Indianapolis out $60 Million Due to Anti-LGBT Religious Exemption Legislation

January 26, 2016 • 2:23 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report from Visit Indy found that Indianapolis has lost as much as $60 million in business due to the religious exemption bill that was signed into law last year. The 12 out-of-state groups surveyed for the study unanimously said that the so called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which legalized discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, played a role in their decision to hold their event in another city.

“This is the latest piece of evidence that shows Indiana’s religious exemptions bill has hurt the state’s reputation and economy,” Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, said.

Just last week, Visit Indy released the results of another survey that found only 45 percent of meeting decision makers believe “Indy [Indianapolis] welcomes all,” and only 28 percent believe “Indiana welcomes all.”  Of those meeting planners that did not book, 23 percent said it was because of their “perception of the city.” That poll also found that 58 percent of convention planners say that Indianapolis was mentioned in the news for RFRA or LGBT rights instead of the Indy 500 or the NCAA Final Four.

“Right now, legislatures have the opportunity to right this ship and ensure that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to live and work in Indiana without fear of discrimination,” McTighe added. “Unfortunately, some lawmakers are trying to double-down on RFRA and pass legislation that will actually do even more harm than before.”

The state Senate is considering three bills that will impact LGBT rights in the Hoosier State this week, including Senate Bill 66, which is known as “Super RFRA” or “RFRA 2.0.” If passed, the law would make it legal for any business or individual to ignore local laws that are already on the books to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination.

The other two bills that will be heard in committee include SB 100 and SB 344, which contain some protections for LGBT Hoosiers, but do not currently go far enough to undo the damage inflicted by RFRA.

“The rest of the country is watching the Hoosier state right now, and it’s imperative that Indiana turns the page on RFRA and proves that it is open and welcoming to all,” McTighe concluded.  “Freedom for All Americans is on the ground this week to help pass nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals and to fight against Super RFRA.”

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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