March 27, 2015 at 2:09 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
White House criticizes anti-gay Ind. religious freedom law

Josh Earnest, White House, Barack Obama Administration, press, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on March 27, 2015, criticized Indiana’s religious freedom law. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday criticized the Indiana law that critics contend allows business owners to discriminate against same-sex couples.

“The signing of this bill doesn’t seem like it’s a step in the direction of equality and justice and liberty for all Americans,” he said during his daily press briefing in response to a reporter’s question.

Earnest’s comments come a day after Gov. Mike Pence signed the controversial measure — Senate Bill 101 — into law during a private ceremony.

The White House spokesperson acknowledged “a number of private businesses and non-profit organizations” that have said “the signing of this law prompts them to reconsider doing business in the state of Indiana.” These include Marc Benikoff, the chief executive officer of Salesforce, a San Francisco-based technology company, who announced on Thursday that his corporation was canceling all required travel to the Hoosier State because Pence signed SB 101 into law, and Gen Con, an organization that holds the world’s largest gaming convention each year in Indianapolis.

The men’s final of the NCAA Tournament is scheduled to take place in Indianapolis between April 4-6.

NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement he released on Thursday said his organization is “especially concerned” about how SB 101 would affect student-athletes and employees. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, and Republican Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is among those who have publicly spoken out against the law.

“That’s not just the view of the administration,” said Earnest. “I know that’s the view of the Republican mayor of Indianapolis and a whole host of non-profit and private sector companies who have legitimate concerns about the impact of this legislation.”

Earnest said he has yet to speak with President Obama about SB 101.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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