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The Profit may back out of Indiana episode over RFRA

The Profit Marcus LemonisThe Profit star Marcus Lemonis is joining the opposition to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, saying a planned Indiana investment may not happen.

He plans to be in Columbus, Indiana, next week to film an episode of the CNBC series, but could back out if changes to Indiana’s passage of a RFRA don’t move forward. Lemonis’ real investments in small businesses are chronicled on the show, and he said he doesn’t want to be “putting more of my money and effort into a state government that would even consider the idea that people could be alienated, discriminated against or judged.”

Lawmakers in the state announced today that they’ve reached a deal to modify the law to explicitly prohibit discrimination, and Lemonis called that “progress” and says he plans to be in Indiana but without such a deal it “may not happen.”

In a Facebook post, Lemonis, who owns Camping World, wrote that his company has two locations in the state and “provides almost 1.2 billion dollars of revenue to the RV manufacturers that call Indiana home,” but called the RFRA “nonsense” and said “I stand in front of and behind my convictions to defend things when I feel that they are not right.”

Not investing in a small business and/or cancelling a single episode of a TV show certainly is not the largest gesture ever, but his statement is an impressive and powerful one. It joins a chorus of other businesses, governments, and individuals who are angry over a law that the state’s governor signed but can’t even articulately defend.

For an illuminating and informative explanation about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and why there was such instant backlash, read Amy Davidson’s article in The New Yorker. It explains why, in principle, an RFRA actually makes sense, but also describes how Indiana’s law “went farther” than other similar laws. It was instead a thinly veiled attempt to find “a respectable way to oppose same-sex marriage and to rally the base around it.”

Here’s the full text of Marcus’ post:

We are all entitled to our own opinion. Here is mine. I am my own man, with my own belief system. Some of you may chose to disagree and I will respect you for it. If we all debate it then it can only makes things better.

Next week I am scheduled to begin filming a new episode for The Profit. Like any other week, our crew begins the scheduling process, finishes up travel plans etc. This particular week however may not happen. Its scheduled in Indiana. While I am aware that there are a number of states where this issue exists, I want to make it clear that in no place is it ok. I choose this business months ago on the merits of the business, the story of the partners and the fun behind the product. While I own businesses in Indiana today, and am proud of it, Im sorry to say that right now putting more of my money and effort into a state government that would even consider the idea that people could be alienated, discriminated against or judged just does not sit right with me. Small business is the backbone of this county and its also the backbone of Indiana just the same. My company Camping World not only operates two locations there but also provides almost 1.2 billion dollars of revenue to the RV manufacturers that call Indiana home. I sympathize with the people Indiana who are being wrongly cast and or led by some people that could put their livelihood at risk. 

I want to be clear that this is my personal view and I stand in front of and behind my convictions to defend things when I feel that they are not right. In no universe should anyone have to be bullied, picked on, treated differently for any reason. All of us are different which is what makes this country great, including you who is reading this now.

With some of the progress that I am hearing about this morning my plan is to be in Columbus, Indiana next week and give all that I have to work to help this business and the partners. My hope is that today or this weekend this issue is put behind us.

Its 2015, lets get our act together and cut out the nonsense. This sort of issue only brings us closer together.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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