ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that he is restricting travel by state workers to Indiana amid the rising controversy over that state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Cuomo’s executive order directs all state government-related entities to review requests for state-funded travel to Indiana and ban non-essential travel by state workers to the state. Travel for law enforcement or health-related matters are exempt.
“New York State has been, and will continue to be, a leader in ensuring that all LGBT persons enjoy full and equal civil rights,” Cuomo said, referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. This action, he said, shows that the state stands by “our LGBT family members, friends and colleagues to ensure that their rights are respected.”
Five gay state lawmakers earlier Tuesday called on Cuomo to take the step after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a new law to promote religious freedoms that critics say will lead to discrimination by businesses based on sexual orientation. Connecticut on Monday became the first state to ban such travel to Indiana.
The Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said that many New Yorkers are confused about the new Indiana law because of a “barrage of misinformation” by the media. He called the controversy “utterly and completely bogus” and said the new Indiana law is designed to “protect persons of faith from being coerced by government into acting in ways that violated their deeply held beliefs.”
New York Republican Chairman Edward F. Cox said that Cuomo’s state travel ban to Indiana should now also prod the governor into canceling a trip he is planning to Cuba. Cox said Cuba bans gay marriages, adding that it has imprisoned political dissidents and that the “Castro regime is on the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list.”
“Or,” Cox said of Cuomo, “he can admit that both moves are political stunts meant to bolster his national profile with no grounding in reality or substance.”