Study: Religious objections law costs state millions

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana may have lost as much as $60 million in hotel profits, tax revenue and other economic benefits when a dozen groups decided against hosting conventions in Indianapolis last year due at least in part to the controversy surrounding the state’s religious objections law.

A document prepared by the tourism group Visit Indy shows that the 12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere.

The Republican-backed law garnered quick and largely negative national backlash after it was signed by Gov. Mike Pence in March, with critics saying it sanctioned discrimination against gay people on religious grounds.

Lawmakers hastily made changes days later, after the NCAA, the gamer convention GenCon and other business interests raised the possibility of moving events, but critics said the law still doesn’t go far enough to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

The findings by Visit Indy are among the first to quantify the law’s financial effect, an impact that social conservatives have skeptically downplayed.

In an emailed statement Monday, Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks said Indiana was a “welcoming” state with a strong economy.
 

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