Republican Gov. Mike Pence received flak from several sectors in Indiana for signing a controversial religious freedom bill. The law, which is modeled from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, will prohibit any governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s religious beliefs.
Some of the most trenchant criticisms came from local businesses and organizations that are responsible for sending millions to Indiana’s economy. Supporters of the bill are adamant that this will only prohibit unnecessary government intrusions and protect people’s religious beliefs. On the other hand, opponents are worried that the new law will give legal grounds for people to discriminate LGBT persons.
According to Pence’s official statement, “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way, I would have vetoed it.” Several big-name individuals have threatened to boycott Indiana if the bill passes through. George Takei is leading the line, while the organizers of Gen Con, one of the state’s biggest conventions, and the NCAA generals among the others.
Due to the NCAA’s involvement and the fact that Indiana will be hosting the Big 4 final, the state is risking losing all collegiate sporting tournaments scheduled to happen in its stadiums. Those include the 2015 Big Ten Football Championship in Dec. 5, the 2016 Women’s Final Four and the 2016 Olympic Trials for diving.
Even the CEO of Salesforce and cofounder of PayPal found the new law a step backwards. Marc Benioff, the Salesforce head, said in his Twitter account that his company is reducing their investment in Indiana due to the outrage brought by the state RFRA. Levchin, cofounder of PayPal, didn’t hold back in his criticism, stating that discrimination is all but welcome in the state.
The federal RFRA came to public knowledge in last year’s Hobby Lobby in the Supreme Court, which gained the same amount of notoriety. Some close-held corporations found a way to not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate if the owner had a religious objection to birth control.
A week before the bill was passed, several organizations have already called for vetoing the bill. They are arguing that a religious person will be using the privileges in this law to exert discrimination towards gay people. The best used example is a religious landlord trying to evict his gay tenant. The law prohibits the government to intervene if the landlord is basing his actions on religious grounds.