In conservative Indiana, bemusement amid boycott threats over religious … – Los Angeles Times

Indiana conservatives watched their brethren in state after state approve legislation that, supporters said, was crafted to ensure the religious rights of their citizens. Kansas in 2013, Mississippi in April, and, on Friday, Arkansas.

It is a mystery, then, to many here that a new hashtag has popped up on social media: #boycottindiana.

Criticism of new Indiana legislation as discriminatory against gays and lesbians erupted this weekend in a torrent of canceled construction, stalled convention plans and the specter of business leaving the state.

Social media focused its ire on the Indiana Statehouse after Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed into law far-reaching freedoms for religious beliefs, protecting those who say their beliefs forbid them from serving same-sex couples. It became the 20th state to pass such legislation and, for some reason, the first one with a target painted on its back for doing so.

“I don’t understand why Indiana is getting a bad reputation,” said Krissi Johnson, serving hot dogs at a community gathering inside the firehouse in Austin, southern Indiana. “It would make more sense if we were the only ones.”

Pence’s signature, delivered in a private ceremony Thursday, set off a quick series of denouncements from gay rights groups and politicians, even some Indiana Republicans, who question the fallout from the bill’s prohibition against “substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.”

On Saturday night, the Indianapolis Star reported that Pence was willing to support legislation to “clarify” that the law does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Calling the furor over the legislation “the deepest crisis of his political career,” the Star said Pence blamed the uproar on a “misunderstanding driven by misinformation.”

Earlier Saturday, thousands marched against the legislation in Indianapolis with signs that included “LIBERTY FOR ALL HOOSIERS.” Salesforce.com, based in San Francisco, said it would stop sending staff to meetings in Indianapolis. Businesses began posting window stickers pledging to serve everyone.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), headquartered in Indianapolis for nearly a century, said it may move its biennial convention, scheduled for 2017, out of the state.

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