After Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law on March 26, we reached out to Subaru. Given the number of Subaru facilities and employees in that state, we thought that the famously LGBT-friendly automaker might have something to say about the controversial new law — a law that, among other things, allows businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community.
Unfortunately, Subaru didn’t have anything to say. Spokesperson Michael McHale simply stated that “Subaru of America has a long history of supporting LGBT programs – and we were the first US automaker to recognize same-sex partner rights – however we typically do not comment on state or federal legislation matters.”
It was not the sort of response we’d hoped for.
However, after a few days of massive, nationwide backlash against the bill, Friend of Gaywheels John Voelcker spoke to McHale again. The company subsequently issued an amended, more forceful statement.
“While we recognize that the voters in each State elect their own legislature to decide that State’s laws, we at Subaru do not agree with any legislation that allows for discrimination, or any behavior or act that promotes any form of discrimination. Furthermore, we do not allow discrimination in our own operations, including our operations in the state of Indiana. We will certainly continue to take the issue of non-discrimination into consideration as part of our decision-making processes.”
Is that as strong a statement as the one issued by Gen Con, which said it would leave the state altogether? Or those issued by elected officials in Washington, Connecticut, San Francisco, and Seattle, who have forbidden state- and city-funded travel to Indiana? Or the one issued by Angie’s List, which has cancelled investment in the state? Or the one issued by the editors of The Indianapolis Star, who devoted the entire front page of the Star‘s print edition to an editorial insisting that Pence “FIX THIS NOW“?
No, but it’s a start.
UPDATE: Aaaaaand as of this morning, Pence is still insisting that the RFRA doesn’t allow for discrimination and that it’s no different from similar RFRA bills that have passed in other states and the federal government, even though it’s not. (FWIW, I think The Onion‘s headline is the best to date.)