INDIANAPOLIS, March 26 (UPI) -- Shortly after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law Thursday a bill that allows businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers, the tech firm Salesforce.com said it would no longer send employees or customers to the state.
Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff said on Twitter, "Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination." Last year, the company acquired the Indianapolis-based marketing software company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion.
"We are forced to dramatically reduce our investment in IN based on our employee's & customer's outrage over the Religious Freedom Bill," he said in another tweet.
After signing the controversial "religious freedom" bill in a private ceremony in his office, Pence defended the measure who some see as a consolation prize to conservatives who failed to pass an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.
"I think there's a lot of misunderstanding," Pence said. "This has never undermined anti-discrimination laws."
Wednesday, Gen Con, considered the nation's largest gaming convention, threatened to pull out of the state if the legislation was signed. Days before that, tech business leaders signed a joint letter urging the governor to veto the bill.
"Technology professionals are by their nature very progressive, and backward-looking legislation such as the (religious freedom bill) will make the state of Indiana a less appealing place to live and work," said the letter signed CEOs who include Jon Gilman of Clear Software, Scott McCorkle of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, John McDonald of CloudOne and Bill Johnson of Salesvue.
After signing the legislation, Pence also addressed the state's new needle-exchange program to stop an HIV epidemic in Scott County.
"Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith," he said . "The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action."