Discriminating against people because of who they love is not only shameful, it's bad for business. Thanks to Governor Mike Pence's decision, Indiana businesses will suffer the consequences of his actions. They're already seeing the effects of this law through halted expansion projects and canceled events. Instead of supporting the people in his own state, Governor Pence and Indiana Republicans have chosen to put our small businesses at risk.
In my district and at the heart of Silicon Valley are mom-and pop small businesses and emerging start-ups. These are hundreds of small businesses that remain essential in supporting American workers and their families. They are the lifeline in every part of the American way of life — they hire employees, invest in their neighborhoods, build a sense of community, and most importantly, boost the economy.
Republicans want to sell themselves as the pro-business party, but this right-to-discriminate bill proves otherwise. It empowers discrimination in the marketplace, which not only stifles real progress, it's also poor decision-making.
There's an even bigger issue — Governor Pence has support from the 2016 Republican field of potential presidential candidates. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker have all sided with him on this question. They are going to have a hard time explaining their decision-making and their views, which are far outside the mainstream. How can we trust presidential candidates who won't stand up for what is best for Indiana business owners, let alone answer the American people? Governor Pence and the rest of the GOP field have seemingly forgotten Indiana's business community in an attempt to please religious conservatives.
We have already heard what Americans from all walks of life have to say about this bill – it excludes a large community and it's simply bad for business. Weeks ago, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce voiced their concerns about this bill and they were ignored. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has condemned the bill in a Washington Post op-ed, elected officials all across the country have prohibited state travel to Indiana, and Final Four coaches have joined together in their support for the NCAA's decision to stand against this piece of legislation.
Governor Mike Pence should be focusing on growing jobs in the state and ensuring that Hoosiers who run small businesses are positioned to succeed in Indiana rather than threatening their livelihoods with his political choices. Indiana's right-to-discriminate bill is representative of the same backwards policies that Republican presidential candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker support. Their refusal to condemn Governor Pence proves that they are not only out of touch with the time that we live in, they are out of touch with the business community and the American people.
As elected officials, we should be investing in infrastructure, research and development, and new technologies to provide hard-working Americans with the tools that they need to achieve the American dream, not making it harder for them to succeed and stifling real progress that has been made.
While Democrats are committed to helping every individual succeed in this country, Republicans choose to prioritize their own backwards agenda and put politics over smart business choices. The success of small businesses is fundamental to the growth of our economy and Indiana's right to discriminate bill not only peddles the country's progress backwards, but it is also bad for American businesses.
Commentary by Rep. Mike Honda, a Democrat representing the 17th District of California. He is also the vice chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus. Follow him on Twitter @repmikehonda.