Gen Con Responds To Amended Indiana RFRA

Most people who read this blog are aware that Gen Con wrote a letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence threatening to leave the State of Indiana if he signed the controversial “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” SB 101 into law. Of course, Pence went ahead and signed it anyway, mostly because he’s a jackass.

I can say that. I live in Indiana.

Anyway, somehow “surprised” that signing that thing a whole bunch of people said would be an awful idea to sign ended up being bad for him, Pence has decided that certain provisions of the law are no longer okay. I mean, NASCAR condemned the law.


On Thursday, the state Assembly voted to modify the law, changing a provision so it would no longer override local anti-discrimination laws. This at least makes the RFRA less dangerous in the less than a dozen cities that actually have such laws. But hey, Indianapolis is one of them, so (as Gen Con’s venue at least through 2020) the convention responded – sending out an email to many previous Gen Con attendees with the title “Diversity, RFRA, and inclusion at Gen Con.”

If you have watched or read the news over the past week, you have seen nationwide feedback on Indiana’s RFRA legislation. Gen Con’s CEO, Adrian Swartout, released a letter to the Governor of Indiana, preceding the legislation’s signing, as well as two follow-up letters to our community on with the intent of sharing our thoughts with the public. Simply put, Gen Con believes that diversity and inclusion are key to the success of our convention as well as to the state of Indiana.

Today, Indiana’s General Assembly overwhelmingly passed an amendment to RFRA, signed by the Governor, that will remove RFRA’s risk of discrimination or refusal of service statewide. The amended law will reflect Indianapolis’ own longstanding human rights ordinance which includes protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With this amendment, no one can refuse you service under RFRA. Period.

We believe this is an important first step, but is just that, a first step.

The conversation on RFRA legislation has created a great dialog in Indiana, across the country, and at Gen Con itself. We know we always can do more to support diversity at our show, and are discussing some exciting new ways to increase our support for all attendees. Given the great response by Visit Indy, the Indy Chamber, Mayor Greg Ballard, and the businesses of Indianapolis, we believe that all attendees will continue to receive the warm response that we have enjoyed for more than a decade. We won’t stop pushing for more diversity and inclusiveness in Indiana, and we will include new concepts and partnerships into our preparations for Gen Con 2015.

Thank you for your feedback during this discussion! Many representatives from Indy also have asked us to express their gratitude to you for your overwhelming outreach and support. Your voice has been heard in Indiana, and Indy is excited to show you its appreciation for your support. We will continue to look for exciting new ways to improve Gen Con and our attendees’ experience.

Whether or not this change to the RFRA is too little too late remains to be seen, as other cities are pretty interested in the 56,000 attendee event. The State of Washington has gone so far as to offer money to help the con relocate.

It should be noted again that this change to the RFRA does not actually protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in municipalities without local anti-discrimination laws. For most of the state, this alteration of the Indiana RFRA has very little effect on the possible legal discrimination authorized in the name of “religious freedom.”

I’m just saying.

Via Polygon, WISH, USA Today

Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also wrote and drew the now completed webcomic UnCONventional, and produces the podcasts BS-Free Witchcraft, On This Day With Trae, Stormwood & Associates, and The Nerd & Tie Podcast. This leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”

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