Politicians, celebrities, and businesses alike are up in arms over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law on March 26 by Governor Mike Pence. Arkansas has followed suit and drafted a similar bill, which has passed through the House and heading to Governor Asa Hutchinson.
The bill gives places of worship and for-profit organizations the same rights as a person, and allows these entities to exercise “practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief.” Ultimately, the public is upset because the law can be applied to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, and some fear a slippery slope of businesses legally discriminating against other minorities.
After national backlash on the bill, Gov. Pence clarified that he never intended the bill to be an avenue for discrimination and pledged to rectify the misunderstanding. However, he stands by the bill as a whole and said the “quick fix” to the bill will not contain state-wide protections for the LGBT community. New language has been approved to be added to the bill on Thursday morning to clarify that the bill is not means for discrimination.
However, that has not stopped one small-town pizza shop in Walkertown that has already taken advantage of the new law, announcing that they will refuse to serve pizza at same-sex weddings. The O’Connor family, who owns the pizza shop, announced that they are a Christian establishment and it is in their religious rights to not support same-sex marriage. However, they clarified that they would serve gay couples who came to eat in their establishment.
The bill is attracting national attention from celebrities, state governments, and companies voicing their dislike for the bill. Connecticut, New York, and Washington have boycotted Indiana in reaction the bill, disallowing all state-funded travel to the state. Celebrities such as Nick Offerman, Ellen DeGeneres, Miley Cyrus, and Cher have voiced their abhorrence for the bill on social media accounts.
The Indy Big Data Conference scheduled for May 7th is feeling the backlash as EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) and Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) have canceled their plans to attend in protest of the RFRA bill. The conference hosts many large companies to learn best practices of tracking, storing, and protecting large amount of data. Both EMC and Oracle are cloud computing companies and both have a top analyst consensus on TipRanks of Moderate Buy.
Other large Indiana-based companies are voicing their discontent. CEOs of Angie’s List Inc (NASDAQ:ANGI) and salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) among others have signed a letter to Gov. Pence, voicing their concern on the impact the RFRA is having on their “employees and on the reputation” of Indiana. The CEOs protested, “All of our companies seek to promote fair, diverse and inclusive workplaces. Our employees must not feel unwelcome in the place where they work and live.” The top analyst consensus on Angie’s List is Hold while the top analyst consensus on Salesforce is Moderate Buy.
Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS) issued a statement speaking out against the bill. Twitter Inc’s policy handle (NYSE:TWTR) tweeted #EqualityForAll and protested “bills that enshrine discrimination,” adding that the RFRA bill is “unjust and bad for business.” Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) published a similar tweet. Gap, Apple, and Twitter all have a top analyst consensus of Moderate Buy on TipRanks.
It is too soon to tell if the Religious Freedom Restoration Act will have a significant impact on Indiana-based business due to opposition, but many businesses are eager to voice their disapproval in order to separate themselves from the bill.