On Thursday, in a statement issued immediately after signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, widely supported by conservative groups but vocally opposed by others, Pence said the bill had been "misunderstood" and that "If I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it."
Almost immediately, however, a #boycottindiana hashtag launched on Twitter. Once social media icon George Takei — the actor of Star Trek fame, who is also gay — weighed in, there was no turning back.
Since then, a stream of critical and sometimes vulgar tweets, Facebook memes, editorial cartoons and even a parody video have been unleashed – many labeling the Hoosier state, its people and/or Gov. Pence as bigoted.
And today, member station WFYI reports that an estimated 3,000 people were gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse to protest the law, some carrying signs reading "no hate in our state."
Indiana author John Green tweeted:
As a Hoosier, I'm deeply saddened and embarrassed. A government exists to protect its citizens; instead, it is legalizing their oppression.
For all the fuss, The Washington Post points out that Indiana is not alone — 19 other states have similar laws.
Even so, before Pence signed the bill — which was overwhelmingly approved by the GOP legislature — GenCon LLC, a major gaming convention that meets annually in Indianapolis threatened to pull out of the state, as did several high-profile companies.
"Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me," he said. "As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states' cities."