Protests Of Final Four In Indianapolis Gain Steam As Gay Athletes Plan To Speak Out
The number of voices joining the protest against Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act has only continued to grow since Gov. Mike Pence signed it into law last week. With the NCAA men's basketball championship scheduled to be played in Indianapolis this weekend, a group of gay athletes are planning protests during the Final Four event in Indianapolis, ABC News reports. Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis and former NBA player Jason Collins are among the athletes planning to speak out, according to the ESPN/ABC \ podcast "Capital Games." Louganis said the law is contrary to his personal experience with residents of Indiana.
The reaction to the RFRA was swift, starting with a handful of companies like Salesforce and Apple canceling travel or otherwise condemning the law, and gay rights activists such as George Takei speaking out. To add insult to injury, on Tuesday Arkansas’s legislature passed a similar law. Critics say the bill, which essentially allows business owners to discriminate against customers if they have a strongly-held religious belief, is widely viewed as an anti-gay measure, despite Pence's claims to the contrary during a press conference Tuesday.
The in-person protest in Indianapolis is likely to attract plenty of national and international attention, so close to one of the largest sporting events in the U.S. The protestors say their goal is to see the tournament moved out of Indianapolis this weekend. And there's at least one online protest forming as well that goes a step further than just canceling this weekend's Final Four. A Moveon.org petition is calling for the NCAA to move its headquarters out of Indianapolis. It's already received more than 64,000 signatures.
While it's good to keep the pressure on organizations who do business in Indiana to show their opposition to the RFRA, will not watching the Final Four or boycotting a student athlete event have the intended effect? It's hard to say. But it's understandable that people want to demonstrate against the law, both the version in Indiana and the one now passed by Arkansas. It seems like the state capitols are the place to be for this kind of in-person demonstration, with thousands gathering last weekend for a protest in Indianapolis. And the backlash so far has at least compelled Pence to take another look at the law, even it it's only to stop the damage to Indiana's image.
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