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article imageAnti-gay law prompts Angie's List to halt $40 million expansion

By Megan Hamilton     Mar 29, 2015 in Politics
Indianapolis - Citing a controversial law recently signed into legislation, Angie's List announced on Saturday that it has suspended the planned expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) makes it legal for businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians for religious reasons, Mashable reports.
"Angie's List is open to all and discriminates against none and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents," said Bill Oesterle, Angie's List CEO, in a statement.
The company reports over three million paid subscribers and had planned the $40 million expansion project to begin within the next few days. The expansion would have included the purchase of a former Ford assembly plant and would potentially have added 1,000 jobs over the next five years.
However, Angie's List has said the company will not proceed until it can "fully understand" how the law might affect employees, Mashable reports.
In a statement, the company added it "will begin reviewing alternatives for the expansion of its headquarters immediately," The New Civil Rights Movement reports.
Oesterle has said that the RFRA was non-inclusive and would make it more difficult for companies in Indiana to attract top talent.
Via the IndyStar, The New Civil Rights Movement reports that Oesterle is well-known in business and Republican circles, and adds that he was former Governor Mitch Daniels' campaign manager in 2004.
Supporters of the RFRA say the legislation will prevent the government from forcing business owners to act against their own religious beliefs, but opponents say the law is discriminatory against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and that it's also broader than other religious freedom laws in other states, The Huffington Post reports.
Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook, who is openly gay and one of the most prominent American CEOs, joined other executives, including Marc Benioff, of Salesforce.com, and blasted the Indiana law.
Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp CEO wrote an open letter on the topic, Mashable reports.
"I encourage states that are considering passing laws like the one rejected by Arizona or adopted by Indiana to reconsider and abandon these discriminatory actions, he wrote.
The law has polarized Indiana residents, and nearly 3,000 gay rights activists, religious groups, and city council members gathered at Indianapolis' Monument Circle on Saturday, where they marched in protest of the RFRA.
"'The people united will never be defeated!'" Chants heard as rally heads to statehouse #AntiRFRA, Eric Cox wrote on his Twitter feed.
Some, however, question Angie's List for the stance it's taken. One person in Philadelphia tweeted that he'd emailed the company on Saturday to let them know he was disappointed.
"I sent an email to @AngiesList asking them to explain themselves before I cancel and a Twitter campaign against them," wrote Chris on his Twitter feed.
The Human Rights Campaign reports that the RFMA joins more than 85 bills in 28 states introduced by lawmakers during the 2015 legislative session that penalize people in the LGBT community, Mashable reports.
Angie's List's decision to suspend its investment in Indiana is part of a huge and steamrolling negative response from businesses and a host of other enterprises that do business or are based in Indiana, The Huffington Post reports. Individuals and other entities in the public eye are also taking up the fight, including The White House, $50 million annual gaming convention Gen Con, Eli Lilly and Co., Hillary Clinton, George Takei, Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus, the Mayor of Indianapolis, and the state's own Indiana tourism board, The Huffington Post reports.
Note: Pence remains defiant as he and George Stephanopoulos duke it out here:
More about angie's list, the white house, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, rfra, Bill Oesterle
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