Convention Organizer Threatens To Ditch Indiana Over Anti-Gay Bill

The organizer of what is reportedly the largest convention in Indianapolis is threatening to relocate if Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signs a controversial religious freedom bill, the Indianapolis Star is reporting.

The bill, which has already passed the state legislature and is expected to be signed by Pence soon, protects business owners from having to serve same-sex couples if they have religious objections.

The convention, Gen Con — which bills itself as the “largest consumer hobby, fantasy, science fiction and adventure game convention in North America” — has been held in Indianapolis since 2003. It hosts more than 50,000 attendees, and according to the Star, is Indianapolis’ “largest convention in attendance and economic impact.”

“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,” Adrian Swartout wrote in the letter to Pence dated Monday.

Gen Con may not leave Indiana immediately. The Star reports:

Gen Con is under contract to hold the conference in Indianapolis through 2020. Conference spokeswoman Stacia Kirby said there are no plans to break the contract. But the state’s adoption of the measure would factor into future decisions, she said.

The Gen Con letter to Pence concludes with a line in all bold that says “We ask that you please reconsider your support of SB 101.”

Pence’s office said he was unmoved.

“The Governor has been clear on where he stands on this issue and we don’t have anything to add at this time,” Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks said according to the Indianapolis Star.

Read the letter below:

Gen Con Statement Regarding SB101

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
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