When Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence signed a bill into law that essentially allows gay people to be legally discriminated against in the name of religious freedom, he must have anticipated a response from the LGBT community. However, it’s not just gays that are furious about the bill. From major economic players, to celebrity allies, people and businesses are standing up and telling Indiana’s lawmakers that prejudice doesn’t sit well with them, or their wallets.
One of the first major players to come out against the bill was GenCon, a massive comic and sci-fi convention which brings in over 50 million in revenue to the state each year. The convention sent a letter to the Governor letting him know that if the bill passed, after their contractual obligation was up with the city in 2020, they may have to consider taking the event elsewhere. After the bill was indeed passed, GenCon addressed their attendees and let them know that the discussion to move the con is still on the table.
Saleforce, a Fortune 500 company, also announced that it wasn’t about to stand by while citizens of the state, and Salesforce employees were subject to discrimination. CEO Mark Benioff announced that Salesforce would no longer be sending their employees and customers to Indiana.
But that’s not all. In an interview with Re/Code, spoke of the bigger picture. “We’ve made significant investments in Indiana. We run major marketing events and conferences there. We’re a major source of income and revenue to the state of Indiana, but we simply cannot support this kind of legislation.” Benioff is also calling on other companies to take the same steps.
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman led his voice and that of his major company’s to the fight as well in an open letter. Yelp had also tried to discourage the passing of a similar law in Arizona.
The NCAA, whose March Madness tournament brings in major cash to the cities it is held in, also made a statement about the organizations concerns about the bill. From NCAA President Mark Emmert:
Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Jason Collins, Miley Cyrus, Chris Kluwe and more have come down hard on the discriminatory bill, but perhaps none delivered quite the burn that Tony Award winning actress and ally Audra McDonald did in a series of tweets addressed to the Governor.
Audra points out just how plainly wrong the bill is, and follows up with her own plans to do something about it. Now that’s an ally.
Indiana isn’t the only state with a bill like this. In fact, there are religious freedom bills in states across the country. Michigan tried something very similar late last year, but it was unsuccessful. It didn’t garner nearly this much outrage, and I can’t help but wonder why. But maybe there is something about seeing the Governor and all those smiling religious leaders, turning the LGBTQ citizens of Indiana into second class citizens again with the flick of a pen.
Perhaps seeing how bills like this can bring about swift and serious consequences, will discourage other states from even bringing them to the floor. If we can’t change hearts and minds, we can at least decide to take our finances elsewhere, and with big businesses and advocates on our side, that’s a hell of a lot more cash.