By Chris Tomlinson
Oct 27, 2015 | Houston Chronicle
When voting on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, remember Indiana.
Ultraconservative lawmakers there introduced a so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act that legalized discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity earlier this year.
Responsible Republican leaders, including former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, warned that it would condone bigotry and hatred. Dozens of Indiana business leaders called for an additional law explicitly banning discrimination against those groups. The bigots ignored their pleas, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the act into law on March 26.
That’s when the backlash began.
National business leaders couldn’t condemn the law fast enough. Apple, Wal-Mart, the NBA, the NFL, the NCAA, PayPal, Yelp and dozens of religious denominations demanded the law’s repeal or overhaul. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, announced his company would suspend all travel to Indiana. Angie’s List canceled a $40 million expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters. #BoycottIndiana trended on Twitter.
After a week of outrage, the Indiana Senate and House leaders announced a new law that would forbid discrimination. Supporters of the original act declared defeat.
The lesson? Discrimination is bad for business.
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