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Angie's List Halts Expansion Plans to Protest Indiana's 'Religious Freedom' Law

Angie's List joins others protesting the new law, which some fear would open the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Angie's List

Angie’s List has joined a growing number of companies to protest a new law in Indiana that critics say could open the door to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Indianapolis company said it would put a planned expansion of its campus on hold in the wake of passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The business ratings service said it needs to evaluate the implications of the law for its current and future employees.

“Angie’s List is open to all and discriminates against none and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents,” Chief Executive Bill Oesterle said in a statement Saturday.

Angie’s List is one of several companies criticizing the new law, which allows companies or individuals to refuse actions that impose a “substantial burden” on their religious beliefs. Thousands of people gathered Saturday to protest the law’s passage.

Proponents say the law would allow bakers, florists and photographers to avoid being sued for refusing to participate in a gay marriage on the basis of their religious beliefs. However, the law has been widely denounced by technology and political leaders and others, who said the law would lead to discrimination of gays and lesbians.

Separately, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said he is planning to ratchet up the pressure he unleashed via Twitter and Facebook on Thursday when he announced that his cloud software company would cancel all events and programs that would require the company to travel to Indiana and face discrimination.

“I’m not ready to roll out anything yet, but I am working on stuff,” Benioff said in a phone interview with Re/code. One possible course of action, he said, might include offering financial assistance to any Salesforce employees who want to move out of Indiana.

ExactTarget, a Salesforce subsidiary, is based in Indianapolis and employs between 2,000 and 3,000 people there, making it the state’s largest technology-based employer. An annual ExactTarget conference in Indianapolis last year drew about 10,000 people. “We need to make clear that there are economic consequences to bad policy decisions,” he said. “I’m just trying to protect my employees.”

https://twitter.com/Benioff/status/581968039249235968

Benioff has posted or retweeted more than 100 times about the subject since the governor signed the bill into law, applauding celebrities (Miley Cyrus, Ashton Kutcher), politicians (Hillary Clinton) and other technology leaders (Apple’s Tim Cook, Affirm CEO Max Levchin and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman) for taking a stand in opposition.

Cook, who came out last year as gay, has been a strong proponent of equal rights. He criticized the new Indiana law, and said that Apple is committed to treating every customer the same — regardless of where they come from, how they worship or who they love.

https://twitter.com/tim_cook/status/581515209409310720

Yelp Chief Executive Jeremy Stoppelman wrote an open letter to states contemplating discrimination laws that such legislation sets a terrible precedent that will harm its economic climate — as well as its citizens.

“Yelp will make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination on the books,” Stoppelman wrote in his letter. “I also hope that other companies will draw a similar line in the sand for equality on behalf of their employees and the greater public to persuade legislators to do the right thing and stop or rescind these harmful laws.”

Mike Olson, CEO chairman and chief strategy officer of Cloudera, the big-data software company backed by Intel, confirmed in an email to Re/code that the company has pulled out of the Indy Big Data Conference scheduled for May 7 in Indianapolis. CTO Amr Awadallah had been scheduled to deliver a keynote. Other sponsors of the event include Oracle, EMC and Amazon Web Services.

Box CEO Aaron Levie tweeted that what he called “normal businesses” in Indiana will have to advertise that they “serve all customers,” which he called “a ridiculous concept.”

https://twitter.com/levie/status/581974110416211968

Update: Corrected Olson’s title at Cloudera. He had been its CEO for five years.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.