POLITICS

Denver Mayor Bans Government Travel To Indiana Over Religious Freedom Law

03/31/2015 08:10 pm ET | Updated Mar 31, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) on Tuesday banned city employees from using public funds for non-essential travel to Indiana, citing the state's controversial new religious freedom law.

"Denver is an inclusive city, and we take tremendous pride in that," Hancock said in a statement. "Due to the actions taken by the State of Indiana, we will join with other cities across the nation in suspending the use of city funds for official business to Indiana. This law is just wrong, plain and simple, and we will not tacitly condone discrimination through the use of taxpayer dollars."

Hancock joins the mayors of Portland, Oregon, San Francisco and Seattle in banning official travel to Indiana. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued a similar ban on Tuesday. On Monday, Connecticut became the first state to block official travel to Indiana over the new law.

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence (R) last week, allows businesses or individuals to cite religious beliefs as a legal defense when sued for discrimination by a private party. Opponents contend the law allows businesses to openly discriminate if they don't want to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.

The law has been widely criticized and condemned in recent days. Pence vowed on Tuesday to back an amendment clarifying that the law does not allow businesses to deny service to anyone.

Pence has steadfastly defended the law, repeatedly comparing it with an existing federal statute. Critics, however, point out that the Indiana law allows businesses to claim religious views and to invoke those views against individuals. The federal law addresses disputes between individuals and the government.

HUFFPOST READERS: If you live in Indiana, we want to hear about how this law is affecting you. Email your story or any tips to openreporting@huffingtonpost.com. Include your name, the city you live in, and a phone number if you're willing to be contacted by a reporter.

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