Gen Con Threatens to Leave Indiana if Anti-Gay Bill Becomes Law
The past few years have been an interesting time for fan conventions, as organizers have to confront social issues that they may not have considered in years past. Conventions including Heroes Con and Emerald City Comic Con have taken a head-on approach to harassment and gender discrimination. DragonCon wisely cut ties with a founder in the wake of a child molestatiion case. And the list goes on.
But many of those have been cases of conventions dealing with direct internal challenges. This week, Gen Con, the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America, took the fight to the state government of Indiana, threatening to leave the Hoosier State if Gov. Mick Pence signs into law a bill that would facilitate discrimination against gay people.
The so-called "religious freedom" bill, passed in the Indiana House of Representatives Tuesday, would give business owners free rein to refuse to provide services to anyone if they claim doing so would go against their religion. That could mean a baker could refuse to make a cake for a gay couple's wedding, for example.
Gen Con CEO and owner Adrian Swartout sent a letter to Pence on Monday in which she said the state will stand to lose the $50 million the convention brings to the city of Indianapolis each year if the bill becomes law.
Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.
We ask that you please reconsider your support of SB 101.
According to organizers, Gen Con drew more than 56,000 attendees from all 50 states and from 40 different countries in 2014.