NEW YORK – Indiana’s new religious-objections law has angered many on Broadway, and some are calling on union members to avoid working in that state.
A Care2 petition started by playwright and actor Eric Ulloa urges the Actors’ Equity Association – the labor union that represents more than 50,000 actors and stage managers – to avoid performances or work in Indiana following passage of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
It had over 1,100 signatures by 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Ulloa in an interview Thursday said he was sparked into action because the law might make it possible for touring actors to be thrown out of Indiana restaurants and hotels simply because the owners object to their conversations or they’re sleeping with members of the same sex.
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“We are being placed as actors in a very dangerous predicament,” he said. “Why are we not protecting our own from having to be in a hotel where the Christian owner can say, ‘I’m sorry, you and your boyfriend can’t lie in the same bed because the Bible tells me that’s wrong.’ ”
The Indiana law, which takes effect July 1, does not specifically mention gays, but opponents say it is designed to protect businesses and individuals who do not want to serve gays, such as florists or caterers who might be hired for a same-sex wedding.
In a statement, Actors’ Equity Association said the group “firmly opposes any legislation that discriminates against people based on sexual orientation” and that all “who live or work in Indiana should not be victims of legally-sanctioned discrimination.”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has urged lawmakers to send a bill to his desk by the end of the week to clarify the intent of the new law. He said he does not believe that lawmakers meant to create a vehicle to allow discrimination.
Several Broadway stars, including Audra McDonald and Harvey Fierstein, have attacked the law.
“Actors and Actors’ Equity has always been at the forefront of these things,” Ulloa said. “The fight against AIDS, discrimination and marriage equality. I just don’t know why we’re taking a backseat to this. Why are we not at the forefront?”