The NBA and the Indiana Pacers released a joint statement on Saturday in regard to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was recently signed into law in Indiana.
The official release:
“The game of basketball is grounded in long established principles of inclusion and mutual respect. We will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome at all NBA and WNBA events in Indiana and elsewhere.”
Additionally, Pacers owner Herb Simon stated:
“The Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and Bankers Life Fieldhouse have the strongest possible commitment to inclusion and non-discrimination on any basis. Everyone is always welcome at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That has always been the policy from the very beginning of the Simon family’s involvement and it always will be.”
The reason for the release is that the legislation has been widely criticized as one that could legalize discrimination.
From the Huffington Post:
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) quietly signed legislation Thursday that could legalize discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. But many opponents of the bill, which included business leaders, argued that it could open the door to widespread discrimination. Business owners who don’t want to serve same-sex couples, for example, could now have legal protections to discriminate.
This was a smart decision by the league to take a proactive approach, and make it publicly clear that it won’t be a part of anything that is discriminatory in nature — no matter what the law allows.