From conventions to concerts, cancellations over RFRA begin

(Photo: AFSCME/Facebook)
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An October conference has become the first to pull out of Indianapolis due to controversy over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced Monday they are pulling their 2015 Women's Conference from the city in response to the legislation Governor Mike Pence signed into law last week. The conference was scheduled from October 9-11 at the JW Marriott.

"The 1.6 million members of AFSCME cannot in good conscience make such a sizable financial investment in Indiana knowing that women and men in that state are deliberately being targeted for discrimination," the organization said in a release.

The union offered no details about where they will move their conference, other than it will be in a different state.

"AFSCME is pulling our Women's Conference out of Indiana this fall as a sign of our disgust and disappointment with Governor Pence's discriminatory law," the release continued. "We stand with the ever-growing number of corporations and associations who are taking similar action this week, and demanding fairness for all in the state of Indiana."

"I think it's definitely hurting the city already if conventions are pulling out and people like the NCAA are making statements," Marla camp told Eyewitness News while she relaxed downtown.

Just before Marla pedaled past NCAA headquarters, the organization said RFRA could cause a re-thinking of its relationship with the city and state.

"Indianapolis is a preferred partner in heavy rotation for a lot of NCAA championships," UIndy sports marketing expert Larry DeGaris explained, and said NCAA could change that as plenty of other cities would love the Final Four.

And losing the games would not just mean lost tourist dollars downtown. He said NCAA playoffs bring business-to-business relationships that can become highly lucrative deals.

In an interview with NBC, NCAA President Mark Emmert called the law disturbing and disheartening.

He also indicated that it could impact the future of big-time college events Indiana.

"I and the Board of Governors who oversee the NCAA need to sit down and talk about what does this really mean? What are the real implications and what does that mean for the many events that we host here?," Emmert asked. "It's not just the final four. We do many things here and of course it's our home state for the national office. So we're gonna have to evaluate what that means and how we want to engage with the state going forward."

"One potential deal with a company like Apple would exceed all of the tax receipts, the hotels, the restaurants and the rental cars."

Monday afternoon, the first concert cancellation was announced, when Wilco posted that they were canceling their May 7 show at Old National Centre.

"The 'Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act' feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination to us. Hope to get back to the Hoosier State someday soon, when this odious measure is repealed," the band wrote on Facebook.

Wilco said refunds for the show are available at the point of purchase.

Monday night, Nick Offerman (known to many as "Ron Swanson" from NBC's "Parks and Recreation") and his wife Megan Mullally ("Karen" from NBC's "Will & Grace") announced on Twitter Monday night they were cancelling their summer comedy tour stop in Indiana scheduled for May 16 because of the RFRA.

A performance set for this Wednesday at Indiana University will still go on as planned, but Offerman tweeted that he would donate all proceeds from that event to the Human Rights Campaign.

Late word Monday night from GenCon. The groups will still hold its 2015 convention in Indianapolis this summer, but it has put on hold plans to expand into Lucas Oil Stadium. GenCon told Eyewitness News Governor Pence called the group Monday to assure them no one would be discriminated against, but they said they would not feel confident until those assurances were put into law.

Tuesday night, the center of protest moves south from Indianapolis to Bloomington. A protest is planned outside a Veterans Hall there where Governor Pence was originally slated to speak to Republicans. The governor has reportedly canceled that appearance.