Horrified by a new Indiana state law that opponents say will enable discrimination against LGBT individuals, the city of Indianapolis is flying the rainbow flag in solidarity with the LGBT community.
The home page of the Visit Indy website was altered on Monday to feature the words "All are welcome in Indy" emblazoned over a prominent rainbow flag. The page links to a LGBT guide to the city that has been a part of the website for more than five years, officials said.
"What you're seeing is one method we are using to promote our stance on this bill," Visit Indy's Senior Communications Manager Morgan Greenlee told BuzzFeed News.
"One of our best selling points as a city is our Hoosier hospitality. It's almost a brand," she said. "Now there's a perception that not everyone is welcome here."
Greenlee said the city has already lost one major convention as a result of the law, after the AFSCME Women's union cancelled a three-day conference scheduled for October because of the law, which Union President Lee Saunders described as "un-American."
"It is an embarrassment and cannot be tolerated," Saunders said. "The 1.6 million members of AFSCME cannot in good conscience make such a sizeable financial investment in Indiana knowing that women and men in that state are deliberately being targeted for discrimination."
Greenlee said the AFSCME conference was expected to bring in more than 700 women to the Indianapolis and inject an estimated half million dollars into the city's economy.
"We're currently reaching out to other conventions to reassure them that we will be welcoming all their convention goers to the city," she said.
The opposition to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been widespread across many levels of the Indianapolis administration, with Mayor Greg Ballard tweeting his objections to the law on Monday.
This weekend the city is due to host basketball fans for a final four match of the NCAA March Madness tournament, although the NCAA has stated its opposition to the Religious Freedom Act and said "if we have to move events, we'll do it."
Greenlee said extra staff will be working "to ensure the message is out there on behalf of the entire city that everyone is welcome here."
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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