A new study, as reported in the Associated Press on January 26th, strengthens the case Indiana Competes as been making since we launched: Discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers is an economic issue.
The report highlighted the $60 million that was lost in economic opportunity for Indianapolis, after the March 2015 passage of the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA), led many as many as 12 conventions not to host their events in our state.
Indiana Competes Initiative Manager Peter Hanscom noted, “The $60 million lost in economic activity has a direct impact on more than 75,000 Hoosiers who make up the Indianapolis hospitality industry.”
In a statement to the press, he also asked, “For every lost convention that officials in Indianapolis have been able to track, how many other lost opportunities around the state can be attributed to the inability of our legislative leaders to do what’s necessary to end legal discrimination against the LGBT community?”
And this issue goes far beyond Indianapolis, too. Last week, Indiana Competes released an analysis of 2015 economic investment and job creation numbers from across the state indicating that the overwhelming majority of tracked economic investment since April of 2015 is located in communities with human rights ordinances (HROs) that ensure protection from legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (based on announcements from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation).
Now, some lawmakers are considering passing yet another RFRA-style law, which doubles down on the same ideas that got us here in the first place instead of protecting LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination. Indiana’s economy simply cannot afford to replay the backlash that resulted from last year’s misguided legislation.
As lawmakers take their first votes on this new and misguided proposal for RFRA 2.0 on Wednesday, our coalition of 425+ Indiana businesses called on them to do the right thing – to protect all Hoosiers from discrimination and help grow our economy.
“The time is now for decisive action to be taken – lawmakers should take every step necessary to protect our state from severe economic harm by passing a bill showing that Indiana is a welcoming state where discrimination of any kind is illegal,” he said.