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Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaks during the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting Leadership Forum on April 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (John Gress/Getty Images)

Indiana Enacts ‘Religious Liberty’ Law; Could Legalize Discrimination Against Gay People, Opponents Say

NDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence vigorously defended the state religious objections bill that he signed into law Thursday as businesses and organizations including the NCAA pressed concerns that it could open the door to legalizing discrimination against gay people.
The state became the first to enact such a change this year among about a dozen where such proposals have been introduced. Arkansas’ governor said Thursday he supported a similar bill that’s advancing in that state’s Legislature.
Pence, a Republican mulling a possible 2016 presidential campaign, signed the bill privately in his office with at least a couple dozen supporters on hand. He later met with reporters and refuted arguments from opponents that law would threaten civil rights laws by saying that hasn’t happened under the federal religious freedom law Congress passed in 1993 and similar laws in 19 other states.
“There has been a lot of misunderstanding about this bill,” Pence said. “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would’ve vetoed it.”
Those arguments didn’t satisfy opponents who worry the law, which will take effect in July, presents Indiana as unwelcoming and could give legal cover to businesses that don’t want to provide services to gays and lesbians.
National gay-rights consider the Indiana bill among the most sweeping of similar state proposals introduced as conservatives brace for a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
The Washington-based Human Rights Campaign said Indiana lawmakers “have sent a dangerous and discriminatory message.”
“They’ve basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it’s OK to discriminate against people despite what the law says,” said Sarah Warbelow, the group’s legal director.
The Indianapolis-based NCAA, which is holding its men’s basketball Final Four in the city next weekend, said in a statement it was concerned about the legislation and was examining how it might affect future events and its workforce.
“We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in the statement. “Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”
Soon after Pence signed the bill, Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff announced on Twitter that he was canceling all programs that require its customers or employees “to travel to Indiana to face discrimination.”
The San Francisco-based company bought Indianapolis-based marketing software company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in 2013 and has kept hundreds of employees in the city. A company spokeswoman declined to elaborate on Benioff’s statement.
Conservative groups backing the bill have said it merely seeks to prevent the government from compelling people to provide such things as catering or photography for same-sex weddings or other activities they find objectionable on religious grounds.
Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter praised the new law, saying it would give abortion opponents legal recourse if they are pressured to support the procedure. The organization circulated an online petition to thank Pence for signing the bill.
At least two groups — the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and gamers’ convention organizer Gen Con — have said they would reconsider plans to events in Indianapolis because of the legislation.
Pence pointed out that President Barack Obama voted in favor of a similar state law while he was an Illinois legislator. But when Pence was asked whether he would support matching Illinois by adding sexual orientation to the state’s civil rights law, he responded: “That’s not on my agenda. I won’t be pursuing that.”

03/26/2015

TJ Miller hosts the TechCrunch 8th Annual Crunchies Awards at the Davies Symphony Hall on February 5, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Did ‘Silicon Valley’ Star TJ Miller Turn The 8th Annual Crunchies Awards Into Cringe-Fest?

The audience didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or cringe at the 8th Annual Crunchies Awards Thursday night, at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall.

02/06/2015

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote address during the 2014 DreamForce conference on October 14, 2014 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton Addresses ‘Word Gap’ Among Low-Income Kids At Dreamforce, Brushes Off 2016 Talk

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday the nation needs to close a “word gap” between low-income children and their more affluent peers.

10/14/2014

(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

$100M Donated To San Francisco Hospital For Research To Cut Premature Births

A San Francisco hospital will use a $100 million gift to focus on premature birth around the globe.

04/24/2014

Model of the Transbay Tower, to be named after Salesforce.com. (CBS)

Salesforce To Anchor 61-Story Transbay Tower In San Francisco; Tallest West Coast Building

A high-rise building under construction in San Francisco will be named for Salesforce.com and is expected to be the tallest building on the West Coast according to company officials who made an announcement Friday.

04/11/2014

Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Salesforce.com CEO Urges Tech Firms To Give More As Company Marks 15 Years

Thousands crowded San Francisco’s waterfront on Friday, as Salesforce.com celebrated its 15th anniversary. Behind the celebration is a serious goal: fighting poverty.

03/07/2014

(Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images)

San Francisco Middle Schools Receive $2.7M Donation From Salesforce CEO

The CEO of Salesforce.com visited a San Francisco school on Monday to highlight a $2.7 million donation by his company to the city’s middle schools that will include 750 iPads.

10/07/2013

(CBS)

San Francisco’s Salesforce.com Buying Buddy Media In $689M Deal

Salesforce.com Inc. is buying the marketing company Buddy Media for $689 million in a deal that underscores the growth in both social media and the delivery of software over the Internet.

06/04/2012

People walk by a homeless man. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Salesforce Pitches In To Help San Francisco Homeless Families

The grant, given to the city by Marc and Lynne Benioff of salesforce.com, is targeting dozens of families who have children in public schools and who the city hopes to provide housing for before the holidays.

12/12/2011

An artist's rendering of the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay complex. (UCSF)

Rock Stars Team Up For UCSF’s New Mission Bay Hospital Complex

Construction was slated to begin Monday on the new UCSF Women’s Children’s and Cancer Hospital at Mission Bay. However, the university still had the daunting task of raising hundreds of millions of dollars to build the new complex.

CONNECT WITH KCBS–12/06/2010

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