Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf Bans City Travel to Indiana in Protest of "Religious Freedom" Law

By Sam Levin
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 5:01 PM

click to enlarge Libby Schaaf. - BERT JOHNSON / FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson / file photo
  • Libby Schaaf.
On the heels of a similar ban in San Francisco, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced today that the city won't spend its public dollars for business travel to Indiana in protest of the state's controversial "religious freedom" law that critics say is anti-LGBT. Schaaf's action comes as cities and companies across the country have announced formal boycotts and protests of Indiana in response to the state's recently enacted "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which says the state cannot "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion."

Opponents say this measure would clearly make it easier for businesses to discriminate against LGBT people — though Indiana Governor Mike Pence, in the wake of national backlash, has pushed for a new law clarifying that the law does not permit discrimination. 

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Regardless of the ongoing damage control efforts in Indiana, cities like Oakland are moving forward with official measures to protest the law. Schaaf said in a statement this afternoon: "As Mayor of Oakland, I join with jurisdictions, private citizens, businesses and other entities around the world in denouncing the State of Indiana’s action and will continue to direct the City Administrator to deny the use of City dollars for travel to Indiana as long as this discriminatory law remains in effect.”

In addition to directing the city administrator to halt the use of city dollars for business travel to Indiana, Schaaf said she has also asked the Oakland City Council to pass a resolution that would ban city-paid business trips to Indiana. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee passed a similar measure a few days ago, and Marc Benioff, San Francisco-based CEO of Salesforce, was one of the first business leaders to cancel company business in Indiana in protest of the new law.

Here's Schaaf's full statement: 
Last week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law SB568 – The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gives businesses in Indiana license to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals by denying services.

Given Oakland’s longstanding support for equal rights and opposition to any form of discrimination, today, I directed the City Administrator not to approve the use of City dollars for business travel to Indiana. I have also reached out to the Oakland City Council, asking that they pass a resolution that would ban City-paid business travel to Indiana citywide.

As one of the most diverse cities in America, Oakland has been at the forefront of promoting the equitable treatment of its residents and fostering an atmosphere that promotes inclusion and the protection of our fundamental civil rights.

As Mayor of Oakland, I join with jurisdictions, private citizens, businesses and other entities around the world in denouncing the State of Indiana’s action and will continue to direct the City Administrator to deny the use of City dollars for travel to Indiana as long as this discriminatory law remains in effect.

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