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Mike Pence Puts Indiana Jobs at Risk to Pursue Divisive Social Agenda

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Signs a reckless bill so he can join the race to the far-right 

Today, Gov. Mike Pence put 2016 GOP primary politics ahead of Indiana jobs by holding a private signing ceremony for a measure that opens the door to discrimination against the LGBT community.

In signing the religious freedom bill into law, Pence ignored business leaders from around the state — and Indianapolis’ Republican mayor — who said the bill could take tens of millions of dollars out of Indiana’s economy, reduce economic competitiveness, and impede the state’s ability to recruit top talent. 

“There’s no question about it: Governor Pence’s decision today puts Indiana jobs at risk,”  said Jared Leopold, Communications Director for the Democratic Governors Association. “This discriminatory bill is bad for business and dangerous for Indiana families. Today’s decision proves that Governor Mike Pence is more focused on his own divisive social agenda than doing what is best for Indiana’s economy. That might be good news for Mike Pence’s chances in the Iowa presidential primary, but it’s bad news for Indiana jobs.”

Here’s just a few of the many leaders that opposed the bill: 

  • Indiana Chamber of Commerce
  • Salesforce
  • Eli Lilly and Co.
  • Cummins
  • Eskenazi Health
  • Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard (R)

Governor Pence ignored warnings from top companies in Indiana that the bill could threaten Indiana’s economy:

SalesForce CEO: “Without an Open Business Environment That Welcomes All Residents and Visitors, Salesforce Will Be Unable to Continue Building on its Tradition of Marketing Innovation in Indianapolis.” According to the Indianapolis Star, “Tech giant has joined a growing list of companies who are standing in opposition to the ‘religious freedom’ bill currently making its way through the Indiana legislature. In a letter to the Indiana General Assembly, Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, warns that the legislation threatens future growth in Indiana. He goes on to say that the bill removes protection from discrimination, ultimately damaging the states’ economy and business environment. ‘We have been an active member of the Indiana business community and a key job creator for more than a decade,’ McCorkle writes. ‘Our success is fundamentally based on our ability to attract and retain the best and most diverse pool of highly skilled employees, regardless of gender, religious affiliation, ethnicity or sexual orientation.’ Salesforce, a San Francisco-based cloud computing company, bought Indianapolis-based marketing software company ExactTarget for about $2.5 billion in 2013. […] In the letter, McCorkle says the measure endorses discrimination puts the future of a thriving technology center in Indianapolis in jeopardy. He adds that the full impact of the legislation is uncertain. ‘This lack of clarity hurts the business community and the connections that a successful region and state need to continue progress in a competitive environment,’ he writes. ‘Without an open business environment that welcomes all residents and visitors, Salesforce will be unable to continue building on its tradition of marketing innovation in Indianapolis.’” [Indianapolis Star, 3/19/15Reuters, 3/25/15

  • Other Major Indiana Employers Concerned About Impact to Their Business Include: Engine Maker Cummins, Health-Care Provider Eskenazi Health and Pharmaceutical Company Eli Lilly and Co. According to the Indianapolis Star, “The Indiana Chamber and several large Indiana employers — including engine maker Cummins, health-care provider Eskenazi Health and pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. — have already voiced concerns about the measure’s impact on their businesses.” [Indianapolis Star, 3/19/15Reuters, 3/25/15]

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard (R) Raised Concerns That the Measure Could Hurt the City’s Convention Business and Tarnish the State’s Image as a Welcoming Place. According to the Indianapolis Star, “As Gov. Mike Pence prepares Thursday to sign controversial religious freedom legislation into law, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is raising concerns that the measure could hurt the city’s lucrative convention business and tarnish the state’s image as a welcoming place. Ballard, a Republican, said the measure sends the ‘wrong signal’ about the city and state. Opponents fear it could allow business owners to refuse services to same-sex couples. ‘Indianapolis strives to be a welcoming place that attracts businesses, conventions, visitors and residents,’ Ballard said Wednesday in a statement. ‘We are a diverse city, and I want everyone who visits and lives in Indy to feel comfortable here.’” [Indianapolis Star, 3/25/15]

Indianapolis Star Headline: Gen Con Threatens to Move Convention If Gov. Mike Pence Signs Religious Freedom Bill.According to the Indianapolis Star, “The organizers of Gen Con, the city’s largest convention in attendance and economic impact, are threatening to move the event elsewhere if Gov. Mike Pence signs controversial religious freedom legislation that could allow business owners to refuse services to same-sex couples. ‘Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years,’ said Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Pence just hours after lawmakers sent the measure to his desk. Gen Con’s website describes the convention as ‘the original, longest-running, best-attended gaming convention in the world!’ The conference attracted 56,000 people last year to the Indiana Convention Center and has an annual economic impact of more than $50 million, Swartout said in the letter.” [Indianapolis Star, 3/26/15]

Organizers of a Mainline Protestant Church Gathering Are Considering Moving a 6,000 Person Convention from Indianapolis. According to the Washington Post, “Organizers of a mainline Protestant church gathering say they’re considering moving events from Indianapolis due to a bill that would protect business owners who want to decline to provide services for same-sex couples. Leaders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which is based in Indianapolis, wrote Wednesday to Gov. Mike Pence (R) pressing him to veto the proposal. On Monday, Pence said he planned to sign the bill into law. Church leaders say they are reconsidering plans to hold their 6,000-person General Assembly in Indianapolis in 2017 because of concerns that some members ‘might experience legally sanctioned bias and rejection once so common on the basis of race.’ The move is part of a larger effort to use business to pressure state leaders on the issue.” [Washington Post, 3/25/15]

NBA Player Jason Collins Asked Gov. Pence in a Tweet Whether It is “Going to Be Legal for Someone to Discriminate Against Me & Others When We Come” to the Final Four in Two Weeks. According to CNN, “Jason Collins, who last year became the first openly gay active NBA player, asked Pence in a tweet whether it is ‘going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come’ to the Final Four in two weeks.” [CNN, 3/26/15Indianapolis Star, 3/26/15]