Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, is the latest politician to step into the fray of the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act (RFRA) controversy, and has now banned state funded travel to Indiana. In a move that follows in the footsteps of the mayors of both San Francisco and Seattle, Malloy has announced that he is signing an executive order that would stop travel between the states funded by taxpayers.
The announcement was made via the governor’s Twitter page, to his followers. Not only did he mention signing the executive order, but he also said that people cannot sit back and allow laws that will set back the clocks of equality. Instead, he said it was important to send a message that discrimination is something that will not be tolerated.
After signing the bill on Monday, the Connecticut governor also suggested that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) should move the Final Four out of the state of Indiana. He said if that is at all possible, then that is something that should be done, if the law is not changed in order to protect against possible discrimination.
Although Governor Malloy is banning state funded travel between Connecticut and Indiana, he did say that his state would honor any contractual obligations that were already in place. He also said, however, that there would not be any new ones made. Malloy made it clear that someone needs to stand against this type of bigotry, and that he is prepared to be that person.
The governor said that he refused to allow the citizens of Connecticut to be discriminated against in other states, at least not without putting up some type of a fight. Malloy outright called the Indiana law, disgraceful, disturbing and discriminatory.
RFRA is a protection that overrides state laws that might put a burden against a person’s ability to follow their own religious beliefs. As critics point out, this would allow a person, business, organization or association to turn away a person for being gay, a lesbian or any other descriptor, all in the name of those religious beliefs. While many proponents of the bill point out that there are a number of states with this bill already in place, there is a fundamental difference in the case of Indiana.
Indiana has civil rights laws that actually do not ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Therefore a person using RFRA to turn a person away for being gay, can legally do that without the fear of being prosecuted. When it was pointed out to Malloy that Connecticut also has RFRA protections signed into law, he responded by pointing out that the laws in the state do not allow religion to be a reason for any form of discrimination.
The bill that Connecticut Governor Malloy has signed, banning state funded travel to Indiana, will also apply to any other states that sign the controversial bill into law. This new bill will prevent state funded travel to any state that has religious protections, that also allows for discriminatory practices to occur against not only LGBT people but also any other group in the name of religion.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo by The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia – Flickr License