In the days before Indiana Governor Mike Pence was to sign the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, several major companies threatened to pull their businesses, and by extension tax money and jobs, out of the state. Governor Pence was unfazed by this, apparently, as he ultimately signed the bill while hiding from the citizens and the press. Who was invited? The hate group known as The American Family Association, among others.
Now that Governor Pence has signed the bill,?the backlash that was being threatened is no longer a threat; Yelp’s CEO tweeted that he would “dramatically reduce our investment in [Indiana]” as a result of the bill’s passing. Now adding to the list of companies against the bill, Angie’s List, a website that deals with crowd-sourced business reviews, has canceled plans to expand into Indiana mere days before the plans were to be set in motion.
“Angie’s List is open to all and discriminates against none and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents,”?Chief Executive Bill Oesterle was quoted.
He said that the plans were “on hold”?until the company could “fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees, both current and future.”
Meanwhile, Governor Pence has defended the bill in the past, saying that it was “misunderstood” due to the way it was portrayed in the press. He claimed that the bill was not for the purpose of discrimination (claiming he would have vetoed it if it was), but just to protect people from state and local laws that might constrict their religious freedom.
I’m pretty sure there have been no laws introduced stopping people from going to church (though one legislator?in Arizona wants a bill?that would force people to go.), so there aren’t too many other reasons such a bill would exist if not for discriminatory practices. Governor Pence?has to know that the bill’s primary purpose is to allow businesses to reject people from entering or patronizing establishments owned by religious extremists. However, admitting that would be even worse press, so he never will.
Interestingly, Arkansas soon after adopted a measure that would have the same effect. Wal-Mart of all companies has criticized it, according to Business Insider, along with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and others. Currently, there are 23 similar bills in other states being considered.
You can view the full text of the bill here.