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IAEE openly disapproves Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Along with the Convention Industry Council (CIC), an organization that champions the economic and social value of the meetings and event profession, and several other organizations and businesses, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), an organization for show organizers and suppliers to the tradeshow industry, voiced its disapproval of Indiana Senate Bill 101, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Addressed to Indiana Governor Mike Pence on March 31, IAEE Chairperson Megan Tanel as well as President and CEO David DuBois objected to the law, which could potentially lead to discrimination under the guise of protecting religious beliefs against governmental scrutiny.

Dear Governor Pence:

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) is a Dallas-based association with over 9,000 members in 51 countries. Our members own and/or manage over 14,000 exhibitions and events in the United States. The direct spend of the exhibitions and events conducted in this country totals $69 billion. Exhibitions support thousands of jobs across our country, generate millions of dollars in incremental taxes (for and in both cities and states) and help to create educational opportunities for thousands on an annual basis. In fact, many products are introduced into the marketplace as a result of exhibitions. Your businesses across Indiana are the frequent recipients of our industry’s important work and economic impact.

With that in mind, we respectfully request that your office work with the Indiana General Assembly to adopt corrective language to Senate Bill 101, The “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” clarifying that the law does not allow discrimination of any kind against any segment of the population. It has already become very apparent that many businesses, meetings, conventions and exhibitions have either already done so, or are considering, boycotting Indiana for current and future engagements. Such boycotts negatively impact Indiana employees who work in the hospitality, exhibitions and events industry.

The “Hoosier State” has a decades-long reputation for delivering world-class hospitality and service to ALL visitors and attendees. IAEE and our members cannot support any legislation or actions that could lead to discrimination at any level. Nor can we support the boycotting of exhibitions, meetings and events as a weapon in this debate.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter.


Megan Tanel, CEM
Chairperson of IAEE
Vice President of Exhibitions and Events
Association of Equipment Manufacturers

David DuBois, CAE, CMP, FASAE, CTA
President and CEO
International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into effect on March 26 for Indiana businesses to practice religious freedom. Although the law states that the government who may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion,” certain customers may be refused service as a result of the language, including the LGBTQ community.

A number of conventions and events have spoken out against the law and considered taking their business out of state.


See related articles
Gen Con supports amended Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Indiana amends Religious Freedom Restoration Act
CIC speaks out against discriminatory Indiana law
Indiana to lose Gen Con over religious law


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