NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Bans Non-Essential Travel to Indiana Over Religious Freedom Law

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks about the New York Secure Amunitions and Firearms Act in Albany, N.Y., Jan. 15, 2013.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks about the New York Secure Amunitions and Firearms Act in Albany, N.Y., Jan. 15, 2013. | (Photo: Reuters/Hans Pennink)

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, issued a ban on all non-essential state-sponsored travel to Indiana Tuesday in what he says is a stand in solidarity with gay rights advocates opposing the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by Republican Governor Mike Pence last week.

"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. The ban on publicly funded travel shall take effect immediately," said Cuomo in a statement Tuesday.

"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 LGBT family members, friends and colleagues to ensure that their rights are respected," added Cuomo.

The request for the ban came from a group of New York state lawmakers who sent a letter to Cuomo.

"Indiana's new law is uniquely abhorrent and alarming. The RFRA allows businesses to assert a right to 'the free exercise of religion' — essentially giving corporations the same 'free exercise' rights and defense against anti-discrimination lawsuits traditionally reserved for individuals. These troubling provisions open the door for state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people cloaked in the guise of religious freedom," noted the letter.

"These provisions make clear that Indiana businesses are permitted by law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in matters including housing, employment, and access to public accomodations," it noted.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, D, and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, D, also banned state-funded travel to Indiana on Monday.

Indiana's RFRA, like the federal RFRA, says the government cannot "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow their religious beliefs, unless it can prove a compelling interest in imposing that burden and it does so in the least restrictive way. Supporters of the law say it will prevent the government from unduly infringing on a person's ability to exercise their religious beliefs. Critics of the legislation say, however, that it legitimizes discrimination against LGBT individuals by businesses.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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