Mayor Hales bans city-funded travel to Indiana

Seattle mayor also instituted a similar ban for the same reason

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Dec. 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Dec. 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the wake of Indiana instituting a new law that could foster discrimination against gays and lesbians, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales instituted a ban on city-funded travel to the state.

Hales will issue the temporary suspension later Monday, a press release from his office said. The Portland City Council will also take up the issue on Wednesday.

“Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature have to understand that such blatant discrimination against their own citizens cannot stand. We, as a country, have moved so far from those shameful practices of the past,” Hales said in a statement. “It is regrettable that the great city of Indianapolis, led by its very effective mayor, Greg Ballard, is being dragged down by the reactionary efforts of the State Legislature and the governor.”

Pence appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” to discuss the measure he signed last week prohibiting state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

Since the Republican governor signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the nation, as well as on social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana. Already, consumer review service Angie’s List has said it will suspend a planned expansion in Indianapolis because of the new law.

Pence did not answer directly when asked at least six times whether under the law it would be legal for a merchant to refuse to serve gay customers. “This is not about discrimination, this is about empowering people to confront government overreach,” he said. Asked again, he said, “Look, the issue here is still is tolerance a two-way street or not.”

Sexual orientation is not covered under Indiana’s civil rights law. Pence has said he “won’t be pursuing that.”

The governor told the Indianapolis Star on Saturday that he was in discussions with legislative leaders over the weekend and expects a clarification bill to be introduced in the coming week. He addressed that Sunday, saying, “if the General Assembly … sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, then I’m open to that.”

But Pence was adamant that the measure, slated to take effect in July, will stick. “We’re not going to change this law,” he said.

Hales’ order follows a similar path from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

Murray, who is the city’s first openly gay mayor, says Seattleites know that discrimination has no place in their city. He says the new law doesn’t reflect the city’s values.

The mayor says Seattle is a leader in the fight to protect civil rights and ensuring equality for all people. For that reason, he says no taxpayer money will support a discriminatory law.

Other states than Indiana have similar laws, but “Indiana’s is different than the others because the Legislature and governor specifically decided not to protect GLBT residents,” said Dana Haynes, the spokesperson for Mayor Hales.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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