Indiana’s Expensive Public Relations Contract To Fix Anti-LGBT RFRA Damage Cancelled

by Stephen Peters

The only viable solution is statewide comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to news that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) cancelled the expensive public relations contract it had signed to help repair the tremendous damage caused when Governor Mike Pence signed the anti-LGBT so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. According to Chris W. Cotterill, executive vice president of the IEDC, the contract was cancelled in part because of an “ongoing focus on cost management.”

“As the leadership of Indiana learned, a pricey contract with a PR firm won't fix the damage that Governor Pence's deplorable push for discriminatory legislation inflicted on the state's reputation and economy,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. "Perhaps they were given advice they didn't want to hear? If they're serious, the legislature needs to pass – and Indiana's current or new governor needs to sign – comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.”

Public outcry forced the legislature to pass a bill clarifying the legislation could not be used to justify discrimination, but polling commissioned by HRC soon after the anti-LGBT fiasco revealed that 75 percent of Hoosiers believe the anti-LGBT legislation damaged the state’s economy—and that Governor Mike Pence’s approval rating dropped by nearly 20 points since February. In June, further polling indicated Gov. Pence’s re-election is on the ropes because of the fiasco. According to the Journal Gazette, “Just under one-third of those polled would re-elect Gov. Mike Pence -- 32 percent -- while 54 percent favor a new person and the rest are unsure.” Notably, the poll also found that “a majority support amending Indiana’s civil rights law to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections.”

Countless Hoosiers have called on the Indiana Legislature and Governor Pence to pass comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people —including a front-page editorial in the Indianapolis Star, a coalition of dozens of Indiana-based and national corporations, and the Freedom Indiana coalition.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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