Gov. Pence Calls Press Conference to Clarify Indiana RFRA Law

Update (3/31/2015 2:54 p.m.): List of states banning state-funded travel to Indiana updated to include New York


By Michael Nam

Gov. Pence called his own press conference on Tuesday morning to say what he would not say on ‘This Week’: that the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana would not allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT-identifying people, and that new legislation should be passed to clarify that.

“As governor of the state of Indiana, I believe it would be the right thing to do to move legislation that would make it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone,” he stated.

However, the governor did maintain that the uproar over the law was a “perception problem,” and that the legislation was “about restraining government overreach.”

The press conference also came the day after republican legislators made similar promises of tweaking the legislation following the backlash from the bills’ passage, and the governor’s own appearance on ‘Fox & Friends’ earlier where he also claimed that the bill was not meant to discriminate.

Since the passage of the law, numerous business interests, organizations and individuals have taken public stands against the new law, and some have even taken direct actions.

The organization Lambda Legal expressed skepticism of Pence and the RFRA in the ABC interview and broke down the talking points defending the law.

Indiana-basedDiversityInc Top 50 companiesCummins andEli Lilly and Company and a coalition of companies asked for new legislation to ensure that LGBT citizens in Indiana would not be discriminated against

Convention business in Indiana shows signs of being damaged with labor union AFSCME announcing it will be moving its fall women’s conference, the gaming convention, Gen Con, threatening to move for future convention years.

States and cities such as Connecticut, Washington, New York,San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco are banning travel to Indiana for state or municipal business.

The republican mayor of Indianapolis issued an executive order to expressly state that no one doing business with the city could discriminate “on the basis of race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, age, or United States military service veteran status.”

With such an uproar against Indiana, the spotlight is also being cast on other efforts to undermine LGBT rights in multiple states.

A RFRA bill in Georgia stalled in committee after a republican legislator added explicit anti-discriminatory language in an amendment to the act.

According to Reuters, the retail giant, Walmart, headquartered in Arkansas, and Apple, both have come out strongly against a similar act to Indiana’s RFRA that passed the Arkansas Senate. Gov. Asa Hutchison has stated he would sign the bill

Conversely, legislation meant to strengthen LGBT rights in Michigan has found support from another Diversity Top 50 compnay, Kellogg Company, headquartered in Battle Creek. The Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition seeks to update the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

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