The governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, brought up some debate this week when he decided to signed a “religious freedom” law (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) bill that states that the government cannot “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow their religious beliefs, unless it can prove a compelling interest in imposing that burden or do so in the least restrictive way. According to this wording, many believed that the law says that it will prevent the government from infringing on people and their ability to exercise their beliefs. This could also be interpreted as perhaps the ability to give business owners the right to legally discriminate against a certain group of individuals b/c of their personal beliefs. To argue this fact even further, in Indiana, there is no non discrimination state law that protects the LGBT community in employment, housing, or education. This can obviously have dangerous repercussions based on an individual’s interpretation of the bill. And areas that don’t have anti discrimination laws have garnered concern from various critics.
There has been a ripple effect of negative backlash for the state of Indiana as many major businesses and tech companies are expressing concern of their ability to be able to recruit talent due to job seekers worrying about discrimination. Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle is halting plans for an expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters because of his opposition with the religious freedom law. Apple CEO Tim Cook also took issue with the law saying that the measure sparked a “very dangerous wave of legislation”, tweeting the following:
Apple is open for everyone. We are deeply disappointed in Indiana’s new law and calling on Arkansas Gov. to veto the similar #HB1228.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 27, 2015
The NCAA is even taking major issue with the bill. The NCAA’s headquarters are located in Indianapolis and is where the teams involved in the Final Four will play this upcoming weekend. NCAA president Mark Emmert released a statement saying that the organization is concerned with how the legislation could affect their student athletes and employees.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been taking a lot of heat for the proposed bill. He looks to sign legislation by the end of the week that makes it clear that the state’s controversial religious freedom law does not give businesses the right to deny service to anyone.