If you haven’t heard recently, several U.S. areas including Denver, New York, Washington D.C., Connecticut, and San Francisco have issued bans on state-funded travel to Indiana… but why?
Last week, Indiana governor Mike Pence signed a “religious freedom” bill that could legalize discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender people. The bill is called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and was created to help individuals and corporations defend themselves against a suing private party by allowing them to cite their religious beliefs as a defense.
In an article by Huffington Post, Pence says: ” I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith. The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”
The problem that many see with this act is that it can open the door to discrimination – particularly among the LGBT community. As soon as Pence signed the bill, trouble began in Indiana. Many companies and organizations threatened to discontinue their annual events held in Indianapolis. This included Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in the country that brings around $50 million to the city.
As word got out, other states around the country began protesting against the bill by banning non-essential state-funded travel to Indiana. While cities like D.C. and Seattle were quick to respond, Connecticut became the first whole state to issue a ban.
In an article by Fox News, Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy said, “We cannot sit idly by and do nothing while laws are enacted that will turn back the clock.”
While the idea behind the act may seem like a positive one, it could end up overriding some of the laws already in place in Indiana that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation. And even with the new law in place, it’s not a given that state judges will rule in a business’s favor. In the end, no one is quite sure how the law will affect the state of Indiana; only time will tell.