Hollywood Stars Condemn Mike Pence for Signing Religious Objections Bill

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

A number of Hollywood celebrities have taken aim at Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after the governor signed a religious objections bill into state law on Thursday.

Miley Cyrus, Ashton Kutcher, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and Broadway star Audra McDonald were among those who took to social media Thursday to decry Gov. Pence’s signing of Senate Bill 101, which forbids both the state and federal government from limiting a persons’ ability to exercise their religion. Critics say the law will allow Indiana businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

“You’re an a**hole @govpenceIN,” Miley Cyrus wrote on Instagram Thursday. “The only place that has more idiots that [sic] Instagram is in politics.”

“Indiana are you also going to allow Christian establishments to ban Jews from coming in?” tweeted Ashton Kutcher. “Or vice versa? Religious freedom??? #OUTRAGE.”

A number of celebrities and organizations promised to boycott the state in response to the Governor’s signing of the law. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wrote that his company was “canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination,” while the NCAA issued a lengthy statement of its own:

The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.

Legendary Star Trek actor George Takei had promised to boycott Indiana if the law passed, and urged his online followers to avoid attending video game convention GenCon, the largest annual convention in the state.

“To the governor and to the legislators in Indiana who support this backward-looking and divisive bill, I say to you this: If it goes into effect, Indiana will be marked as a state where certain people are not welcome, and so we will not visit,” Takei wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “We will not spend. And we will not attend events, including GenCon, the world’s largest gaming convention, held in Indianapolis each year. Many fans here are gamers, Governor Pence, and we will demand the convention move out of your state.”

Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of GenCon, issued a similar statement: “Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.”

The convention is reportedly under contract to remain in Indiana until 2020, and a GenCon spokeswoman told the Indianapolis Star that it will honor its contract. However, she said the law’s passage will “factor into future decisions.”

Broadway actress Audra McDonald was particularly forceful in her criticism, suggesting she would “donate the money I make in your state while Im there to organizations that will combat your hateful legislation.”

“@GovpenceIN, some in my band are gay & we have 2 gigs in your state next month,” McDonald tweeted. “Should we call ahead to make sure the hotel accepts us all?”

Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black added his own criticism: “A sad day for all in #INDIANA. Gov. Pence, you did not lead today. You were not courageous.”

Gov. Pence, who is reportedly considering a bid for the presidency in 2016, defended his signing of the law, telling reporters the bill was “not about discrimination.”

“There has been a lot of misunderstanding about this bill,” Pence said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would’ve vetoed it.”


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