Things aren't looking great for Indiana and Gen Con, LLC.
Yesterday, CEO and Owner of Gen Con LLC Adrian Swartout issued another letter addressing updates to her original response to Indiana Governor Mike Pence regarding the recent passing of SB 101. In this letter, Swartout describes a phone call between Gen Con LLC and Governor Pence, and explains current plans for the future of Gen Con in Indiana.
"Indiana Governor Mike Pence took time to call and discuss Indiana's recently passed RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] law. Governor Pence has stated that he believes the outcry against this law is based upon a misunderstanding. We respectfully disagree with this position. A significant portion of Gen Con attendees identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and we are reading that some members of our community feel unsafe traveling to Indiana, subsequent to the passage of the RFRA law. We understand this sentiment, and will act to support safety."
Swartout also states that Gen Con 2015 will be held, as originally planned, at the Indiana Convention Center this July 30 through August 2, and that the Gen Con team is working with "the City of Indianapolis, local businesses, Visit Indy, and other grassroots organizations to ensure fair and safe treatment during this year's show."
"Gen Con has asked Governor Pence to support an amendment to RFRA that includes protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity." Swartout states
She goes on to state that,
"Gen Con has asked Governor Pence to support an amendment to RFRA that includes protections
against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We believe that freedom from discrimination is a fundamental human right. Until Gen Con has received legally sound assurances that Indiana will support these rights, we are halting our plans to expand Gen Con into Lucas Oil Stadium, and plans for further expansion into other hotel convention spaces."
Judging by both statements released by Gen Con LLC, it's obvious that Swartout and her team are serious about moving the convention out of Indiana in the future should a repeal or amendment of RFRA not be made.
Gen Con LLC has issued a letter to Indiana's Republican Governor Mike Pence over support of the controversial bill, SB 101. This "religious freedom" bill, which was passed earlier today, would effectively allow for legal protection of business owners who wish to refuse service to same-sex couples. In the letter written by Adrian Swartout, CEO and Owner of Gen Con LLC, it's made pretty clear that Gen Con is unhappy with the way this has played out.
According to Swartout, "Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds." It's obvious that they intend to keep welcoming their attendee base, as they well should, despite any decisions made about SB 101. What they don't intend to do, according to this letter, is take SB 101's passing lying down.
"Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years. We ask that you please reconsider your support of SB 101."
Gen Con is the largest annual convention at the Indianapolis Convention Center, providing an "estimated annual economic impact of more than $50 million dollars to the city". Last year, Gen Con brought "over 56,000 attendees from more than 40 different countries and all 50 states to the Indiana Convention Center."
That Gen Con has stepped up in defense of its attendees is a great sign of hope for all con-goers who believe that conventions have a responsibility to be welcoming for all attendees. It'll be interesting to see what response Gen Con's letter receives, due in part to the huge economic boost the convention provides for Indiana.