- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - Indiana’s religious objections law angered many on Broadway, and some were calling on union members to avoid working in that state before the law was revised Thursday.

A Care2 petition started by playwright and actor Eric Ulloa urged the Actors’ Equity Association - the labor union that represents more than 50,000 actors and stage managers - to avoid performances or work in Indiana following passage of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It had over 1,100 signatures by 6 p.m. Eastern time. Late Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence approved changes to the law so that it now prohibits providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations.

Ulloa in an interview earlier Thursday said he was sparked into action because the law might make it possible for touring actors to be thrown out of Indiana restaurants and hotels simply because the owners object to their conversations or they’re sleeping with members of the same sex.

“We are being placed as actors in a very dangerous predicament,” he said. “Why are we not protecting our own from having to be in a hotel where the Christian owner can say, ‘I’m sorry, you and your boyfriend can’t lie in the same bed because the Bible tells me that’s wrong.’”

The original Indiana law, which takes effect July 1, did not specifically mention gays, but opponents say it is designed to protect businesses and individuals who do not want to serve gays, such as florists or caterers who might be hired for a same-sex wedding.

In a statement, Actors’ Equity Association said the group “firmly opposes any legislation that discriminates against people based on sexual orientation” and that all “who live or work in Indiana should not be victims of legally-sanctioned discrimination.”

Several Broadway stars, including Audra McDonald and Harvey Fierstein, have attacked the law. Touring versions of Broadway shows are very lucrative and generate tax revenue for the hosting city and state.

“Actors and Actors’ Equity has always been at the forefront of these things - the fight against AIDS, discrimination and marriage equality,” Ulloa said. “I just don’t know why we’re taking a backseat to this. Why are we not at the forefront?”


Mark Kennedy is at https://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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