By Michelle Graff
The “Open for Service” sticker on the door of Robert Goodman Jewelers in Zionsville, Ind. Indianapolis--While lawmakers in Indiana do damage control after the passage of last week’s controversial religious freedom law, at least two jewelers are among the state’s businesses slapping an “Open for Service” sticker on their front door.

Passed by the state’s General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence Thursday, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, was designed to protect individuals or companies from being forced to doing something that conflicts with their religious beliefs, lawmakers say.

Critics allege the bill would allow business owners to discriminate against the LGBT community, to refuse service to people based on their sexual orientation.

The law caused widespread blowback across the country, with large corporations like Columbus, Ohio-based Angie’s List and San Francisco-based among the first vowing to dial down business in the Hoosier State. Even the N.C.A.A., which is set to begin its men’s Final Four basketball tournament in Indianapolis this coming weekend, is expressing concern over the message the legislation sends.

Smaller businesses in Indiana also have been public about their disdain over the RFRA, so much so that they’ve propelled a simple website into a national movement.

About two weeks ago, before the RFRA even became law, a Valparaiso, Ind. native named Josh Driver put up and created its $10 stickers and online badges with the idea that Indiana businesses could use them to show their support for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.

“This business serves everyone,” the sticker reads, followed by, in smaller font, “Learn more and find other companies that celebrate an open economy at”

A wide variety of businesses have embraced Open for Service, including bakeries, breweries and at least two independent jewelers, and the movement has attracted attention from business owners as far away as New York and Los Angeles, according to a story on Driver by The Indianapolis Star.

Bob Goodman, a third generation jeweler who owns and operates Robert Goodman Jewelers with his wife Rose-Marie, said he was one of the first merchants on Main Street in Zionsville, Ind. to purchase and put up his Open for Service sticker, after learning about the movement from a customer via a Facebook message.

“It fits who we are,” he said. “We are here to take care of anybody who walks in our store … (sexual orientation) is not important. I don’t care. It has absolutely no importance, as far as we are concerned. It’s not my business. It doesn’t define the individual in any way, shape or form.”

Robert Goodman Jewelers has the Open for Service logo as its profile picture on both Twitter and Facebook, and has the actual physical sticker affixed prominently to its front door.

Goodman, who has been in the jewelry industry for 41 years, said the thought of the sticker offending potential customers never even crossed his mind. He said if they don’t like his views--if they, for example, came in and were put off when they saw him helping a same-sex couple--then so be it. He doesn’t want to help them anyway.

“This is a decision of right and wrong,” Goodman said emphatically. “This isn’t a business decision.”

In nearby Greenwood, Ind., Bob McGee, owner of McGee Jewelers and a past president of the Indiana Jewelers Association, also put up an Open for Service sticker on his store’s door. He said he heard about the movement from one of his employees, who is a member of the LGBT community.

“There was a time 40 years ago when I may have been slightly homophobic,” the 64-year-old jeweler admits.

But as he grew older and learned more about the world around him, and as many friends came out over the years, McGee changed his view.

Today, he said his store has gained a reputation among same-sex couples as the place to go for jewelry, though McGee is quick to point out that that is not the reason he put up the Open for Service sticker. “Our customer base pretty well knows us,” he said.

Like Goodman, he said he just believed it was the right thing to do. 

While politicians tend to ignore barbs from the opposing party and criticism in the media, the potential loss of business certainly is one thing that gets their attention, and quickly.

The New York Times reported Monday that lawmakers in Indiana already have said they plan to amend the law to make it clear it does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

McGee said if a change in wording is what is needed to satisfy everyone, then the legislature should do it. Whatever the outcome, however, he said he doesn’t think there’ll be any business owners in Indiana refusing to wait on or serve customers.

“A lot of the business owners feel like this is much ado about nothing,” he said. “I don’t know of a single merchant who even whispers in their sleep about turning anyone away who has money to spend. I love anybody who will spend money.”

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