Indiana Uproar: Wall Street Weighs In on RFRA

Apple Inc. (AAPL), Salesforce.com, inc. (CRM), and Angie's List Inc (ANGI) are just a few corporations taking a stance on Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act

by Karee Venema

Published on Apr 1, 2015 at 10:49 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

Indiana Governor Mike Pence passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) last week, granting businesses legal recourse for refusing service to individuals on the basis of religious beliefs. While Pence and advocates of the bill insist it is designed to protect religious freedoms, and is not discriminatory in nature, that conviction is being countered by many corporations that are either located in the state or do business there. While a similar law in Arkansas was approved by lawmakers yesterday -- a move Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is urging Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto -- here's a brief, but non-exhaustive, roundup of feedback given from those ranging from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to NASCAR to the state of Connecticut.

  • AAPL CEO Tim Cook wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post detailing the company's opposition to Indiana's new law. Specifically, Cook wants to pass along the message that Apple is "in business to empower and enrich our customers' lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That's why, on behalf of Apple, I'm standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation -- wherever it emerges … Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love."

  • Salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) CEO Marc Benioff has been active on Twitter expressing his disdain for the new Indiana law, including suspending all corporate events scheduled in the state:

  • Indianapolis-based Angie's List Inc (NASDAQ:ANGI) has canceled plans for a $40 million expansion in the city, which was projected to create roughly 1,000 jobs. As CEO Bill Oesterle said, "We believe that what that bill does to our efforts to recruit good talent into Indiana is significant. We're unwilling to engage in an economic development agreement that is contingent on us hiring people in when [sic] the state is sending a message out to potential employees that is not always palatable."

  • Elsewhere, Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS), Yelp Inc (NYSE:YELP), and Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY) are among many other publicly traded companies weighing in on the controversial legislation.

  • In the sports world, Indianapolis is home to the NCAA. The organization will host the 2015 Men's Final Four this weekend. With respect to holding future events in the city, NCAA President Mark Emmert said, "We're going to have to sit down and make judgments about whether or not (the RFRA) changes the environment for us doing our work, and us holding events. We're deeply committed to the whole notion of inclusion. We have a very diverse membership. We value that very, very highly. We've got to work in and we've got to host our events in an environment that makes that possible."

  • Meanwhile, NASCAR -- which is slated to hold its annual Indianapolis 500 race on Sunday, May 24 -- expressed its concern with RFRA. "We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race."

  • Finally, many city governments throughout the U.S. are also reacting to Indiana's new law. Specifically, mayors in Denver, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, and Seattle have all blocked official travel to the state. Additionally, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned state-funded travel via an executive order.

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