The Indianapolis Star is holding Gov. Mike Pence (R) accountable for the state's controversial "religious freedom" law.
On Thursday, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses to discriminate against people by citing religious beliefs if they get sued. The LGBT community is often targeted by this type of discrimination.
Tuesday's bold front page features an editorial blasting Pence for signing the law, and urging him to fix the damage it has already done to the Hoosier State.
We are at a critical moment in Indiana's history.
And much is at stake.
Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.
Major companies, such as Apple, Walmart and Salesforce, have since announced they will boycott doing business in Indiana. Two states, Washington and Connecticut, said they will ban state-funded travel to Indiana.
The newspaper's editorial board is calling for the passage of a statewide human rights law that would protect the LGBT community and take a clear stand against discrimination. Indianapolis' Republican mayor Greg Ballard took similar measures on Monday by signing an executive order that forces businesses to abide by the city's human rights ordinance, which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation.
So far, the state's Republican leaders have defended the law and remained steadfast in saying it does not discriminate. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Pence said the law is "not a license to discriminate" and "simply reflects" federal legislation. Other state GOP leaders said they were "shocked" that their religious freedom law was seen as anti-gay, and that they simply didn't anticipate the backlash.
But Indy Star has a strong message for these political leaders:
We urge Gov. Pence and lawmakers to stop clinging to arguments about whether RFRA really does what critics fear; to stop clinging to ideology or personal preferences; to focus instead on fixing this.
Governor, Indiana is in a state of crisis. It is worse than you seem to understand.