Gen Con responds to Indiana amending its discriminatory "religious freedom" bill

"We believe this is an important first step."  

Last week gaming convention Gen Con threatened to move future conventions out of Indiana after a controversial "religious freedom" bill passed allowing businesses to deny patrons service based on religious grounds. Worries were strong that it would be used to discriminate against same-sex couples and transgendered folks and what do you know, that's exactly what happened.*

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Gen Con attendees stand tall against discrimination.

Naturally, this received a ton of backlash with several entertainers, including Parks and Recreation actors Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, boycotting the state in their tour.

As such, Indiana has amended the law in a clarification bill signed by Indiana governor Mike Pence. Under the new law, businesses won't be able to discriminate against individuals.

"Last weekend I called upon the Indiana General Assembly to clarify that this new judicial standard would not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual as its critics have alleged," said Governor Pence on his Facebook page. "I am grateful for the efforts of legislators, business and other community leaders who came together to forge this clarifying language in the law."

"Hoosiers deserve to know, that even with this legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enhances protections for every church, non-profit religious organisation or society, religious school, rabbi, priest, preacher, minister or pastor in the review of government action where their religious liberty is infringed. The law also enhances protection in religious liberty cases for groups of individuals and businesses in conscience decisions that do not involve provision of goods and services, employment and housing."

"There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first," Pence stated. "I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana."

Gen Con clarified that "The amended law will reflect Indianapolis' own longstanding human rights ordinance which includes protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With this amendment, no one can refuse you service under RFRA. Period."

That's all good.

"We believe this is an important first step," Gen Con added. "But is just that, a first step."

"Given the great response by Visit Indy, the Indy Chamber, Mayor Greg Ballard, and the businesses of Indianapolis, we believe that all attendees will continue to receive the warm response that we have enjoyed for more than a decade. We won't stop pushing for more diversity and inclusiveness in Indiana, and we will include new concepts and partnerships into our preparations for Gen Con 2015.

"Thank you for your feedback during this discussion! Many representatives from Indy also have asked us to express their gratitude to you for your overwhelming outreach and support. Your voice has been heard in Indiana, and Indy is excited to show you its appreciation for your support. We will continue to look for exciting new ways to improve Gen Con and our attendees' experience."

Gen Con's contract to stay in Indiana currently runs until 2020. It's unclear what will happen after that.

*The pizza place that publicly denied service to same-sex couples was bombarded with negative Yelp reviews, but then raised $829K and counting on a GoFundMe page.

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Jeffrey Matulef

Jeffrey Matulef

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Jeffrey Matulef is the best-dressed man in 1984.

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