Charles Barkley is arguing the Final Four men’s basketball championship games should be moved out of Indiana because of the state’s new religious freedom law.
Critics charge that the law effectively legalizes discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as long as that discrimination is rooted in religious justification.
“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” Barkley, the Hall of Fame NBA star and basketball commentator, told USA Today.
“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.”
Barkley, who is commentating on the college basketball tournament, is just the latest critic of the state’s new law, which Gov. Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTo advance democracy, defend Taiwan and Ukraine Jan. 6 committee getting 'significant cooperation' from top Pence aide: CNN More voters would pick Trump over Biden if election were held today: poll MORE (R-Ind.) signed last week. The law says the government cannot “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” without a compelling interest.
The NCAA, which will host its men’s basketball Final Four tournament this week in Indianapolis, has already threatened to relocate future events, while Apple CEO Tim Cook compared it to Jim Crow laws in the South and the technology company Salesforce said it would cancel all mandated employee travel to the state. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is expected to sign an executive order on Monday banning travel to states with similar laws, according to a representative with the governor's office.
Reggie Miller, another member of the basketball Hall of Fame who played for the Indiana Pacers, tweeted a statement criticizing the law.
Pence and others have defended the law as preventing government overreach, specifically citing the University of Notre Dame lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for contraception coverage.
Indiana Republican lawmakers said Monday that they would work to clarify the law and insisted they did not pass it with discriminatory intent. Pence has argued that all it does is codify a language similar to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act into state law.
“This is about protecting the religious liberty of people of faith and families of faith across this country,” Pence said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
“That's what it's been for more than 20 years,” Pence said.