What's next? Boycotts of Indiana, and Indianapolis in particular, when it comes to hosting sporting events (like the Final Four) and conventions?
The "religious freedom bill'' is this close to getting passed, and not only does it leave me queasy on a personal level, it makes me wonder if events and other conventions will look differently at one of the best sports/convention towns in the country.
Jason Collins, the openly gay basketball player, tweeted this the other day: "@GovPenceIN, is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me and others when we come to the Final Four?''
Um, yes, Jason, it will be. Once it's signed into law – and there's every reason to believe this controversial and wrong-headed law will make it to Pence's desk in short order – the answer is, yes, businesses will have the right to discriminate. The only thing that will be missing with be a Jim Crow-like "No LGBT Allowed'' sign over businesses, even if it's implied . . .
Do we really want to become Arizona? The state that refused to recognize the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday, and ended up losing its 1993 Super Bowl bid and the estimated $200 million that would have come with it? The same Arizona that has just dealt with this same religious freedom bill the past year and has cost itself concerts and conventions? Or how about 2010, when Arizona's immigration laws once again left Arizona in the dust regarding conventions and other events?
So to answer Jason Collins' question, the answer is, yes, businesses will have the right – the “religious freedom'' – to deny you service . . .The Indianapolis Star followed quickly with a warning that the city's largest convention, Gen Con, might move its annual convention elsewhere if Gov. Pence signs the legislation into law.
The organizers of Gen Con, the city's largest convention in attendance and economic impact, are threatening to move the event elsewhere if Gov. Mike Pence signs controversial religious freedom legislation that could allow business owners to refuse services to same-sex couples.
"Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years," said Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Pence just hours after lawmakers sent the measure to his desk . . .It looks pretty bleak. Right? Until you consider all of the other states which will have to be boycotted, and that's a pretty lengthy list. Nineteen states have RFRA laws to be precise, including a number of states with notable convention and sports destination venues, such as Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Now you know the rest of the story.