Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in North America, began in Gary Gygax’s home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in 1967; from 1985 to 2002 it was held in Milwaukee, and in 2003 it moved to its current home in Indianapolis, Indiana. Attendance last year was more than 56,000, making it the largest convention of any kind in the state.
The bill in question, Senate Bill 101 (SB101), has already passed the state legislature and is expected to be signed by Pence soon. It allows business owners to refuse to serve same-sex couples if they have religious objections, in the same manner that white business owners once were legally permitted to refuse to serve black customers in many southern states.
In his letter to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence this week, Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con, wrote:
Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. 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.
Supporters of the bill say it protects business owners with strong religious convictions from heavy-handed government interference, while opponents argue that it permits open discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
In the past week many have publicly spoken out against the bill, including George Takei, who posted the following to Facebook on Tuesday.