Who knew—it turns out there's a cost for legalizing discrimination, as Indiana is finding out. One of the latest to cancel an upcoming event in Indiana because of the state's new license-to-discriminate law is the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which announced Monday that it is pulling its 2015 women's conference out of Indianapolis. Lee Saunders, the union's president, said in a statement that "This un-American law allowing businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers sets Indiana and our nation back decades in the struggle for civil rights. It is an embarrassment and cannot be tolerated," continuing:
Throughout our proud history, our union has stood up whenever injustice has occurred – be it for striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968, or for the victims of apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s. Governor Pence’s law, motivated by ultra-right wing zealots, is an affront to the vast majority of those in our nation who believe that every American deserves equal treatment under the law, no matter whom they love or where they worship.
AFSCME will relocate our Women’s Conference to a state to be determined as a sign of our disgust and disappointment with Governor Pence’s discriminatory law. We stand with the ever-growing number of businesses and associations who are taking similar action this week and demanding fairness for all in the state of Indiana.”
In 2013, AFSCME's women's conference drew around 800 participants
. Relocating a conference with just six months' lead time is both expensive and difficult, demonstrating once again the depth of the revulsion at Indiana's new law. And Saunders—who is the first African-American president of his 1.6 million member union—invoking civil rights fights like the Memphis sanitation workers strike and the anti-apartheid movement is another thread in the strengthening connection
between the Civil Rights movement and the LGBT rights movement.