* Everybody keeps saying we should be more like Indiana. Well…
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) quietly signed legislation Thursday that could legalize discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. But many opponents of the bill, which included business leaders, argued that it could open the door to widespread discrimination. Business owners who don’t want to serve same-sex couples, for example, could now have legal protections to discriminate.
“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” Pence said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
The bill received national attention, but Pence signed it with little fanfare in a ceremony closed to the public and the press. The Indianapolis Star reported that members of the media “were asked to leave even the waiting area of the governor’s office.”
* They’s sooooo pro-business…
The business community also suggested the law would impact the quality of their workforces. In testimony in the legislature while the bill was debated, several businesses said the law would hamper efforts to retain employees and recruit new hires because some might object to living in a state with a religious freedom law in place. […]
Tim Brown, CEO of Meetings Sites Resources of Irvine, Calif., said it’s unlikely that conventions or other groups will cancel already scheduled meetings in Indiana because they’d have to pay stiff cancellation fees to hotels. But the multimillion-dollar convention industry in Indianapolis could be hurt if groups that book conventions years ahead of time decide to avoid Indiana, he said.
“It’s hard to quantify,” how strong the anti-Indiana feeling will be in the convention and meeting industry, he said. “But you really are talking about the potential loss of revenue and jobs if it gets legs.”
* I mean, look at them, they are hosting the Final Four…
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign into law a measure that could allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of “religious freedom” has left the NCAA fretting ahead of next week’s men’s basketball Final Four in Indianapolis.
“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.” […]
Indiana doesn’t currently have a law on the books protecting Hoosiers from discrimination based on sexual orientation. But a dozen counties do — and opponents of the “religious freedom” law have said they’re worried the new measure will be used to allow businesses to get around those local rules.
* And they’re so hip, man…
The organizers of Gen Con, the city’s largest convention in attendance and economic impact, are threatening to move the event elsewhere if Gov. Mike Pence signs controversial religious freedom legislation that could allow business owners to refuse services to same-sex couples.
“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,” said Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Pence just hours after lawmakers sent the measure to his desk.
* To the bill…
Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer