Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) did it. On Thursday, he signed a controversial religious freedom bill into law that protects business owners from being required to serve same-sex couples if they have religious objections.
Pence said signing the bill into law makes sure that “religious liberty” is completely protected in the state.
“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said in a statement.
A number of businesses strongly voiced opposition to the law. The large tabletop gaming convention Gen Con threatened to leave the state if Pence the bill, but is locked into a contract until 2020. Star Trek actor George Takei also warned that the law could result in a damaging boycott of the state.
On Wednesday, leaders from the Disciples of Christ church said that if the bill was signed into law the church could possibly move its planned 6,000 person General Assembly meeting in Indianapolis to another location.
Just a week before the NCAA’s March Madness Final Four games in downtown Indianapolis, the NCAA released a statement saying it was “examining the details” of the bill.” The statement did not condemn the legislation but it did say that it was for “an inclusive environment where all individuals enjoy equal access to events.”
Nineteen other states have similar laws to Indiana’s new religious freedom bill.