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Indiana Took $60 Million Hit After Passing Antigay Law

Indiana Took $60 Million Hit After Passing Antigay Law


Last year's so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act severely damaged the state's convention and tourism business -- and lawmakers are weighing passing an even more anti-LGBT measure this year.

A new study from Visit Indy -- Indianapolis's convention and tourism organization -- found that Indiana lost at least $60 million in revenue after lawmakers there passed the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gave businesses the greenlight to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds.

Though reaction was swift -- and negative -- after Republican governor Mike Pence signed the RFRA legislation last year, it wasn't clear how financially damning the law was. The new study shows the clear ramifications, with 12 out-of-state groups saying the RFRA law convinced them to move their business elsewhere. Numerous businesses, from Angie's List to American Airlines, condemned the discriminatory law, with Apple's out CEO penning an op-ed in the Washington Post blasting Pence's decision to sign the bill.

"The evidence of the disastrous consequences from Gov. Pence's discriminatory RFRA flight last year is undeniable," JoDee Winterhof, the senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. "Despite the profound economic damage they inflicted on the state last year, anti-LGBT lawmakers are so vehemently opposed to equality that they are pushing for an even more catastrophic 'Super RFRA' this year."

This "Super RFRA" will be debated Wednesday in the Sentate Judiciary Committee. While Pence attempted to temper last year's RFRA -- though only after the national outcry -- by clarifying the legislation couldn't be used to opt out of nondiscrimination protections, this new bill would once again make it legal for antigay and anti-trans businesses to turn away LGBT customers. Four anti-LGBT Republican senators are strongly backing the "Super RFRA."

As HRC points out, Indiana has six proposed anti-LGBT bills under consideration, including what they describe as a "vehemently discriminatory bill attacking transgender Hoosiers" that "seeks to criminalize transgender people for using restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity." With little fanfare, 100 anti-LGBT bills have been recently introduced or proposed in 26 states.

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