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Gen Con responds after Indiana amends ‘Religious Freedom’ bill

Indiana’s Mike Pence recently signed into law changes to the state’s controversial “Religious Freedom” bill, effectively removing the recently-issued right to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens.

Pence, who said the original bill didn’t allow for discrimination, made the changes after a wave of companies and organisations declared they’d remove business from the state. One of those organisations was Gen Con LLC, who said they’d consider relocating the Gen Con convention due to the discriminatory nature of law.

“The freedom of religion for every Hoosier is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and in the Indiana Constitution,” Pence said of the changes via a statement on Facebook. “Last week the Indiana General Assembly passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act raising the judicial standard that would be used when government action intrudes upon the religious liberty of Hoosiers, and I was pleased to sign it.

“Over the past week this law has become a subject of great misunderstanding and controversy across our state and nation. However we got here, we are where we are, and it is important that our state take action to address the concerns that have been raised and move forward.”

Gen Con responded with a mailout titled “Diversity, RFRA, and inclusion at Gen Con”:

If you have watched or read the news over the past week, you have seen nationwide feedback on Indiana’s RFRA legislation. Gen Con’s CEO, Adrian Swartout, released a letter to the Governor of Indiana, preceding the legislation’s signing, as well as two follow-up letters to our community on gencon.com with the intent of sharing our thoughts with the public. Simply put, Gen Con believes that diversity and inclusion are key to the success of our convention as well as to the state of Indiana.

Today, Indiana’s General Assembly overwhelmingly passed an amendment to RFRA, signed by the Governor, that will remove RFRA’s risk of discrimination or refusal of service statewide. The amended law will reflect Indianapolis’ own longstanding human rights ordinance which includes protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With this amendment, no one can refuse you service under RFRA. Period.

We believe this is an important first step, but is just that, a first step.

The conversation on RFRA legislation has created a great dialog in Indiana, across the country, and at Gen Con itself. We know we always can do more to support diversity at our show, and are discussing some exciting new ways to increase our support for all attendees. Given the great response by Visit Indy, the Indy Chamber, Mayor Greg Ballard, and the businesses of Indianapolis, we believe that all attendees will continue to receive the warm response that we have enjoyed for more than a decade. We won’t stop pushing for more diversity and inclusiveness in Indiana, and we will include new concepts and partnerships into our preparations for Gen Con 2015.

Thank you for your feedback during this discussion! Many representatives from Indy also have asked us to express their gratitude to you for your overwhelming outreach and support. Your voice has been heard in Indiana, and Indy is excited to show you its appreciation for your support. We will continue to look for exciting new ways to improve Gen Con and our attendees’ experience.

What do you think of Gen Con’s response to the changes to the “Religious Freedom” bill?

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Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for close to fifteen years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.