San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, the only Republican mayor of a major U.S. city, joined the “Boycott Indiana” bandwagon, banning city travel Monday to the state over its recent Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics have called anti-gay. “We’ve directed the City’s Chief Operating Officer to take the necessary actions to restrict publicly funded travel by city employees to Indiana if the law is not amended or repealed by next week,” said Faulconer’s spokesperson.
The Indiana legislation does not mention sexuality or legalize discrimination on the basis of sexuality (which is already legal in Indiana and in most of the United States, since gay, lesbian, transgendered, and “queer” people have not generally been defined as a protected class under civil rights laws). Rather, the law–which is similar to laws in 19 other states and at the federal level–protects freedom of religion from some future laws that might affect it, including anti-discrimination law.
The original, federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 with bipartisan support, was not prompted by issues regarding sexuality, but by a controversy over whether a Native American group should be allowed to use peyote, a hallucinogen, in religious ceremonies. Court decisions striking down the group’s First Amendment arguments for free exercise of its religious faith prompted Congress to act to strengthen religious freedom under the law.
When Democratic councilman Todd Gloria originally suggested the travel ban on Monday, Mayor Faulconer declined. He changed his mind rapidly, however. No indication has yet been given for the shift. Several Democratic officials around the nation have also joined the “Boycott Indiana” movement, which gained traction rapidly on social media. However, many of those leaders are from states that have their own versions of Indiana’s religion law, including Illinois and Connecticut.