As the 2015 Indiana Legislative Session begins, businesses based in the Hoosier State are pushing back against potential legislation that would allow LGBT Americans to be discriminated against in places of accommodation, including stores and hotels.
Major corporations and business groups based in Indiana — including pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, Cummins Engine Company, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, and a coalition of tech companies — are pushing for a broad civil-rights law to protect people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, according to officials who spoke to BuzzFeed News.
They insist that such laws must protect LGBT people in housing, jobs, and public accommodations.
But the businesses may find themselves at odds with Republican Gov. Mike Pence, one of the religious freedom law’s prime backers. (Shortly after the law was passed and drew national backlash, Pence signed a so-called fix bill that said the law could not be used to discriminate against LGBT people.) He has since been floating a trial balloon for compromise legislation that would lack coverage in places of accommodation – thereby allowing LGBT discrimination by businesses such as in hotels and restaurants, according to BuzzFeed News interviews and local media reports.
The carve-out is called a “Utah compromise,” referring to a nondiscrimination law there that lacks coverage for public accommodations. But spokespeople for business groups and companies in Indiana that back a comprehensive law said they reject a compromise out of hand.
“We would not accept a bill that lacks coverage for public accommodation,” Eli Lilly spokesman Ed Sagebiel told BuzzFeed News.
This isn't the first time Indiana businesses have rebelled against such legislation. After the state's RFRA law was passed in March 2015, major corporations like Salesforce, Yelp, Angie's List, and Apple expressed their displeasure, some even going so far as to cancel major events or threaten to pull a thousand proposed jobs from Indiana. Their actions, along with collective outrage from around the nation, helped to sway Governor Pence a bit back towards sanity. Let's hope that, in this instance, money talks loudly enough to drown out those who wish to discriminate against their neighbors.