Last updated: 10:54 AM ET, Fri March 27 2015

Indiana's 'Religious Beliefs' Law Impacting Travel to the Hoosier State

Business Travel | Patrick Clarke | March 27, 2015

Indiana's 'Religious Beliefs' Law Impacting Travel to the Hoosier State

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

As the polarizing debate over religious freedom and gay rights heats up in the Midwest, California-based travel research website Gogobot, a popular tool among both business and leisure travelers, has set out to warn travelers.

In the wake of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signing a controversial bill into law on Thursday, legislation some feel could lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians, Gogobot has updated its Indiana destination pages with the following notice:

"Note: Gogobot is a company that supports equal rights for all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. If you are traveling to Indiana or intend to travel to Indiana you should know that on March 26, 2015, the Governor of Indiana signed the religious objections bill into law. Critics of this law say that it may legalize discrimination against travelers due to their sexual orientation."

The notice will not only appear on the website's Indiana state destination page, but more than 400 of its Indiana city destination pages. 

But Gogobot wasn't alone in issuing a response.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced on Twitter on Thursday that the company would be cancelling all programs tied to the state:

The law, which is set to take effect on July 1, is designed to prohibit both state and local governments from "substantially burdening a person's ability to exercise their religion—unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it," according to Tony Cook of the Indianapolis Star.

While the bill doesn't blatantly legalize discrimination, opponents and those speaking out like Benioff believe it frees up business owners to cite religious reasons for potentially discriminating against gays, lesbians and others. 

However, Pence disagrees. "This bill is not about discrimination," said Pence. "And if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it."

It remains to be seen what impact the new legislation will have on Indiana's travel and tourism industry, but whatever impact is experienced seems likely to be negative. 

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