Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law on Thursday a measure that allows businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of "religious freedom."The bill has sparked an uproar among gamers and church groups that hold their conventions in Indianapolis and businesses that are threatening to pull out of the city.
Even the NCAA -- which is less than two weeks from hosting its men's basketball Final Four in Indianapolis -- was critical, saying the organization is "committed to an inclusive environment where all individuals enjoy equal access to events" as it hinted the bill could damage the city's reputation as a host of major sporting events.
Jason Collins, who last year became the first openly gay active NBA player, asked Pence in a tweet whether it is "going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come" to the Final Four in two weeks.
Still, Pence signed it in a private ceremony in his office Thursday. In a statement explaining his decision, he pointed to President Barack Obama's health care law -- which triggered a lawsuit by Hobby Lobby to ensure the company wasn't required to cover birth control through its employees' health insurance plans.
"The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action," Pence said.