Gen Con Threatens to Leave Indiana Over Religious Freedoms Bill

Gen Con Threatens to Leave Indiana Over Religious Freedoms Bill

Indiana Governor Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence
The lawmakers in Indiana have passed a bill that they say would protect religious business owners from being forced to do business with individuals who are in opposition to their religious beliefs – essentially legally protecting business owners and their desire not to be involved in gay weddings.

Governor Mike Pence has taken a lot of heat from people for his stance on many important issues in the state recently. However, this newest bill has the largest, longest-running gaming convention, Gen Con, threatening to relocate their convention to another location outside of Indianapolis if Pence signs the bill into law. With 56,000 attendees last year alone, it is projected that Gen Con results in more than $50 million annually surrounding its yearly gathering at the Indiana Convention Center.

“Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years,” said Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Gov. Pence hours after Indiana lawmakers sent the measure to his desk.

However, Gen Con is under contract to hold the conference in Indiana through 2020, and Gen Con’s spokeswoman, Stacia Kirby, saus they have no plans to break the contract, so is this just throwing a hissy fit? Will they really follow through? I doubt it. How many times have we seen individuals say they hate America, conservatism, and a certain political principal, threaten to leave a certain area (or the whole country), but never do so? Indianapolis is a beautiful city with a central location to so many in the Midwest and East Coast.

“Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds,” Swartout wrote. “WE are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.”

Interesting. Basically she is saying that they welcome all people, but does she really mean that? What if one of the Christians (because let’s be honest – that is who this is really about) wanted to attend and set up a booth at the Gen Con convention? Something tells me they would not be welcomed with the same enthusiasm.

Listen, this isn’t about hate. We’ve come to a point in our culture where we have been so concerned about being inclusive of all identities, ideologies, and beliefs that states like Indiana feel as though they have to protect their religious business owners from being forced to defy their own beliefs.

Under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal government only prohibited discrimination by privately owned businesses on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin – not sexual orientation, and Indiana isn’t a state (like California and New York) that has any law in place to prevent business owners from refusing service to homosexuals.

Personally, as a tax payer in Indiana and an owner of an online boutique, I don’t think it makes economic sense to pass this bill. Let’s be quite frank: the Supreme Court will probably step in and repeal said bill eventually, and as a Christian, I don’t think this really paints the picture that Jesus would want of Himself. I also understand the urge to protect one’s business, though, from being sued by some overzealous individual who believes that he or she has been in some way disrespected.

If someone doesn’t want my business because I am a white, conservative Conservative, then I wouldn’t want to give them my money anyway, and that is as far as it goes for me. I don’t need lawmakers to step in and spend tax payer dollars to get involved.

Nineteen other states have a bill like Senate Bill 101, including Indiana’s neighbor Illinois, and Indiana Gov. Pence has said that he will sign it as soon as possible.

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