‘Religious freedom’ law may whack Indiana’s economy

Indiana may be about to take a big hit in the pocketbook.

The governor, Mike Pence, today signed a so-called “religious freedom” bill, providing legal cover for businesses and institutions who don’t want to do business with gay and lesbian customers.

“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” he said in a statement.

“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 event was closed to the public and the press, and his office wouldn’t identify any of the people in the picture above.

“The Governor of Indiana has codified discrimination in a place that’s renowned for its leadership in athletics,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. “Now, the same state that’s home to the NCAA, the Final Four, and next year’s NFL Combine is a place where you can be turned away for being gay.”

Indeed, Indiana is a home to some of the nation’s biggest sporting events. So is Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed a similar measure last year after the National Football League dropped the hint that it would punish the state where the Super Bowl is often held.

Indiana also risks losing future NCAA Final Four business, just two weeks before this year’s tournament is to be held in Indianapolis.

“The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events,” Mark Emmert, the NCAA president said today. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently 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. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”

It’s already losing business. The head of Salesforce.com tweeted today that his firm is done doing business in Indiana.

It’s unclear, though, if that includes closing the company’s ExactTarget headquarters in Indianapolis.

Pence downplayed the impact of the law on gays and lesbians, saying it has been misreported by the media.

On his website today, Eric Miller, the head of Advance America, said otherwise.

Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!

A Christian business should not be punished for refusing to allow a man to use the women’s restroom!
A church should not be punished because they refuse to let the church be used for a homosexual wedding!

In the photo above, Miller is standing just behind the governor.