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Eye on Indiana/Indiana Backlash


Pence's struggles illustrate gay rights challenge facing GOP

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Indiana Gov. Mike Pence got five cracks at answering the question that has triggered intense backlash against his state's new "religious freedom" law.

The law allows individuals to assert in court that state laws and local ordinances violate their religious beliefs. That, opponents fret, could put LGBT Hoosiers at increased risk of discrimination.

ABC host George Stephanopoulos said all he wanted Sunday was a yes or a no: "Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians?"

Each time, the Republican governor and potential 2016 White House contender deflected.

His struggle illustrated the difficulties Republicans could face headed into the 2016 election -- pulled between a base that supports "religious freedom" bills like Indiana's and the broader electorate -- in a country increasingly intolerant of politicians who oppose gay rights.

And it highlights the potential for a rift the issue poses for Republicans torn between social conservatives whose support they need and Big Business, a traditional big-money constituency that has broken in a big way with the party when GOP-led statehouses have advanced measures perceived as anti-LGBT.

On Sunday, Pence seemed puzzled that Indiana's new law has become so controversial when the federal government and 18 other state legislatures had adopted similar ones over the last 20 years.

Indiana's situation is different. Unlike other states like Illinois, where then-state Sen. Barack Obama supported a similar measure, it doesn't also have a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. And while the debates in those states were typically focused on ensuring the rights of minority groups, Indiana's push was driven by social conservatives who'd just lost a bid to amend a ban on same-sex marriage into the state's constitution a year earlier.

But the bigger difference is the sea change in voter attitudes toward gay rights -- and the reality that many, starting in Indiana, have come to view the push for "religious freedom" bills as a coded rebellion against a flood of legislative actions and judicial decisions legalizing same-sex marriage, with the biggest one yet, from the Supreme Court, expected in June.

Indiana Plans Language to 'Clarify' Religious Objections Law

Associated Press | Tom Davies                 

Republican legislative leaders in Indiana say they are working on adding language to a new state law to make it clear that it doesn't allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The move comes amid widespread outcry over the measure that prohibits state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said at a news conference Monday that the law was meant to promote a message of inclusion but has instead led to one of exclusion. He blamed the fallout on a "mischaracterization" of the legislation.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the measure last week. He defended it during a television appearance Sunday but did not directly answer questions about whether it allowed discrimination against gays and lesbians.

NCAA Says It Will Monitor Impacts of Indiana Religious Law

Associated Press

With the Final Four a week away from shining a spotlight on Indianapolis, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Thursday that the governing body for college sports is concerned about an Indiana law that could allow businesses to discriminate against gay people.

The law would prohibit state and local laws that "substantially burden" the ability of people - including businesses and associations - to follow their religious beliefs.

The NCAA offices are located in Indianapolis, and Emmert said the organization was concerned about how it might impact student athletes and employees. His terse statement also suggested the NCAA might consider moving future events out of Indianapolis.

The conflict arises as thousands of college basketball fans prepare to converge on the city for the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament, an economic behemoth in college sports. The 14-year television contract alone for the event is worth $10.8 billion.

The NCAA has been a mainstay in downtown Indianapolis since 1999, when it relocated from its Kansas location in part because of a rich public-private investment deal from the city to establish the headquarters.

But the new law could put the association in a difficult position. While it has a close relationship with Indiana's capital city, college sports have been at the forefront of several breakthroughs for gay rights in the last two years, and the young adults and college students the NCAA represents have generally been supportive of those changes.

An online push for the NCAA to react to the bill began a couple of days ago with the hashtag (hash)Final4Fairness.

Former professional basketball player Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete to play in the NBA, tweeted: "(at)GovPenceIN, is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come to the (hash)FinalFour?"

The LGBT Sports Coalition also called for the NCAA, the Big Ten, the NFL and USA Diving and USA Gymnastics to pull events from Indianapolis over the next 16 months.

Indiana backlash: Opposition to anti-gay law grows

   CNN | Ben Rooney, Aaron Smith                 

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Add Angie's List to the roster of companies and business interests taking a stand against Indiana's new anti-gay law.

CEO Bill Oesterle announced Saturday that the company had put its proposed campus expansion project in Indianapolis "on hold" following the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Other businesses have also spoken out against the law saying, it will make it harder to attract employees and customers. They note that Indiana doesn't currently have any laws prohibiting discrimination against gay people.

NBA, WNBA, Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever: "The game of basketball is grounded in long established principles of inclusion and mutual respect. We will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome at all NBA and WNBA events in Indiana and elsewhere."

Apple: CEO Tim Cook tweeted that "Apple is open for everyone. We are deeply disappointed in Indiana's new law... Around the world, we strive to treat every customer the same — regardless of where they come from, how they worship or who they love."

Indiana Chamber of Commerce: "In our eyes, the law is entirely unnecessary. Passing the law was always going to bring the state unwanted attention."

Eli Lilly: "We certainly understand the implications this legislation has on our ability to attract and retain employees. Simply put, we believe discriminatory legislation is bad for Indiana and for business."

Gen Con, the video game convention: The law would "factor into our decision making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years."

Salesforce: CEO Marc Benioff said on Twitter that his company will "dramatically reduce our investments" in Indiana, calling the law an "outrage." Benioff called on other CEOs in the tech industry to follow suit.

Yelp: CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said the company will "make every effort" to expand its corporate operations in states that do not have such laws on the books. "These laws set a terrible precedent that will likely harm the broader economic health of the states where they have been adopted, the businesses currently operating in those states and, most importantly, the consumers who could be victimized under these laws."