Some San Diego city leaders are holding off on a city-funded travel ban to Indiana amid news the state would work to amend a controversial Indiana measure signed into law last week.
Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, has cast a sharp divide between those who say the bill protects religious freedoms and those who say the legislation authorizes discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The measure signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence last week does not allow for a state law to “substantially burden” another person’s ability to adhere to their religious beliefs.
Critics have said that the state law, where the definition of person would include businesses, associations and religious institutions, would allow for discrimination.
Several celebrities have canceled appearances in Indiana because of the public outcry over the measure. The head of the NCAA said he was "deeply concerned" about the issue in advance of the Final Four games scheduled there Saturday.
Several mayors from other cities have already put travel bans in place. However, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he is waiting to see what Pence's proposed changes will do to the controversial law before enacting a travel ban with public funds.
A travel ban to Indiana could have a real impact on Indianapolis because the U.S. Conference of Mayors is scheduled to be held there in 2016. If changes to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not made, Faulconer has said he will not attend.
After a press conference held Tuesday, where Gov. Pence said lawmakers would work to amend the law, Faulconer's Chief of Staff Matt Awbrey told NBC 7 the office would welcome an amendment to the law. Because of Cesar Chavez day, future travel plan records were not immediately available.
"Assuming Indiana follows through with Governor Pence's amendment that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone, there will be no changes to the travel policy," said Awbrey.
Council member Todd Gloria said that a travel ban would send a strong message to the state that other states will not support such a measure.
For Gloria, a law like the one passed in Indiana is personal.
“As a gay man of color, I’ve been dealing with bullies since junior high,” Gloria said. “The best way to handle bullies, I’ve found, is to fight back. This is about fighting back and making it very clear that we won’t allow this type of discrimination to stand.”
Late Monday, Gloria called on Faulconer and Council President Sherri Lightner to block public funds in San Diego for travel to Indiana until the law is amended or repealed in a memorandum.
“San Diego should join these other jurisdictions that have demonstrated their leadership for equality and let it be known that San Diego will rise up against these discriminatory practices taking place in our nation,” the memorandum said.
Prior to Pence's press conference, the mayor's office had asked the City’s Chief Operating Officer to restrict publicly funded travel by city employees to Indiana “if the law is not amended or repealed by next week.”
“I believe in equal rights for all,” Faulconer said in a Tweet. “Discrimination has no place in our society. I join @MayorBallard in calling for the repeal of #SB101.”