Politics

Seattle Mayor Bans Travel To Indiana By City Workers

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Municipal employees from Seattle, Washington, will no longer be allowed to travel on city funds to Indiana because of its new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The decision was made by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in response to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law Thursday in Indiana, which allows businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians for religious reasons, reports ABC News.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence approved the new law.

Murray said it “doesn’t reflect the values” of Seattle.

"Seattle has been a leader in the fight to protect civil rights and ensure equality for all people — no matter who you are, or who you love," Murray said in a statement. ”This is why I am ordering that none of our taxpayer dollars should go toward supporting this discriminatory law.”

Pence has claimed the law is not about discrimination.

"This bill is not about discrimination," Pence said, "and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it."

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government cannot compel people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds. An example of such a service would be wedding photography for same-sex weddings.

On Saturday, hundreds of people rallied outside of the Indiana Statehouse against the law. Some carried “No Hate In Our State” signs.

Pence told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” the new law.

“I support religious liberty, and I support this law,” Pence said. “But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”

Pence finds the blowback from the new law a result of a “misunderstanding driven by misinformation.”

The passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has repercussions for Indiana’s economic health.

In response to the new law, Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterie announced that his company will no longer continue with a deal between the state and city to expand his company’s headquarters in Indiannapolis.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said that the company will cancel all corporate-related travel to Indiana.

Pence did not anticipate the negative reaction to the bill.

“I just can’t account for the hostility that’s been directed at our state,” Pence said. “I’ve been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill.”

Pence defended the law by stating that 19 other states and the federal government have similar legislation in place. He also noted that President Barack Obama voted for Illinois’ version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a state senator.

Pence holds to his belief that the new law is not about discrimination.

“First, this law is not about discrimination. It’s about protecting religious liberty and giving people full access to the judicial system,” Pence said. “But, yes, Hoosier hospitality is about making all people feel welcome in our state. We did that with the Super Bowl and with many other events, and with bringing businesses here. We will continue to do that.”

Sources: ABC News, The Star / Photo Source: ABC News