Tech industry's campaign to protect Indiana's LGBT community a success - RFRA fix agreed

Profile picture for user ddpreez By Derek du Preez April 2, 2015
Summary:
The revisions to Indiana's controversial RFRA will now protect those in the LGBT community from discrimination, thanks largely to pressure from CEOs like Marc Benioff at Salesforce.

 

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It's done. Those were the words tweeted by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff today, in response to Indiana Republicans finally agreeing a 'fix' to the state's bigoted Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which left those part of the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual community exposed to discrimination.

RFRA was designed in a way that allowed providers of services to turn away customers on the grounds of religious belief, meaning that business owners and landlords could effectively introduce 'no gays' policies.

Thankfully the technology industry, led by Marc Benioff at Salesforce, which has a base in Indiana, took it upon itself to take a stand against Governor Mike Pence's signing of the bill and began pulling funds and programs out of the region.

Benioff has even been offering employees that felt uncomfortable with RFRA relocation packages to other locations in the United States.

But at the end of a week-long campaign, Indiana Republican lawmakers have finally agreed revisions to the law that explicitly protect members of the LGBT community – despite still claiming that the original bill did not permit discrimination.

At a news conference on Thursday morning in the statehouse in Indianapolis, house speaker Brian Bosma said:

We are sorry that that misinterpretation hurt so many people. I think the national concerns that were raised, that we're all hearing about, are put to bed.

diginomica on news Rachel Maddow
diginomica's coverage of Indiana's RFRA has been featured on msnbc's Rachel Maddow show

And whilst the the U-Turn is a success, and was welcomed by the gay community, Indiana still has not introduced a law explicitly barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to the New York Times, the legislative leaders would not commit to considering such a provision, calling it a separate, more difficult issue, but conceded that a debate was now impossible to avoid.

However, the fix is good news and paves a path for other states that are looking to sign similar 'religious freedom' bills to reconsider. Only yesterday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was urged by Infor CEO to change his state's upcoming legislation. Hutchinson has since said that he will not be signing the bill in its current form and will be looking for revisions.

Georgia and North Carolina have put their bills on hold, but given the damage that has been done to Indianapolis and the pressure put on the state, it's hard to imagine that changes to protect the LGBT community won't be introduced.

My take

Fantastic news for LGBT people living in Indianapolis – or for any of its citizen that wants to live in a fair, equal, unprejudiced and democratic society, really. And well done to the technology industry for not taking the easy route and putting up a fight to get this change pushed through. It would have been very easy to turn a blind eye.

But I'll leave you with Marc Benioff's tweet that I think sums it up perfectly:

Disclosure: Salesforce and Infor are diginomica premier partners.

Image credit: Diversity Today