Less than a week after banning state-funded travel to Indiana in protest of a religious freedom law criticized for opening the door to discrimination against LGBT individuals, Gov. Dannel Malloy has reversed the executive order.
Malloy, who originally issued the ban on March 30, rescinded it on Saturday, saying that he was responding to a recent clarification of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This amendment passed both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly and was then signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Thursday night. The adjusted law now explicitly includes protections for LGBT individuals, stating that it does not authorize businesses in the state to discriminate based on religious beliefs, and providers cannot use the law as a defense in a court for denying services to customers.
“Unlike Connecticut — which has been a national leader in LGBTQ protections — this is the first time that Indiana has codified any protections for individuals based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Malloy said in a press release. “While the law even in its amended version remains divisive, I believe it is a step in the right direction.“
Pence, who signed the original act on March 26, quickly became the object of public backlash from the NCAA and corporations such as Wal-Mart, Apple and Twitter. Two other states — Washington and New York — moved to ban travel to Indiana, while cities including Seattle and Denver also issued bans. And, on Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo retracted his ban independently of Malloy’s announcement.
Pence later requested that clarifications of the law’s language make their way onto his desk.
In a statement last Thursday, Pence highlighted that, in spite of the clarifications, the law will still enhance protections for religious organizations and individuals in cases where religious liberty may be infringed upon by government actions. The law will also enhance protection for individuals and businesses in religious liberty cases that do not entail providing services, goods, employment or housing.
“There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first and ask myself every day, ‘What is best for Indiana?’” Pence said in the statement. “I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana.”
Malloy said Saturday that he plans to continue to monitor other states that pass reforms similar to Indiana’s RFRA, underscoring Connecticut’s obligation to protect against discrimination.
Chairman of the Government and Politics Department at Sacred Heart University Gary Rose told the News last week that Malloy issued the ban with the idea of elevating his own profile in the national Democratic Party in mind.
“Everything Malloy does has a political dimension to it,” Rose said.