RFRA

Porter Novelli

Just two-and-a-half months after hiring global public relations firm Porter Novelli to combat the negative impact of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation Thursday cancelled its contract with the company. 

The IEDC hired Porter Novelli in April in the wake of backlash over the RFRA controversy to “remind the world that Hoosiers welcome everyone.” 

Christopher Ayers / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Founded amidst controversy over the state’s new religious freedom law, Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis Wednesday hosted its inaugural service on the same day the law went into effect.

The worship opened with a house band playing about 30 minutes of music, mostly funky tunes with veiled or direct references to marijuana—the illegal plant Church founder Bill Levin says is his congregation’s holy sacrament.

K. Latham / https://www.flickr.com/photos/programwitch/

Pro-LGBT groups say they’re going to organize a voter registration drive as part of their push to obtain civil rights protections for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Ninety-seven days after Indiana’s religious freedom bill was signed into law, the controversial measure known as RFRA took effect Wednesday.

Pro-LGBT activist Rick Sutton says some of its negative impact was undone through a legislative “fix” back in April.

M. Martin Vicente / https://www.flickr.com/photos/martius/6108677802

Indiana's First Church of Cannabis will not be using any of its namesake herb at the inaugural service scheduled for Wednesday. But its founder still plans to end up in court.

Bill Levin, founder and "Grand Poobah" of the church won’t allow any pot smoking due to threats of arrest at his first church service booked for Wednesday afternoon at a repurposed church on Indy’s south side.

"We’re not going to get into a brawl with a police force who has already show their voluntary ignorance about our religion," Levin says.

Steve Baker / https://www.flickr.com/photos/littlebiglens/18597931390

Plans for the first service of the First Church of Cannabis could go up in smoke if anyone partakes of the namesake drug. Marijuana legalization activist Bill Levin  started his church on the day Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, and says he plans to hold the church’s first service on July 1.

"I'll give a short sermon, I mean real short, and do church announcements the way you’re supposed to do," Levin says. "Then we’ll all rise, read the deity dozen, and at the end of the deity dozen we will celebrate life and light up."

Office of the Governor

As Gov. Mike Pence announced his re-election bid Thursday, the governor struck back at his critics while acknowledging some blame for the religious freedom bill controversy — and Pence says he’s ready for a fight.

The last few months of Mike Pence’s term have been marked by controversy and criticism, from the proposed state-run news service to his handling of the religious freedom bill.

And state Democratic Party Chair John Zody says Pence’s actions have left the Hoosier middle class angry.

Benson Kua / https://www.flickr.com/photos/bensonkua/

LGBT advocates say they’re waiting on pins and needles for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling later this month on marriage equality.

But they say regardless of the outcome, there’s more work to be done.

Ohioan Jim Obergefell married his husband John Arthur in Maryland in 2013.

But when John died a short time later, Ohio didn’t allow Obergefell to be recognized as Arthur’s husband on the death certificate.

The ensuing court case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court and could ultimately legalize same sex marriage across the country.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Despite constant clashes with Governor Mike Pence over the last two years, State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says her decision to run for governor isn’t personal; it’s because of significant differences with Pence over how to move Indiana forward.  Ritz officially became the third person to enter the Democratic primary Thursday, calling herself the “best candidate” to beat the governor.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Republican legislative leaders say a formal study on creating civil rights protections for the LGBT community won’t happen this year -- but they say they’ll be thinking about the issue regardless.

Republican leaders admitted earlier this year that controversy surrounding the religious freedom bill fast-forwarded the debate around adding LGBT protections to the state’s civil rights statute. 

Purdue University

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the national inflation rate for 2014 was about 1.6-percent. That means employees who receive raises of 1.6-percent are just keeping pace with an increased cost of living.

So when Purdue proposed a 3-to-3.5-percent raise for many employees, it came as a welcome respite from years of raises in the 0-to-2-percent range. On this month’s conversation with Purdue President Mitch Daniels, we ask him how he arrived at that number and how it’ll be doled out.

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