ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday lifted a ban on some state-funded travel to Indiana, citing changes made to a religious-objections law that had spurred concern about anti-gay discrimination.
Cuomo enacted New York’s ban Tuesday, saying he sought to ensure that gay people’s rights are respected. The Democrat governor, who campaigned for and signed the state’s 2011 law allowing gay marriage, was one of a number of governors and mayors to enact similar travel prohibitions.
Now “I believe the changes enacted by the Indiana executive and Legislature should prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from being used to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender citizens and travelers,” the Cuomo said in a statement Saturday.
New York City has also lifted its ban on non-essential travel to the state, the mayor’s office said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy repealed a similar travel prohibition in his state.
New York’s ban on non-essential, state-paid trips had applied to all state agencies and public colleges and universities. That meant students and professors couldn’t participate in athletic or academic events in Indiana.
Controversy arose in recent weeks over new Indiana and Arkansas measures that barred state and local governments from impinging on people’s ability to follow their religious beliefs, with some limitations.
Supporters said the legislation would protect religious liberties. But critics said they could be used to discriminate against gays. Some big businesses, including Apple and Wal-Mart, joined gay rights advocates and others in decrying such laws.
The Republican governors of both states signed amended versions of the laws Thursday, hoping to quiet the outcry. The Indiana version was changed to prohibit businesses from using the law as a defense for denying service based on someone’s sexual orientation.
In Arkansas, the changes more closely aligned the state’s measure with the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.