Reaction was swift and sometimes harsh after Governor Mike Pence, (R) Indiana signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law.
Indianapolis could lose a couple of big conventions over the controversial measure, and giant Salesforce reportedly said it would halt plans to expand in the Hoosier state.
Closer to home, St. Joseph County’s Democratic Party vowed to boycott any that used religious freedom to deny services to same sex couples.
“People do care deeply about the issue, they don’t want to see Indiana, they don’t want to see human and civil rights rolled back,” said Community Activist Willow Wetherall. “I feel a deep sense of sadness and anger.”
It’s been awhile since conservatives have had much to cheer about on the legal front, but they did today as Governor Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act during a private .
“If homosexual activists hadn't tried to criminalize Christianity we wouldn't have to do this,” said Patrick Mangan with Citizens for Community Values/ Indiana.
For Mangan, Religious Restoration was a direct and appropriate response to court rulings that legalized same sex . It purportedly provides a way to protect people of faith from having to cater, photograph, or even officiate same sex weddings.
“So we should never impose on all the such an onerous responsibility as to go against their deeply held religious beliefs protected in the first amendment and tell them you have to cooperate with something you believe is an abomination,” said Mangan.
Meantime, for same sex advocates in South Bend, the Religious Freedom Act provided a double whammy. “We just celebrated our third anniversary of an amendment to our own human rights ordinance which gave really important protections that our LGBT community lost. The legislation that was just signed into law undoes six years of hard fought protections for the citizens of South Bend,” said Wetherall.
Indianapolis has already faced the threatened loss of convention business due to the bill signing. It remains to be seen if may sour on South Bend.
“The very definition of Hoosier hospitality is rolling out the welcome mat for our visitors and representing the best of our state. That means welcoming all. We don't want a bill like this to give the impression that there's an asterisk next to Hoosier hospitality,” said Rob DeCleene, Director of the St. Joseph County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
The bill signing came about a week before Indianapolis was set to host the Final Four round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.
The NCAA today issued a statement saying it was committed to an “inclusive environment,” and that it would work to make sure visitors weren’t negatively impacted by the bill.