erin dnt marquez indiana religious freedom_00000000.jpg
PHOTO: WTHR
erin dnt marquez indiana religious freedom_00000000.jpg
Now playing
02:47
Protests underway over Indiana's 'religious freedom' law
Ellen Page, star of the movie, "Juno" questions Ted Cruz on his LGBT views at the Iowa state fair is Des Moines. August 21, 2015
PHOTO: KCCI
Ellen Page, star of the movie, "Juno" questions Ted Cruz on his LGBT views at the Iowa state fair is Des Moines. August 21, 2015
Now playing
01:42
Actress Ellen Page debates Ted Cruz on LGBT rights
dnt baker refuses anti-gay order_00001124.jpg
PHOTO: WKMG
dnt baker refuses anti-gay order_00001124.jpg
Now playing
01:30
Baker refuses anti-gay order, gets 'nasty' gestures
ac pkg tuchman georgia florists religious freedom bill_00000527.jpg
ac pkg tuchman georgia florists religious freedom bill_00000527.jpg
Now playing
02:51
Why one Georgia florist won't serve gay couples
special sot georgia state senator mckoon religious freedom bill_00041014.jpg
special sot georgia state senator mckoon religious freedom bill_00041014.jpg
Now playing
04:40
Ga. state senator fights for religious right law
PHOTO: WBND-LP
Now playing
02:20
Memories Pizza receives over $700K in donations
US President Barack Obama stands alongside Pope Francis during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015. More than 15,000 people packed the South Lawn for a full ceremonial welcome on Pope Francis
PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama stands alongside Pope Francis during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015. More than 15,000 people packed the South Lawn for a full ceremonial welcome on Pope Francis' historic maiden visit to the United States. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:43
Pope Francis speaks about religious liberty
donald trump iowa faith freedom bts nr_00004423.jpg
donald trump iowa faith freedom bts nr_00004423.jpg
Now playing
02:15
Donald Trump vows to fight for religious liberty
Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz speaks during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition annual banquet and presidential forum  Monday June 22, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.
(Taylor Glascock for CNN)
PHOTO: Taylor Glascock for CNN
Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz speaks during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition annual banquet and presidential forum Monday June 22, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Taylor Glascock for CNN)
Now playing
01:18
Ted Cruz discusses religious liberty
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Image
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.
Now playing
02:03
Huckabee: Left won't rest until 'no more churches'
pkg memories pizza religious freedom law_00004113.jpg
PHOTO: WBND-LP
pkg memories pizza religious freedom law_00004113.jpg
Now playing
02:16
Restaurant owner won't serve same-sex weddings
A still photo of the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta.
PHOTO: Rich Brooks/CNN/File
A still photo of the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta.
Now playing
02:50
Georgia Senate passes religious freedom bill
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/FILE
Now playing
07:07
NBA legend on Indiana law: They came after gay people
tsr tom cotton arkansas religious freedom act reaction_00004429.jpg
tsr tom cotton arkansas religious freedom act reaction_00004429.jpg
Now playing
02:00
Senator: Iran will hang you for ...
Former US Congressman Asa Hutchinson announces the findings and recommendations of the National School Shield Program at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, April 2, 2013. The NRA-backed National School Shield program on Tuesday unveiled recommendations to protect schools from instances of violence, including a model program to train and enable school personnel to carry firearms. Hutchinson was tasked by the National Rifle Association following the December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut to develop the recommendations to bolster school security. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Former US Congressman Asa Hutchinson announces the findings and recommendations of the National School Shield Program at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, April 2, 2013. The NRA-backed National School Shield program on Tuesday unveiled recommendations to protect schools from instances of violence, including a model program to train and enable school personnel to carry firearms. Hutchinson was tasked by the National Rifle Association following the December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut to develop the recommendations to bolster school security. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:17
Did Indiana influence the Arkansas outcome?
ar gov hutchinson religious freedom bill _00000000.jpg
ar gov hutchinson religious freedom bill _00000000.jpg
Now playing
02:28
Arkansas governor: Bill needs changes before I sign it
PHOTO: WXIN
Now playing
03:24
How Indiana will 'fix' controversial law
ctn sot indiana religious freedom law_00001410.jpg
ctn sot indiana religious freedom law_00001410.jpg
Now playing
04:31
Penn Jillette: No one's forcing you to have gay sex
Now playing
06:33
Lawmaker defends controversial religious freedom bill
cnn tonight don lemon indiana law opening statement _00001412.jpg
cnn tonight don lemon indiana law opening statement _00001412.jpg
Now playing
01:05
Don Lemon speaks out against Indiana law
nr sot indiana religious freedom law constitutional toobin_00005230.jpg
nr sot indiana religious freedom law constitutional toobin_00005230.jpg
Now playing
01:07
Is Indiana's 'religious freedom' law constitutional?
cnn tonight lori windham sally kohn indiana law normalizing bigotry _00004316.jpg
cnn tonight lori windham sally kohn indiana law normalizing bigotry _00004316.jpg
Now playing
01:51
Kohn: Indiana Law is about 'normalizing bigotry'
erin live hester arkansas religious freedom bill_00003723.jpg
erin live hester arkansas religious freedom bill_00003723.jpg
Now playing
04:35
State senator: This law is about freedom of speech
bts legislators speak indiana religious freedom law_00003314.jpg
PHOTO: WTHR
bts legislators speak indiana religious freedom law_00003314.jpg
Now playing
01:22
Lawmaker: 'Not the intent of the law to discriminate'
Now playing
02:05
Furious backlash over controversial law
pkg religious freedom bill nuts and bolts_00003519.jpg
PHOTO: WXIN
pkg religious freedom bill nuts and bolts_00003519.jpg
Now playing
02:10
Bill allows businesses to reject gay customers

Story highlights

Indiana is under fire for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Critics say it discriminates against the LGBT community

(CNN) —  

Gov. Mike Pence unleashed a firestorm on Indiana last week when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Critics of the law contend it could be used by individuals and businesses to discriminate – particularly against the LGBT community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals – on the basis of religion.

The ramifications for the Hoosier State are just starting to be felt in the form of boycotts, petitions and travel bans.

As the controversy mushrooms, here’s what got us to where we are. And where things are headed.

The act is signed

Last week, Pence put his signature on the RFRA – a law that allows Indiana businesses to cite their religious freedom as a legal defense.

The law states that the government can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” and that individuals who feel like their religious beliefs have been or could be “substantially burdened” can lean on this law to fend off lawsuits.

In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, Pence says the RFRA “ensures that Indiana law will respect religious freedom and apply the highest level of scrutiny to any state or local governmental action that infringes on people’s religious liberty.”

Pence notes that there is no reference to sexual orientation in the law.

The backlash is immediate

Civil liberties and gay rights groups hold to their stance that the law could be used by businesses to deny service to people based on their sexual orientation and justify that discrimination based on their religious belief.

“Silence is consent!” tweets Laurel Davilia, a commentator on Brass Knuckles Progressives Radio.

Boycotts begin

From sports teams to musicians to other cities and states, they fell like dominoes.

The NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis and set to host its men’s basketball Final Four in the city this week, said the law could lead it to move events elsewhere in future years. The NBA, WNBA and NFL issued critical statements too.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay says fans of all stripes are welcome.

“The Colts have always embraced inclusiveness, tolerance, and a diverse fan base,” Irsay tweets. “We welcome ALL fans to Colts Nation. ONE FAMILY!”

A petition posted on change.org hopes to get the Big Ten Conference to move its football championship out of Indianapolis.

“I think that Indiana needs to be told that it must respect all persons regardless of sex, age, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” Sean Burke of Madison, Wisconsin, says in the petition. “As a football fan, I think we can send a message by calling on the NCAA and Big Ten Conference to take a stand.”

Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is scheduled to host the league’s championship game through the 2021 season.

At last check, the petition had more than 11,000 supporters.

The mayors of San Francisco and Seattle have barred spending on travel to Indiana. The governors of Connecticut and Washington state did the same thing.

And you can add Wilco to the boycott bandwagon. The group is canceling its May 7 show in Indianapolis, it says on Facebook.

“The ‘Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination to us,” Wilco says. “Hope to get back to the Hoosier State someday soon, when this odious measure is repealed.”

Cher is among the artists speaking out. Her son Chaz Bono is a transgender man.

“#GOVPENCE IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF RIGHT WING RACISM, ASAULT ON WOMANS RIGHTS & HATRED OF LGBT AMERICANS,” she tweets.

State walks back … sort of

Indiana’s top two state lawmakers pledged Monday to amend the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law to clarify that it cannot be used to discriminate against gay people.

“This law does not discriminate, and it will not be allowed to do so,” David Long, the Indiana Senate president pro tem, said during a news conference with state House Speaker Brian Bosma.

Pence had said earlier that he was working with lawmakers to clarify the law.

Critics don’t buy it

Critics still weren’t on board with the anti-discrimination claims. Opponents of RFRA marched around the state capitol.

Someone even created a satire ad: “Indiana. It’s a great place to be a bigot.”.

They demand change

The rhetoric has reached such a fever pitch that a front page editorial in Tuesday’s edition of the Indianapolis Star blares the headline: “Fix. This. Now.”

The editorial suggests the RFRA and protections for gays and lesbians can co-exist.

The state is at a crossroads it says.

“(N)o matter its original intent (the law) already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future,” according to the editorial. “Only bold action – action that sends an unmistakable message to the world that our state will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens – will be enough to reverse the damage.”

The editorial closes with:

“Governor, Indiana is in a state of crisis. It is worse than you seem to understand.

“You must act with courage and wisdom. You must lead us forward now. You must ensure that all Hoosiers have strong protections against discrimination.

“The laws can co-exist. And so can we.”

Some presidential hopefuls offer support

Some of the GOP’s top figures are backing Pence despite the controversy. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have voiced their support. Both are considered likely Republican candidates for the White House.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who announced his candidacy last week, is also on board.

“I’m proud to stand with Gov. @mike_pence for religious liberty, and I urge Americans to do the same,” Cruz tweets.

Indy is not the only state

Indiana is the 20th state to adopt a “religious freedom restoration” law, most of which are modeled after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993.

But that law passed with the backing of a broad-based coalition and wasn’t set against the backdrop of gay rights or the wave of marriage equality laws that have swept the country in recent years.

Adam Talbot, a spokesman with the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, stresses that those 20 laws are “dramatically different in their scope and effect.”

“Calling them similar in this way risks being misleading. Indiana is the broadest and most dangerous law of its kind in the country,” Talbot says.

Arkansas’ legislature passed an Indiana-style law on Friday, which now heads to the state’s governor for approval.