In response to a growing firestorm surrounding a controversial religious freedom law in Indiana that critics say could allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers, some Hoosiers want the world to know that LGBT people are still welcome in the state.
The official tourism site for Indianapolis, Visit Indy, recently put up a huge banner inviting LGBT people to the city:
Clicking on Visit Indy's banner leads you to a three-day, LGBT-themed itinerary for a trip to Indianapolis, which the website claims is "a perfect plan for a three-day weekend." Activities include theater events, great restaurants, and a beautiful museum.
This could be part of a concerted effort to stave off the negative, potentially anti-LGBT image Indiana has built after LGBT advocates, celebrities, and businesses like Angie's List, Apple, and Yelp criticized the state once Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last Thursday, which prohibits governments from infringing on a person's religious beliefs without a compelling interest.
In a move to reduce the backlash, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, also signed an order on Monday reaffirming the city's commitment to protect LGBT people from discrimination.
Critics of the law, which goes into effect on July 1, say it could give more latitude for employers, landlords, and business owners to deny employment, housing, and service to LGBT people, even where there are local laws that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But legal experts generally doubt the law will lead to discrimination, citing decades of precedent in court battles over similar laws.