Indiana’s Governor Under Increasing Pressure Over Religious Freedom Act

Pressure continues to mount on the Governor of Indiana as an ever growing list of both companies and individuals call for changes in the religious freedom act which many believe threatens the rights of LGBT people in the state.

Over a dozen U.S. states have considered similar laws and legislation as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which opponents warn can and will be used to infringe on the rights of LGBT citizens.

Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence was recently interviewed by The Indianapolis Star and said: “I just can’t account for the hostility that’s been directed at our state. I’ve been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill.”

While he appears to be standing behind the bill, he did say he would work with Indiana lawmakers to “see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”

Unfortunately, when the governor was pressed by the media regarding if gay men, women and others in the LGBT community would be protected in this “clarified” law, he said: “That’s not on my agenda.”

Over the weekend (29 March 2015) the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, wrote an opinions piece in the Washington Post, in which he voiced his concern regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, believing something “very dangerous is happening in states across the country.”

“A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbours,” Mr Cook wrote. “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.”

Tim Cook is certainly not alone in applying pressure to both the governor and states who have either adopted the law, or considering similar measures in the future. Salesforce has warned that it will provide limited service within the state and Yelp’s CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman issued the following statement: “Yelp will make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination on the books.” in an open letter.

The Indiana Big Data Conference is also turning into a battleground, with multiple companies pulling out of the event. The event, which will be hosted in Indianapolis on the 7 May, 2015.

This allows major companies to figure out how to make use of user data for business and how to monetize data.

The conference took to Twitter, calling for “immediate correction to the law.”