a gay person.

Indiana could face some economic blowback. A Christian denomination with historic ties to Indiana, the Disciples of Christ, has threatened to boycott the state, calling the law “contrary to the values of our faith.” Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of business tech company Salesforce, declared on Twitter that his company would boycott the state altogether.

The huge gaming convention Gen Con has threatened to withdraw its convention from the Indiana Convention Center. Last year’s convention in Indiana attracted some 56,000 people to the state and generated some $50 million in revenue, said a letter from the group’s founder.

The NCAA announced that it was “especially concerned” about the new law, but that concern wasn’t enough to make it change the Indiana venue of the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Final Four basketball games the weekend of April 4 and 5. Of course, no change could be made at such a late date, but future dates could be in doubt. The NCAA, which has its headquarters in Indianapolis, released a statement:

“The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events,” the statement read, according to a story in USA Today. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”

Pence is among a growing list of Republicans said to be considering a run in the 2016 presidential race. I guess he thought he needed to establish his anti-gay credentials early in the game.

I, for one, won’t be making a trip to Indiana anytime soon. Funny, but my faith tells me not to give profits to bigots — or to the people who vote for them.

UPDATE: Numerous groups and business are threatening to pull business — indeed, some already have — out of Indiana. So Pence says he’s asking the Indiana Legislature to “clarify” the intent of the law. But he’s not asking for a specific exclusion of the LGBT community. So what else needs “clarifying”?

 

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