Dates Yanked Over Indiana Law

Indiana is getting criticism from many in the world of entertainment and sports over the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The bill, signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on March 26, notes the government cannot infringe upon the religious beliefs of any individual, religious organization or company, which some say could pave the way for legal discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens. The act also allows people to defend themselves against criminal or civil actions on the basis of their exercise of religion.

Wilco took a stand against the law March 30, announcing via Twitter that the band was pulling the plug on an upcoming Indianapolis tour date.

“We’re canceling our 5/7 show in Indianapolis,” the band wrote. “‘Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination. Hope to get back to the Hoosier State someday soon, when this odious measure is repealed,” Wilco added. “Refunds available at point of purchase.”

Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly canceled a May 16 date in Indianapolis, and Offerman called out Pence personally via Twitter, writing, “Congrats @GovPenceIN. WE ARE CANCELING Indiana Summer of 69 tour 5/16. I WILL PLAY @IndianaUniv this Weds and donate my $ to [Human Rights Campaign]. #Usuck.”

Actress and singer Audra McDonald, who has an April 25 tour stop scheduled in Indianapolis, also got in on the action.

“Some in my band are gay & we have 2 gigs in your state next month. Should we call ahead to make sure the hotel accepts us all?” she tweeted to Gov. Pence. “Or could you maybe send us a list of where it’s okay for us to go? Or MAYBE…we need to stick to singing in states that don’t legislate hate?” McDonald wrote.

Meanwhile in the sporting world, NBA great Charles Barkley called for the removal of major events from Indiana in a statement to USA Today.

“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” said Barkley. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Final Four tournament is scheduled April 4-6 at  in Indianapolis. The organization appeared set on staying put for this year’s event at press time, but did express concern over the law. President Mark Emmert announced in a statement that NCAA is “deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events.

“We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees,” he said. “We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”

Following the backlash, Pence announced during a press conference that he’d “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. … I think it would be helpful and I’d like to see on my desk before the end of this week legislation that is added to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that makes it clear that this law does not deny services against anyone.

“We want to make it clear that Indiana’s open for business,” Pence added. “We want to make it clear that Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan, it’s a way of life.”