LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — USC Athletic Director Pat Haden is joining the boycott against Indiana’s Religious Freedom law by refusing to attend a college football committee meeting in Indianapolis over the weekend.
The former Trojan quarterback and current athletics department head is among the critics of the law, seeing it as a smokescreen to permit businesses and institutions in Indiana to discriminate against people they do not like.
Those against the law signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week argue that it opens particular discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Haden, the father of a son who is gay, took to Twitter on Tuesday morning and made his position on the issue, and the resulting boycott, clear.
A storm of backlash has resulted from the law, prompting government, businesses and athletic officials to boycott business travel to the state.
Pence has since stated that the law is in need of clarification.
“The smear here against this bill is that it created a license to discriminate, or a license to deny services, and that’s just completely false and baseless,” Pence said.
Former California State Assembly Speaker John Perez, who was the first gay Assembly speaker in the history of California, said Pence’s perception of the issue is skewed and that members of the LGBT community would suffer from the law.
“Well, I think he’s misunderstanding where the perception problem is,” Perez said. “His perception is that it’s OK to discriminate, as long as you hide it correctly, and that’s not acceptable.”
Protests in Indiana against the law have continued to grow throughout the week, and cheers arose at Indianapolis City Hall when the City Council voted to denounce the law.
Nineteen other states have religious freedom laws similar to Indiana’s, though a number of those also contain language that prohibits discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The controversy escalated just days before the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, which tips off in Indianapolis. The Final Four generates roughly $70 million in business for the host city.
Business leaders in California, however, are among those responding to the law.
The CEOs of Levi Strauss and The Gap released a statement condemning the law.
“These new laws and legislation that allow people and businesses to deny service to people, based on their sexual orientation, turn back the clock on equality and foster a culture of intolerance.”
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, also released a statement, saying: “This legislation has the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality. This is not a political or religious issue, but rather, how we treat each other as human beings.”
Pence expects to have a proposed change in language on the law by the end of the week.