Taking cues from Washington and Connecticut, more states and cities announced government travel bans to Indiana in response to the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which essentially deems it acceptable for businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals and couples.
The backlash against Indiana continued into the week following an announcement from Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy that he would begin banning state-funded travel to Indiana due to the newly signed Restoration Act. After Connecticut came Washington, whose governor Jay Inslee called the RFRA “disturbing.”
“Washington will join other states and cities in opposing this law and I will impose an administration-wide ban on state-funded travel to Indiana,” Inslee said.
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he would begin to ban all nonessential, state-funded travel to Indiana, citing the Religious Freedom Act as the reason behind his decision.
“Today, I direct all agencies, departments, boards and commissions to immediately review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the State of Indiana and to bar any such publicly funded travel that is not essential to the enforcement of state law or public health and safety,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York State has been, and will continue to be, a leader in ensuring that all LGBT persons enjoy full and equal civil rights. With this action, we stand by our LBGT family members, friends and colleagues to ensure that their rights are respected.”
In addition to a growing list of states imposing travel bans, individual cities including Portland, Washington D.C., Seattle and San Francisco have begun to take action. Oakland, California, Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement announcing her decision.
“As Mayor of Oakland, I join with jurisdictions, private citizens, businesses and other entities around the world in denouncing the State of Indiana’s action and will continue to direct the City Administrator to deny the use of City dollars for travel to Indiana as long as this discriminatory law remains in effect,” Schaaf said.
Denver, Colorado, Mayor Michael Hancock also joined the expanding group of leaders imposing state and city-wide travel to Indiana on the government’s dime.
“Denver is an inclusive city, and we take tremendous pride in that,” Hancock said. “Due to the actions taken by the State of Indiana, we will join with other cities across the nation in suspending the use of city funds for official business to Indiana. This law is just wrong, plain and simple, and we will not tacitly condone discrimination through the use of taxpayer dollars.”
Celebrities and entertainers have also announced cancellations of events in the state in response to the controversial law, including rock band Wilco and husband/wife comedy duo Nick Offerman and Megan Mullalley, known for their roles in the hit show Parks And Recreation.
“We’re canceling our 5/7 show in Indianapolis. ‘Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination,” Wilco stated on social media. “Hope to get back to the Hoosier State someday soon, when this odious measure is repealed. Refunds available at point of purchase.”
Despite the intense backlash surrounding the law, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has continually stood by it, claiming that it does not discriminate and citing similar federal legislation from 1993 signed by President Bill Clinton.
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