— NBA (@NBA) March 28, 2015
The State of Indiana recently passed a law that expressly allows discrimination based on sexual orientation under the banner of religious liberty. The “religious freedom” law is designed to protect businesses from facing lawsuits from members of the LGBT for refusing service. Supporters of the Indiana law want people and businesses to be able to discriminate against LGBT potential-customers on the grounds that they are exercising their religious freedom and therefore should be protected from discrimination lawsuits.
Though other states have religious freedom laws, many of which were enacted before the marriage equality movement hit full steam, the law in Indiana is different in “scope and effect” according to a spokesperson from the Human Rights Campaign who also told CNN that the Indiana law “is the broadest and most dangerous law of its kind in the country.”
The business community is also opposing the bill including the leader of the biggest company in the world – Apple CEO Tim Cook who is openly gay. Cook wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post that discrimination laws were dangerous.
A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.
These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.
Cook has been joined in opposing the Indiana law by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff who stated he will not be holding business events in Indiana. Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle said the company – headquartered in Indiana – is canceling plans to expand in the state.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence says he does not support changing the law he signed and blamed the media for the backlash to the law by spreading “misinformation and misunderstanding,” despite the fact that the reporting on the bill aligns well with the facts. Previous to the passage of the law businesses and activists had been opposing the legislation and were well acquainted with the law and its implications making it unlikely that those opposing the law are doing so out of ignorance.
What remains to be seen is whether the people of Indiana – through their representatives – will continue to support the bill once the boycott starts taking its toll.