The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has decided to relocate its 2015 National Women’s Conference “as a direct result” of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signing a controversial religious freedom bill into law.
AFSCME’s decision to pull out of Indianapolis, Indiana, where it was scheduled to host its conference in October, was announced by AFSCME President Lee Saunders (pictured) on Monday.
“This un-American law allowing businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers sets Indiana and our nation back decades in the struggle for civil rights,” Saunders said in a statement. “It is an embarrassment and cannot be tolerated. The 1.6 million members of AFSCME cannot in good conscience make such a sizeable financial investment in Indiana knowing that women and men in that state are deliberately being targeted for discrimination.”
A number of major businesses and national figures have criticized the law. Just before Pence signed it, the popular tabletop convention Gen Con threatened to relocate. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the science fiction convention Dragon Con warned that it could move out of the state if Georgia’s legislature moved forward with similar legislation.
The National College Athletic Association, which hosts its Final Four March Madness games in Indianapolis, said it was “especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees.”
Saunders added that the conference would be relocated as “a sign of our disgust and disappointment with Pence’s discriminatory law.”