Indiana's Anti-Gay Law Prompts Thousands Of Businesses To Stand Up For Diversity

A window sticker on a downtown Indianapolis business, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, shows its objection to the Religious Freedom
A window sticker on a downtown Indianapolis business, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, shows its objection to the Religious Freedom bill passed by the Indiana legislature. Organizers of a major gamers' convention and a large church gathering say they're considering moving events from Indianapolis over a bill that critics say could legalize discrimination against gays. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Indiana's controversial "religious freedom" bill was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence last Thursday, but one grassroots campaign promoting inclusion is growing in its aftermath -- and rapidly.

Open For Service, an initiative aimed at supporting "businesses that open their doors for everyone -- black, white, gay, straight, Christian, atheist, disabled," is selling stickers to businesses so they can display their stance against discrimination for the public to see. Participating businesses also get their name placed into an online business directory accessible to consumers.

Since the campaign's March 11 launch, 3,121 businesses have signed up to be included in the directory and purchased a $10 sticker -- which reads, "this business serves everyone" -- a representative of Open For Service told The Huffington Post in an email.

I am still playing catch-up from everything that is happening,” Josh Driver, the Indianapolis-based philanthropist behind the initiative, told NUVO News of the campaign's quick growth.

Some lovely people “shop hopping” at #openforservice businesses #love #support #wewelcomeall

Posted by Open For Service on Saturday, March 28, 2015

In a statement provided to HuffPost, Driver said he wanted to launch the campaign because he thought the media was focusing too much on businesses that have turned people away based on who they are, and he wants to "bring positivity back, and promote those who believe in an ‘open door economy.’"

Funds raised through the campaign's sticker sales are going toward Score -- a nonprofit that helps other "open-minded businesses and organizations" get off the ground.

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act has drawn criticism from across the country over its alleged enabling of businesses to discriminate against customers. However, Gov. Pence -- who said he would back legislation that "[clarifies] the intent" of the law -- told The Indianapolis Star its passing wasn't about legalizing discrimination.

"If it was, I would have vetoed it," he said.

But Indiana's reputation may have already been damaged, causing long-term economic repercussions, according to one economist.

Kyle Anderson of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business told The Indianapolis Star that negative perceptions of the state could linger far into the future, affecting tourism and potential economic investments.

"It doesn't take you long to get into the hundreds of millions of dollars," he said of Indiana's potential economic losses due to the law. "Some of those decisions can really be long-lasting."

Driver, on the other hand, hopes business booms for organizations that choose inclusion.

People have been asking for it,” Driver told NUVO News of the initiative’s business directory. “And, in general, [people] have been asking for it for a long time: 'Well, if this business is discriminating, I want to know where these other businesses are that won’t.'”

Learn more about the Open For Service campaign here.



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