As Governor Mike Pence signed the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law Thursday, he blamed the media for what he calls a misunderstanding of the law.
RFRA establishes a judicial test that courts will use to decide when the government can infringe on a person’s religious beliefs and practices. Many groups say they’re concerned it will be used to sanction discrimination, particularly against LGBT Hoosiers. But Pence says if he thought the law, which exists at the federal level and in 30 other states, was discriminatory, he would have vetoed it.
“This legislation has never eroded anti-discrimination laws in the United State of America ever,” Pence says.
Several Indiana companies and groups that hold conventions in Indianapolis have expressed concerns about the bill, threatening to leave the state. Pence says he’ll talk with them about that.
“We’re going to reach out to any of our friends in the corporate community who have concerns and do our level best to explain to them what we’ve done here,” the governor says.
Meanwhile, at least one company has made good on a promise to cut its business in Indiana in response to the so-called religious freedom law signed into law in a behind-closed-doors ceremony Thursday.
Just over an hour after Governor Pence affixed his signature to the bill, the CEO of tech company Salesforce – which last year bought Indianapolis-based Exact Target, sent out a Tweet saying he was scaling back business in the state.
Marc Benioff says his company is "…canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination.”
Benioff then issued another tweet aimed at similar tech companies urging them to reduce their investments in the state as well.
Democratic lawmakers, the ACLU, and gay rights groups all sent out statements opposing the governor’s decision to sign the bill, calling it a step backward for the state and deeply flawed. The pro-life community, led by Indiana Right to Life, strongly supports Pence’s move.
The bill takes effect July 1.