Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy banned state-funded travel to Indiana over its passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses in that state to cite religious beliefs as a legal defense.
“No state should use religious grounds to be the basis for discrimination against anyone in our country,” Malloy said Monday.
Indiana doesn’t have statewide nondiscrimination laws that protect sexual orientation and gender identity, and many, including Malloy, believe the new law will be used to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
He said there’s no way to interpret what has happened in Indiana over the past few months as anything other than “a desire to establish a legal form of discrimination. Period.”
Discussion of the legislation in Indiana was raised after the Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal to ban same-sex marriages in that state. Other states with religious freedom laws passed them largely back in the 1990s after passage of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Malloy signed an executive order Monday banning state-funded travel to any state that discriminates based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Somebody’s got to stand up to this kind of bigotry and I’m prepared to do that,” Malloy said.
Earlier in the day, Malloy tweeted his disapproval of Indiana’s law before he drafted and signed the executive order banning state-funded travel to the state. He said people have the right to believe what they want to believe, but they don’t have a right to discriminate based on what they believe.
Indiana Gov. Michael Pence has said he has no desire to modify the law.
“This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it,” Pence said in a statement last Thursday when he signed the bill . “In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved.”
Pence’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to requests to comment on Malloy’s executive order.
But Republican lawmakers in Indiana are talking about clarifying the law, according to news reports. Malloy, however, said they should repeal it.
“That’s a black mark against the state of Indiana,” Malloy said.
Malloy, who will be the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association next year, said in Connecticut we don’t believe in discriminating against people.
“The idea that somebody from Connecticut, who complies with the law here, can go to another state and be discriminated against, is abhorrent,” Malloy said.
The executive order Malloy signed covers all of state government, including the University of Connecticut.
The NCAA plans on holding the Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four in Indianapolis next year. It’s currently hosting the Men’s Basketball Final Four, but the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team didn’t make the tournament this year.
It’s unclear what contractual obligations the University of Connecticut or the Board of Regents has with colleges and universities in Indiana.
“I would hope that they don’t play Indiana in Indiana,” Malloy said. “I would hope we make those kinds of changes.”
Malloy applauded the strong statements made by NCAA president Mark Emmert. However, it’s unclear whether a new location will be chosen for next year’s final four.
“Gay men and woman play for the NCAA. Why would you have a tournament in a state that has just passed laws to allow those athletes to be discriminated against?” Malloy said.
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team has been to the NCAA Final Four 12 times over the past 15 years.