In a letter to Gov. Mike Pence (R) and state Republican leaders on Monday, the CEOs of nine different large companies headquartered in Indiana expressed concern that the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act would lead to discrimination against employees.
The law would allow corporations or private citizens to cite their religious beliefs as a defense if they are sued, which many say would make discrimination against LGBT individuals permissible. While Pence has said that the intent of the law was not to discriminate, the CEOs said on Monday that intent was not relevant.
"Regardless of the original intention of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, we are deeply concerned about the impact it is having on our employees and on the reputation of our state," the executives, which included leaders from Angie's List and Eli Lilly, wrote in the letter. "All of our companies seek to promote fair, diverse and inclusive workplaces. Our employees must not feel unwelcome in the place where they work and live."
The executives urged Pence and the legislative leaders to immediately pass new legislation that would clarify that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be used to justify discrimination based on gender and sexual identity. Pence has said that legislators would clarify the law, but the governor has also indicated that he is not interested in providing specific protections for gay and lesbian individuals in his state.
On Monday, the mayor of Indianapolis signed an executive order reaffirming that groups doing business with the city must abide by its Human Rights Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals. Many of the companies whose executives signed the letter to Pence and Republican leaders on Monday are headquartered in Indianapolis.
Several corporations have condemned the Indiana law, including Apple and Yelp. Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy (D) signed an executive order on Monday banning travel to Indiana on Monday, joining the mayors of Seattle and San Francisco, who have imposed similar bans.
Indiana Republicans leaders have said that they were "shocked" at the backlash over the bill.
Read the full letter below: