Wilco Stands Up To Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Wilco has rearranged its tour schedule in response to Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Gov. Mike Pence signed last week. The band announced that it won’t be playing the state until the measure is repealed.

Indiana’s reputation has taken a beating in the past week as countless critics have spoken out against the act, saying it would give businesses permission to refuse service to lesbian and gay customers under the guise of religious freedom. State and local governments, including Connecticut and San Francisco, have banned taxpayer-funded travel to Indiana while many businesses have spoken out, including Angie’s List, which halted its expansion plans in the state.

Photo: John Davisson
Lockn' – Interlocking Music Festival, Oak Ridge Farm, Arrington, Va.

Wilco is just one of the many public figures that have condemned the act. Jeff Tweedy & Co. were scheduled to play Indianapolis in between stops in Cincinnati and Louisville. The guys announced the show’s cancelation with the following message on Facebook and Twitter:

“We are canceling our May 7 show at the Murat in Indianapolis. The ‘Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination to us. Hope to get back to the Hoosier State someday soon, when this odious measure is repealed. Refunds available at point of purchase.”

Nick Offerman and his wife and fellow comedian/actor Megan Mullally have also called off their show in Indiana. The “Summer of 69: No Apostrophe” tour was supposed to stop in the state May 16. Offerman tweeted that while he’ll continue with plans to play Indiana University April 1, he’s donating proceeds to the Human Rights Campaign.

Gov. Mike Pence held a press conference Tuesday in an effort to squash some of the backlash against the act.

“After much reflection and in consultation with leadership in the General Assembly, I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone,” Pence said, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The paper noted that many people aren’t clear as to what Pence is proposing because the governor said that he isn’t interested in a statewide ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation.  

“I’ve never supported that,” Pence said. “It’s not on my agenda. But I think it’s a completely separate question. I mean, we are talking about the religious freedom restoration act, which is about restoring the highest level of scrutiny in our state courts in matters of government action that intrude upon the religious liberty of Hoosiers. That’s where I want to stay focused.”

Pence has also been busy defending the act and his stance against discrimination on Twitter. Plus, he penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the subject.  

Meanwhile, the Arkansas state legislation passed its own version of a religious freedom bill on Tuesday. The New York Times reports that the bill is now headed to the state’s governor, Asa Hutchinson.