Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence
Businesses and activists have lashed out at Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence for signing a state law that will allow LGBT people and other minorities to be discriminated against.
On Thursday, in spite of significant opposition from corporations and human rights groups, Pence signed the controversial legislation into law in a private ceremony.
Critics say the law will allow businesses and individuals to refuse to serve LGBT people if doing so is against their “religious beliefs.”
Pence and the law’s supporters claim that it simply aims to protect religious freedom. “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalised discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it,” he said in a statement.
Many are unconvinced. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and a number of local employers have spoken out against the law.
The CEO of cloud computing company, Salesforce, Marc Benioff, has announced that the company will “dramatically reduce investment” in the state because of “employee’s & customer’s outrage over the Religious Freedom Bill.”
“Today we are cancelling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination,” he added on Twitter.
The co-founder of PayPal and the Chairman of Yelp, Max Levchin, also condemned the law, writing on social media: “What is happening in Indiana is pretty unbelievable. However it’s dressed up, it’s a signal that discrimination is welcome in this state.”
In a statement, The National College Athletic Association (NCAA), which is hosting its men’s basketball Final Four in the state, said that it will work “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.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert added that, “Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) slammed Indiana’s lawmakers and its governor. “The Indiana General Assembly and Governor have sent a dangerous and discriminatory message with this new law,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “They’ve basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it’s ok to discriminate against people despite what the law says.”
She warned that business owners and corporations are now “forced to consider other options when looking at states to invest in.”
There are currently around 70 bills pending in over 20 US states that would allow discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs.