Actors Petition for Equity Boycott of Indiana Due to 'Religious Freedom' Act

After Tony winner Audra McDonald led the theatre community's charge against Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on March 26, a group of actors has started a petition asking the Actors Equity Association to pull its tours and thesps from the state.

The effort has nabbed 1,146 of its goal of 2,000 signatures over just 24 hours.

The petition reads:

"With the passage of Indiana's new discriminatory law, it is clear that Indiana is no longer a safe place for the touring theatrical community.

"That's right, the casts of some of your favorite shows (Wicked, Book of Mormon, The Lion King, etc) are being thrust into a very scary and unpredictable situation.

"To perform in a theatre there just places us in a dangerous environment where government law dictates that discrimination is LEGAL as long as it comes from someone's 'religious convictions.'

"We can be turned out of our hotels for sleeping with a person of the same sex. We can be asked to leave a restaurant because our conversation may be 'too gay' for the owners.

"Why spend our per diem dollars there and WHY funnel the millions that national tours generate into an environment that legally now treat us as second class citizens. Let's let our union, the Actors Equity Association (the U.S. labor union that represents more than 50,000 Actors and Stage Managers), know that we will no longer tour in Indiana. The union's job is to protect us and look out for our well being, and there is no better time to act than now. If we stand firm as a community, and with the supporters of our community, we deal Indiana another financial blow that will hopefully soon bring this government to their senses.

"This petition is NOT just for actors to sign but for ALL of our fellow artist and for ALL of those that support the arts not being subjected to a state of discrimination.

"Please stand with us, we are only powerful in numbers."

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows Indiana business owners to discriminate against gay customers (and potentially other minorities) if serving them goes against their religious beliefs.

In addition to McDonald's fierce remarks on Twitter, married stage vets Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman have cancelled their upcoming appearance in Indiana in protest. They join a growing list of entertainers who are standing up against the law.

Other stage stars who have been vocal in their opposition include Harvey Fierstein, Julie Halston, Rory O'Malley, Patrick Page, George Takei and more.

In addition, Arkansas Repertory Theatre's Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp responded to the filing of a similar bill in his state by stating:

"Arkansas Repertory Theatre stands in strong opposition to HB1228, the 'religious conscience' bill currently winding its way through our state government. We condemn any act that condones bigotry or discrimination of any kind. We believe HB 1228 is bad for our state and bad for our organization. Our state should look forward with optimism and hope, not backwards with anger and fear. This bill discourages the best and the brightest among us, in the arts and in commerce, from creating and living in our wonderful state. We, as a state, are better than this bill."

What are your thoughts on the bill in Indiana? What do you think the theatre community should be doing in response?

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