Malloy stands down in gay rights fight with Indiana

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

file photo / CTMIRROR.ORG

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy rescinded his ban on state-funded travel to Indiana on Saturday in response to what he called that state’s positive step toward clarifying a religious freedom law many deemed discriminatory to gays and lesbians.

“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,” Malloy said in an emailed statement.

Malloy, the incoming chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, signed an executive order Monday banning state-funded travel to Indiana, a rebuke to Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who faces re-election next year.

Under pressure from the NCAA and a wide range of businesses, Pence signed a revision late Thursday that, among other things, eliminates the potential erosion of local ordinances that outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana,” Pence said in a statement.

Critics of the religious freedom law, which was passed in response to a court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in Indiana, say the state still needs a state law outlawing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

“While the law even in its amended version remains divisive, I believe it is a step in the right direction,” Malloy said Saturday.

Malloy’s order prompted the coaching staff of UConn’s men’s basketball team to cancel a trip to Indianapolis to watch the men’s Final Four. The women’s Final Four is in Indianapolis next year.

“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,” Malloy said.

Connecticut has a religious freedom law passed in 1993 in response to a court decision allowing governments a stronger hand in infringing on religious rights when they come into conflict with state or federal laws.

The state already had in place a law banning discrimination in housing and employment on basis of sexual orientation.

“We will continue to monitor other states that enact reforms similar to the original Indiana RFRA, because discrimination in any form is unacceptable,” Malloy said. “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 do to what’s right, and to protect against discrimination whenever and wherever we see it.”

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