Although Republican leaders of the Indiana state House and Senate have continued to insist their recent measure, billed as a “religious freedom law,” did not permit discrimination against the gay and lesbian community, lawmakers announced plans to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act at a press conference Thursday.
The law had initially been enacted in Indiana last week, which opponents said would allow those who could cite religious faith to claim protection from certain laws or regulations. As a result, in anticipation of similar measures being passed in other parts of the country, including Arkansas, critics of the measure rallied against the bill across the nation.
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement banning non-essential state travel to Indiana stating, “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.”
In addition, Mayor Lovely Warren stated, “Rochester, N.Y. has long been the ‘Hometown of Equality’ in America. As the home of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas, Rochester has been a stalwart for freedom, and a beacon of progress for those seeking justice and equality. I cannot support the use of our residents’ tax dollars to fund travel to states who adopt policies that fly directly in the face of what our community has always stood for.”
The coaching staff at several New York colleges, including SUNY Binghamton, Stony Brook, and Albany, also threatened to boycott the NCAA Final Four, which is being held in Indianapolis this weekend.
NCAA president Mark Emmert released the following statement regarding the amendment:
“We are very pleased the Indiana legislature is taking action to amend Senate Bill 101, so that it is clear individuals cannot be discriminated against. NCAA core values call for an environment that is inclusive and non-discriminatory for our student-athletes, membership, fans, staff and their families. We look forward to the amended bill being passed quickly and signed into law expeditiously by the governor.”
The proposed new amendment to the bill says the law, “does not authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service.”
“We are sorry that that misinterpretation hurt so many people,” said House speaker Brian C. Bosma. “I think the national concerns that were raised, that we’re all hearing about, are put to bed.”
Companies like Apple, Nascar, Eli Lilly, Angie’s List, the Indiana Pacers, Salesforce, Twitter and Yelp also criticized the initial law in the state.
Subsequently, Gov. Mike Pence had ordered lawmakers to come up with an addition, or “a fix,” to the law, by the end of this week.