Classic rock star and Indiana native John Mellencamp publicly joined the outcry against what he called his state’s “discriminatory” and “ill-conceived” religious freedom law, and said he’d considered canceling his upcoming concerts there.
“I am not questioning the sincerity of those who believe they have acted in the interests of religious freedom, but I am resolutely stating my opposition to this misnamed and ill-conceived law. It is discriminatory, hurtful, and a stain on Indiana’s national reputation,” he wrote in a letter published Thursday in The Indianapolis Star.
His op-ed came a day after Indiana Republican lawmakers offered a fix to the law, following waves of criticism from around the country that the legislation would allow companies to discriminate against certain people. The amended version explicitly doesn’t allow businesses to deny services to gay individuals or minority groups. The revised legislation was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday.
The singer wrote that he will continue with planned shows in Indiana because he doesn’t want to let the government divide him and his fans from his native state. His next show in Indiana is set for May 27 in Evansville.
Prominent members of the business community, however, have cancelled previously planned events in the state. The most widely reported example was the decision by the chief executive officer of Angie’s List to halt an expansion to its campus in Indianapolis over the religious freedom law. Most recently, CEO Bill Oesterle said he didn’t accept the lawmakers’ so-called “fix” they presented on Thursday.
Ex-NBA players pressured the NCAA to pull games out of the state, where the final four basketball matchups are scheduled to be played. And the more culturally conservative NASCAR has also come out in opposition to the controversial legislation.
Mellencamp commented on the racial, religious, and political diversity of Indiana, calling the state the “American Melting Pot” he learned about as a child in school. The singer has a history of taking progressive political stands.
In 2012, when Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin used his song “Small Town” on the campaign trail, Mellencamp called him out for overlooking his own political stance on labor issues. When Walker continued to use track at events last year, the singer made his displeasure known yet again. Conservatives also tried to co-opt his music for the 2008 John McCain campaign and a 2010 push against same-sex marriage, which drew ire from Mellencamp.
“He’s a very liberal person,” his publicist told The Associated Press in 2012. “He appeared at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. His wife at the time was a delegate at large. He’s very pro-collective bargaining and the fight for a living wage.”