Over loud objections from Indiana business leaders, GOP Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday that protects business owners who refuse service to gay and lesbian customers on religious grounds. Organizers of mass events in Indianapolis, including the NCAA's Final Four, immediately decried the law as discriminatory, and suggested that the bill might cause the state to lose out on future business.
The law allows Indianans who are sued for discrimination to cite their religious beliefs as a defense. It applies to a broad range of situations. An employer who refused to hire Jewish employees could cite his religious beliefs as a defense against discrimination lawsuits. So could a landlord who refused to rent to Muslims, or a business that refused to serve atheists.
At a news conference that followed the private signing, Pence explaining he signed the bill "because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith…Today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action." He cited the University of Notre Dame's fight to prevent its employees from accessing birth control as an example