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Texas: Take Note of Indiana Religious Discrimination Backlash

Last week, Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence signed a bill known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law—a bill strikingly similar to one proposed in Texas this legislative session. In the days since, Indiana’s religious discrimination law has sparked intense backlash from businesses, associations, local and state governments, civil liberties groups and LGBT advocates from across the country. Thousands gathered in front of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis on Saturday to protest the new law which could be used by individuals and businesses to discriminate—particularly against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals—in the name of religious freedom.

Senator Donna Campbell’s SJR 10 is similar in scope to—and even more vague than—Indiana’s radically discriminatory bill and would allow individuals and institutions to use religion to fire or turn away LGBT Texans and could also harm women, children and Texans of all faiths. And there is every reason to believe that if Texas lawmakers were to pass such a measure, the same resoundingly negative outcry and costly economic impact would ensue.

  • Angie’s List, headquartered in Indianapolis, is canceling its plans for a $40 million, 1000 job expansion.
  • The CEO of Salesforce, a $4 billion, Fortune 500 corporation with operations in Indiana, announced the company would abandon the state and its expansion plans.
  • The President of the NCAA, based in Indianapolis, said he is "deeply concerned" and "didn't deny it could lead to significant changes in the NCAA's relationship with Indianapolis and the state of Indiana."
  • The organizers of Gen Con, Indianapolis’ largest convention in attendance and economic impact, have threatened to move its $50 million event out of state.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook penned an op-ed in the Washington Post calling “pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws” dangerous.
  • Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote “it is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees, or consumers at large.”
  • Connecticut Governor Dan Milloy signed an executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana.

The Texas Association of Business has already expressed public opposition to the dangerous and unnecessary bills touted by extreme right-wing lawmakers under the guise of “religious freedom.”