HRC Condemns Governor Mike Pence for Signing Dangerous Anti-LGBT Legislation

by Stephen Peters

Indiana Governor signs overly vague anti-LGBT bill in to law allowing individuals to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people and other minorities

WASHINGTON – In spite of overwhelming opposition by corporations and civil rights advocates, the Governor of the “Crossroads of America”, Mike Pence, today signed in to law a sweeping bill allowing individuals to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people and other minorities. The CEO of one major local employer, Salesforce, has already noted they are now forced to dramatically reduce investment in the state because of outrage from employees and customers over the new law.

“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. This new law hurts the reputation of Indiana and will have unacceptable implications for LGBT people and other minorities throughout the state. Astoundingly, Indiana representatives ignored the warnings of businesses and fair-minded Hoosiers, and now business owners and corporations are forced to consider other options when looking at states to invest in.”

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and local employers including Alcoa, Cummins, Eli Lilly & Co., and Salesforce spoke out against the new law, warning that it is bad for business. The first bill of its kind passed into law this year, the Indiana law is a part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being introduced around the country targeting LGBT people. Similar legislation has been opposed in other states by major companies including Wal-Mart and Apple out of concern that they undermine existing civil rights law and deeply harm the business climate of states in which they are passed.

Many of these bills could critically undermine the enforcement of state non-discrimination protections, and passing them will do serious harm to the business climate of these states—exposing the state to a wave of lawsuits, putting jobs at risk, and making major corporations think twice about investing in states that previously had pro-business reputations.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that businesses should not be able to deny services to someone because they’re gay or lesbian. According to a 2013 poll by Third Way and the Human Rights Campaign, 69 percent of Americans don’t think a business owner should be allowed to refuse to provide products or services to an individual because that person is gay or lesbian, compared to an incredibly small 15% that do. And when asked about small business owners in particular, a full 68% of Americans don’t think they should be able to refuse service to gays or lesbians, regardless of their religious beliefs. This supermajority included 55% of Republicans, 75% of Independents, 67% of people without college degrees, and 68% of Christians.

HRC is a founding member of the Freedom Indiana coalition—a campaign of state and national organizations who worked to try to stop this bill from becoming law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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