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States end travel ban to Indiana after ‘religious freedom’ law amended to protect LGBTIs

States end travel ban to Indiana after ‘religious freedom’ law amended to protect LGBTIs

State government employees from New York State, Washington and Connecticut can once again travel to the state of Indiana after it relented over its Religious Freedom Restoration Bill which would have allowed people of faith to discriminate against pretty much anyone they wanted to.

The travel ban included all state agency employees as well as public colleges and universities so the ban covered state sponsored trips by students and teachers as well.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence amended the bill on Thursday after public figures and major corporations across America condemned its potential to be used to discriminate against members of the LGBTI community and signaled that it would make it problematic for them to do business in or with Indiana.

The new version of the bill expressly states that it cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against someone based on their sexuality.

‘The new amendment prohibits businesses and individuals from refusing service or goods to potential clients based on that client’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics,’ Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement issued to cabinet agencies.

‘This is a promising step toward greater cultural inclusion and acceptance for LGBT communities. Accordingly, I am lifting the ban on publicly funded non-essential travel to Indiana.’

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joined Inslee in publicly lifting his state’s travel ban to Indiana.

‘After reviewing the amendments made to Indiana’s state law and consulting with LGBT advocacy groups here in New York, I believe the changes enacted by the Indiana Executive and Legislature should prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from being used to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender citizens and traveler,’ Cuomo said.

‘As a result, I am lifting New York’s ban against state funded and state sponsored travel to Indiana, effective immediately … Our nation’s Constitution ensures equality and justice for all. We must never forget that “all” does not mean “some”, but all of us and we will continue to fight and stand up for equality until it is a reality for all Americans.’

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy noted that this was the first time that the state of Indiana had ever codified any kind of legal protection for people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

‘While the law even in its amended version remains divisive, I believe it is a step in the right direction,’ Malloy said, ‘In 2015, we cannot, and should not, tolerate laws that open the door to discrimination against citizens.’

‘We need to actively stand up to them – and that’s what we did this week. We are gratified that several other states, businesses, trade organizations, and so many stood with us, and we are pleased that numerous states besides Indiana have sought or are seeking changes in their laws with the specific aim of preventing discrimination.

‘We will continue to monitor other states that enact reforms similar to the original Indiana RFRA, because discrimination in any form is unacceptable. We cannot watch states pass laws that seek to turn back the clock either on Connecticut residents, or our fellow Americans. We have an obligation to do what’s right, and to protect against discrimination whenever and wherever we see it.’