In a sharp response to the “religious freedom” bill signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack released a statement this evening encouraging Indiana businesses to move to Iowa, citing “a more welcoming community.”
“Iowa has long been on the forefront of expanding civil rights, not denying them,” Leobsack said in a statement. “It was disheartening to see Indiana Governor Pence sign into law a piece of legislation that could lead to businesses being allowed to discriminate against the LGBT community.”
Loebsack added, “This type of action should not be allowed in today’s society.”
Read the full release via Loebsack:
Congressman Dave Loebsack today called on companies in Indiana, or businesses who were looking to move to Indiana, to take a look at basing their companies in Iowa. Loebsack noted Iowa’s history of leading the fight for increased civil rights, whether it is based on race, gender or sexual orientation. Nearly six years ago, Iowa became the third state in the nation to grant marriage equality for everyone and has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and education since 2007.
“Iowa has long been on the forefront of expanding civil rights, not denying them. It was disheartening to see Indiana Governor Pence sign into law a piece of legislation that could lead to businesses being allowed to discriminate against the LGBT community. This type of action should not be allowed in today’s society. I invite any business located in Indiana looking for a more welcoming community to take a look at Iowa. We have some of the best schools in the nation, many hardworking men and women, and an attitude known as ‘Iowa Nice.’ Iowans welcome anyone to live, work and raise a family in our great state.”
The law, dubbed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, has garnered widespread criticism from those who say it could allow businesses — citing religious ideology — to discriminate against LGBT groups. Pence says this is not the law’s intent, noting that an effort is underway to clarify the law. However, when asked if new legislation would seek to make gay and lesbian residents a protected legal class, Pence told The Indianapolis Star, “That’s not on my agenda.”
Regardless, some damage has already been done.
Last week, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced that the company would no longer hold events in Indiana due to the law. Angie’s List, based in Indianapolis, announced that it will no longer move forward on a $40 million Indiana headquarters expansion. Apple CEO Tim Cook, meanwhile, blasted the law in a letter published Sunday by the Washington Post.
Entertainers have decided to forego the Hoosier state as well, with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy announcing today that the band has canceled its May 7 show in Indianapolis.
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.
Earlier this evening, Indiana’s largest newspaper — the The Indianapolis Star — published a strongly worded editorial calling upon Pence to fix the law “now.”