Governor Dannel P. Malloy revoked his travel ban between Connecticut and Indiana on Saturday following the latter state’s amendment to its controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The RFRA, originally signed in on March 26, was met with widespread criticism from various state and local governments, organizations such as the NCAA and a host of Fortune 500 CEOs after concerns surfaced about the law’s purported ability to unfairly target LGBTQ citizens and other minority groups.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence adjusted the RFRA to protect LGBTQ people in response to the overwhelming critical backlash. The revised law now explicitly bans private businesses from denying services to a citizen based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Pence reaffirmed that the law was never designed to discriminate against LGBTQ peoples but expressed his commitment to “resolving this controversy, making clear that every person feels welcome and respected.”
“Over the past week this law has become a subject of great misunderstanding and controversy across our state and nation. However we got here, we are where we are, and it is important that our state takes action to address the concerns that have been raised and moves forward,” said Pence in a press release Thursday evening.
The governors of Connecticut, Washington and New York State have lifted their ban on state-funded travel following the amendment in a gesture of support.
“Today I am lifting [the] ban on state funded travel to Indiana, because I believe the change enacted by the Indiana legislature sufficiently clarifies, in our interpretation, that the law cannot be used to invite discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Malloy in yesterday’s press release.
Although the law’s amendment marks a palpable victory for LGBTQ supporters, both sides of the argument have expressed disappointment in Pence’s decision. Opponents of the law believe Indiana should repeal the measure entirely and establish new laws to protect LGBTQ citizens from persecution, while many supporters of the original law believe the fix disallows them to express their religious values.
Indiana’s amendment has quelled the immediate furor surrounding the controversial issue of LGBTQ rights, but the mixed reactions to Pence’s decision demonstrate the debate is still very much alive.
Additionally, the travel-ban’s lift bodes well for the any of the University of Connecticut’s future events scheduled to take place in Indiana, as state-funded travel can resume without interference.
Malloy addressed the ultimate intention of his brief ban in his press release.
“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.”