Mayor Jeri Muoio Places Ban on Official Travel to Indiana in Wake of "Religious Freedom" Law

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has received backlash nationwide over the idea that it could allow a business to discriminate against the LGBT community living in Indiana.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has received backlash nationwide over the idea that it could allow a business to discriminate against the LGBT community living in Indiana.
via Shutterstock.com

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio has joined the growing number of politicians and leaders across the country that have placed a travel ban to Indiana in response to the so-called religious freedom law Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law this week.

The law, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, has received backlash over the idea that it could allow a business to discriminate against the LGBT community living in the Hoosier State. 

Muoio joins other leaders across the U.S., such as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, in banning city- or state-funded travel to Indiana. Muoio is the first mayor in Florida to do so.

It was during Monday's City Commission meeting, and at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, that Muoio took action on the ban. 

"For more than two decades, West Palm Beach has been in the forefront, protecting the civil rights and ensuring equality for the LGBT community," said Muoio in a press release. "Until Indiana's discriminatory law is amended or repealed, West Palm Beach taxpayers will not subsidize legally sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people."

Muoio has also said she plans on asking the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who are scheduled to meet in Indianapolis next year, to move the meeting to another location, should Indiana not change the law.

Gov. Pence, meanwhile, has vehemently defended the law, despite national backlash from celebrities and even NASCAR, who say the law fosters discrimination and intolerance. The Indiana Pacers have also spoken out against the law.

With pressure mounting, the Indiana legislature said on Monday that it plans to now add language to the law to clarify that it doesn't mean that discrimination against the LGBT community is allowed.

"I don't think we've ever seen a reaction like this to the laws passed historically in the other states or when the federal government did it," said Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long via NBCConnecticut. "Clearly people are reacting differently to this law. We didn't see that coming."

Rand Hoch, president and founder of the Human Rights Council, says the Religious Freedom Restoration law is very clear in its discrimination language. 

"[The law] sanctions outright discrimination against LGBT people," Hoch says. "We commend Mayor Muoio for putting her strong beliefs against bigotry into action by prohibiting taxpayer dollars being used in Indiana."


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