Indiana Restaurateurs Talk About the State’s New Revised Religious Freedom Law

The Religious Freedom law has been changed to reflect a strict anti-discrimination stance, but will it be enough?
Indiana Restaurateurs Talk the State’s New Revised Religious Freedom Law
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Local restaurateurs weigh in on the controversial bill.

The spotlight on Indiana continues this week as the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act is signed into law. Lawmakers have addressed the concerns of potential anti-LGBT discrimination that created an uproar nationwide and that caused one outspoken pizzeria to close. Governor Pence signed the bill with the promise that it would not allow businesses to refuse to serve members of the LGBT community or other minority groups, causing three states and multiple comedians to lift their travel/performance bans in the state. But is it enough? Indiana restaurateurs spoke with The Daily Meal about their opinions on the newly signed law.

Neal Brown, chef and owner of Pizzology Craft Pizza & Pub in Indianapolis, believes that the law will still have an effect on the restaurant community.

“We were very proactive in becoming part of the voice of the opposition to the bill. Two of our restaurants are in the heart of a predominantly gay community, and the mutual support has been overwhelming,” Brown said. “Time will tell, but there is an estimated $20 million of convention revenues that may or may not choose Indianapolis. The economic impact is very real, and would likely take years to repair.”

When asked about the revision to the law, Brown stated that it is not enough, and will not be enough until the LGBT community is a protected class. Joshua Gonzalez, owner of the Thunderbird, and a self-identified socially liberal Republican, has expressed relief that the bill has been revised.

“I was very concerned about the long-term financial implications for our city and I know the hospitality industry was very concerned about the potential loss of conventions and NCAA events,” Gonzalez told The Daily Meal. “Thankfully, the firestorm that erupted around the RFRA forced our state legislature and our governor to rewrite the law. The new language makes it clear that a business cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identification. I was very proud to see the number of Hoosiers who rallied in support of our LGBT community.”

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