In the midst of a national firestorm over a new law in Indiana that allows businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians on religious grounds, Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) not only denounces the law, but she invites all businesses that are now balking at Indiana expansion to consider freedom-embracing Rhode Island instead.
“While the Indiana governor and lawmakers are waging a war against freedom with their regressive legislation, many businesses, entertainers and organizations are thinking twice about visiting or expanding in Indiana because of this ill-advised law,” said Senator Nesselbush. “I’d like to invite them all to free Rhode Island, a place that’s been steadily and increasingly embracing freedom and tolerance since 1636. Ever since Roger Williams was tossed out of Massachusetts, this state has been a haven for freedom-lovers. We not only embrace tolerance — we were founded based on it.”
Since the moment the bill was signed into law, Indiana has been met with harsh criticism, including companies refusing to do business in the state and organizations cancelling conferences and conventions in Indiana.
Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle is canceling plans for a $40 million expansion because he’s opposed to the law. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff announced on Twitter that the company won’t send employees or customers to Indiana.
Public employee union AFSCME announced that it will move its October conference for women out of Indianapolis, making it the first convention to pull out of the city because of objections to the law.
“It’s too bad that the NCAA Tournament is taking place in Indiana; they don’t deserve that economic boon at the same time they are authorizing their businesses to discriminate,” said Senator Nesselbush.
“My heart goes out to all gay and lesbian Hoosiers who may become victims of this law,” said Senator Nesselbush. “They should know there’s a place where we’ve been perfecting the craft of inclusiveness and acceptance for more than 350 years. Why spend your money and pay your taxes in a state that has enacted backward laws like this one? Come to Rhode Island, a state that has embraced marriage equality without advancing discrimination in the name of religion. In Rhode Island, we practice religious liberty without trampling on civil rights.”
Many organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights group in the country, have demanded that the law be changed to guarantee civil rights.