WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – With unrest growing nationally following the passing of the “religious freedom” law in Indiana, pressure is mounting on elected New York officials to speak out against the perceived civil rights violations.
Around the country, there has been an outcry from both private and public citizens deriding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was passed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, which could potentially give businesses a loophole and option to exercise certain biases.
As recently as Monday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy became the latest official to sign an executive order banning state-funded travel to states that have enacted legislation to protect religious freedom, but do not prohibit discrimination for other classes of citizens.
In response, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the state legislation – including Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assembly members Deborah Glick, Matthew Titone, Danny O’Donnell and Harry Bronson – drafted a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to follow a similar suit in protest of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“We write to you as the only openly LGBT members of the New York State Legislature to urge you to immediately sign an executive order barring state funded travel in the state of Indiana in light of its openly discriminatory new law, the so called ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act,’ signed into law last week,” they said in a joint statement.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by Pence last week, permits business owners in the state to deny certain services if it proves to go against widely held religious beliefs. Those against the legislation have argued that it is a way to target the LGBT community.
“Indiana’s new law is uniquely abhorrent and alarming,” the letter continued. “The RFRA allows businesses to assert a right to ‘the free exercise of religion,’ essentially giving corporations the same ‘free exercise’ rights traditionally reserved for individuals, as well as a defense against lawsuits by an individual. These troubling provisions open the door for state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people cloaked in the guise of ‘religious freedom.’”
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