The fallout over Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” continues, with Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle announcing today (Saturday, March 28) that his company is canceling plans for a $40 million expansion in Indianapolis because of the law.
According to TheNewCivilRightsMovement.org, Angie’s List has been headquartered in Indianapolis since it was founded in 1995. The corporation, worth $315 million, had planned to move its headquarters across town, adding 1,000 new jobs over five years.
In a statement released Saturday, Oesterle said the company’s expansion is “on hold until we fully understand the implications [of the RFRA] on our employees, both current and future.” Oesterle also said that the company “is open to all and discriminates against none and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents.”
The statement said Angie’s List will “begin reviewing alternatives,” and the IndyStar reported that the company has “hinted that moving some parts of the company out of state is ‘on the table.’”
The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law Thursday, March 26, by Republican Gov. Mike Pence, prevents state and local governments from “substantially burdening” a person’s exercise of religion unless a “compelling governmental interest” can be proved.
Although Pence and other supporters insist — at least publicly — that the new law is not intended to discriminate against anyone, most opponents believe it was passed specifically in response to recent court rulings in favor of marriage equality to allow people to refuse to serve LGBT people. Others have pointed out the law could also be used to discriminate against people for a broad range of reasons, including race and religion.
It is modeled after the 22-year-old federal RFRA that the U.S. Supreme Court cited last year in a ruling allowing Hobby Lobby and other “closely held” corporations with religious objections to opt out of an Affordable Care Act requirement that they cover certain contraceptives for women.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has barred Seattle city employees from using tax dollars to pay for business trips to Indiana, following in the steps of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Also among those joining the growing negative response are Apple, Inc., the White House, Broadway’s Audra McDonald, $4 billion software firm Salesforce, $50 million annual gaming convention GenCon, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Fortune 500 member Cummins, Eskenazi Health, Eli Lilly and Co., Yelp, Hillary Clinton, George Takei, Pat McAfee, Jason Collins, Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus, James Van Der Beek, Sophia Bush, Dustin Lance Black, Mara Wilson, Jack Antonoff, the mayor of Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana’s own tourism board.