The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Madison-based First Amendment rights group, asked for Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to overturn their states’ respective versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Earlier this week, both governors criticized Indiana’s newly-passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill aims to protect religious minorities from facing potentially discriminatory practices.
The legislation states that a "person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding."
Since codified as a federal law in 1993, 20 states have enacted similar statutes, including Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Mississippi and Kentucky.
However, some argue that the bill allows corporations to unfairly target individuals based on their sexual orientation.
“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is now used not as a shield, but as a sword by the religious majority and corporations to discriminate against minority groups,” according to a statement released by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
While Gov. Malloy banned state-sponsored travel to Indiana, the Freedom From Religion Foundation said they think he should also address Connecticut’s version of the law.
In a letter sent to Malloy, the group asked the governor to repeal the state law "to ensure that citizens in Connecticut will not have to face discrimination in their own state."
Gov. McAuliffe also criticized the Indiana law, inviting businesses that disagree with the legislation to move to Virginia. While applauding McAuliffe’s executive order to protect individuals from discrimination, FFRF's co-presidents, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, said the governor could do more.
“The fact is, your state has had a law nearly identical to Indiana's in place for eight years," Gaylor and Barker said in their letter to McAuliffe.