SB mayor, business owners speak out against religious freedom act

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and some local business leaders spoke out Thursday after Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law.

Dozens of people gathered inside LePeep in downtown South Bend to speak out against the law.

Their fear is that the RFRA gives local businesses the license to discriminate against gay customers.

"Me, being a gay man, I was kind of shocked by [Governor Mike Pence] signing [the bill]," said Jeff Graves. "Basically, it's reverting back to 200 years when African Americans were in our spot. Now it feels though he wants us to be the minority."

Some add Indiana looks less welcoming now, but the mayor and others believe the law doesn't reflect on South Bend.

"This is something that sends exactly the wrong message when we have been working so hard to move Indiana into the 21st century," Mayor Buttigieg explains. "It sends the message that some would rather we move backwards."

South Bend business owners also weighed in.

"We can squelch what's happening, I believe," added Peg Dalton, owner of LePeep. "I think it's really important for individual business owners and community leaders to speak up and let people know that this does not represent where we're coming from."

Downtown businesses like South Bend Brew Werks and Woochi say they're disappointed in the new law.

South Bend Cubs president Joe Hart joined the voices, saying Four Winds Field welcomes everyone in the area.

Gov. Pence said he would have vetoed a bill that "legalized discrimination."

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act goes into effect July 1.