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Washington, New York, Connecticut Rescind Indiana Travel Bans


Washington, New York, and Connecticut have all lifted their bans on state-funded travel to Indiana following Gov. Mike Pence's signature on an amended "religious freedom" law that prohibits it from being used to discriminate against LGBT individuals.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued the following notice to cabinet agencies:

Earlier this week, after the state of Indiana passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), IC 34-13-9, I ordered executive-level agencies and small cabinet agencies to prohibit publicly funded non-essential travel to Indiana. I issued my order because Indiana's RFRA opened the door to allowing private companies to discriminate against individuals in that state, in sharp contrast to our own state's long commitment to diversity and inclusion. My order stated that the travel ban would remain in effect so long as Indiana's law existed in its original form.

In response to the intense public criticism stemming from the passage of Indiana's RFRA, the Indiana Legislature moved quickly to fix the law. Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed legislation amending the law and remedying the most egregious elements of the law. The new amendment prohibits businesses and individuals from refusing service or goods to potential clients based on that client's sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics. This is a promising step toward greater cultural inclusion and acceptance for LGBT communities. Accordingly, I am lifting the ban on publicly funded non-essential travel to Indiana.

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's statement:

“After reviewing the amendments made to Indiana’s state law and consulting with LGBT advocacy groups here in New York, 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. As a result, I am lifting New York's ban against state funded and state sponsored travel to Indiana, effective immediately.  

“Here in New York, we believe that all Americans, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation or any other protected classes, should be treated equally under the law. Our nation's Constitution ensures equality and justice for all. We must never forget that 'all' does not mean 'some', but all of us and we will continue to fight and stand up for equality until it is a reality for all Americans.”​​

Said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy:

“Unlike Connecticut – which has been a national leader in LGBTQ protections – this is the first time that Indiana has codified any protections for individuals based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity. While the law even in its amended version remains divisive, I believe it is a step in the right direction.
“In 2015, we cannot, and should not, tolerate laws that open the door to discrimination against citizens. We need to actively stand up to them – and that’s what we did this week. We are gratified that several other states, businesses, trade organizations, and so many stood with us, and we are pleased that numerous states besides Indiana have sought or are seeking changes in their laws with the specific aim of preventing discrimination.
“We will continue to monitor other states that enact reforms similar to the original Indiana RFRA, because discrimination in any form is unacceptable. We cannot watch states pass laws that seek to turn back the clock either on Connecticut residents, or our fellow Americans. We have an obligation to do what’s right, and to protect against discrimination whenever and wherever we see it.”
It continues to remain completely legal to discriminate against an individual based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in Indiana. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Bans State-Funded Travel to Indiana

Governor Andrew Cuomo today banned all state-funded travel to the state of Indiana over the anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

486px-Andrew_Cuomo_by_Pat_Arnow_croppedSaid Cuomo in a statement:

"Today, I direct all agencies, departments, boards and commissions to immediately review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the State of Indiana and to bar any such publicly funded travel that is not essential to the enforcement of state law or public health and safety. The ban on publicly funded travel shall take effect immediately.

"New York State has been, and will continue to be, a leader in ensuring that all LGBT persons enjoy full and equal civil rights. With this action, we stand by our LGBT family members, friends and colleagues to ensure that their rights are respected."

New York joins Connecticut, and the cities of Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco in banning travel to Indiana.

(image pat arnow wikimedia commons)

Former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn Joins Cuomo Administration as Adviser

Former NYC City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn is joining Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration as a special adviser to the governor, the NY Daily News reports:

Nyt_quinnQuinn will be a part-time staffer until mid-April when she finishes her stint as a resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, a source said. After that, she will jump on board full-time. Her salary is unclear, though it will be lower while she's on the payroll part-time, the source said.

Said Cuomo in a statement: “Christine Quinn is a proven leader and champion of progressive causes, and I am proud to have her join our team. I am confident that she will fight for the issues most important to New Yorkers just as she did as Speaker of the City Council and during her many years as a public servant and advocate.”

The WSJ adds:

The former speaker made her first public appearance in her new role Saturday morning at New York University, where the governor announced a proposal to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

“I want to take a moment to thank you, governor, because you have made the issue of women’s equality–women deserving full equality–a priority,” Ms. Quinn said...

...Mr. Cuomo and Ms. Quinn exchanged a few jokes before their announcement. “Chris said to me, ‘I’m glad to be here, but let me ask you: Do we always work on Saturdays?’ ” Mr. Cuomo said. “I told her, ‘No, just once a week, really.’ ”

Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo Dies at 82

Three term New York governor Mario Cuomo has passed away at the age of 82, family sources have confirmed to news outlets.

CuomoNY1 reports:

This comes just hours after Andrew Cuomo was publicly inaugurated for his second term as the 56th governor of New York.

Governor Cuomo said in his speech at One World Trade Center that his father was unable to attend because he was too ill. He also said he and his family had spent New Year's eve with the senior Cuomo.

Cuomo, who served as governor from 1983-1994 and as keynote speaker at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, was known as an eloquent spokesman for progressive causes. 

One of Cuomo's more notable spats during his three decades in politics was with former New York City mayor Ed Koch, who challenged Cuomo for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 1977 NYC mayoral race. During the campaign, signs appeared on city streets saying "Vote for Cuomo, not the homo" in reference to Koch's rumored sexuality. Cuomo categorically denied responsibility for the signs, but Koch maintained a grudge against Cuomo and his son Andrew.

Cuomo had been hospitalized last month for a heart condition. 

New York Governor Cuomo Announces Task Force To End AIDS Epidemic


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is following through on the promise he made last June to end the AIDS epidemic with the formation of a Task Force to help bring about that end. The Task Force will be supplemented by two advisory groups - The Public Official Advisory Group and The Public Awareness Ambassadors - in the near future and plan to bring the annual HIV infections down to a mere 750 per year by 2020.

The plan will doubtlessly become complex and more fully-detailed as the groups come into being, but for now the Task Force and advisory groups plan to combat AIDS and HIV infections by:

  1. Identifying people with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care;
  2. Linking and retaining people diagnosed with HIV to health care and getting them on anti-HIV therapy to maximize HIV virus suppression so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission; and
  3. Providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk people to keep them HIV negative.

The first meeting of the Task Force was held this past Tuesday with four more meetings planned for the future, all of which will be open to the public and can be watched online at

Michelangelo Signorile: Burger King's 'Proud Burger' Is A Tax Evasion Cover-Up


Writing on The Huffington Post, Michelangelo Signorile argues that companies, political donors and other entities are courting LGBT people in order to cover up criticism of unethical and questionable actions.

Signorile points out that corporate support for LGBT rights is easier for companies than it has been in the past and that many of these organizations need the support of LGBT people.

Arguing that Burger King’s recent actions hurt the economy and workers, he says that the Proud Whopper is an attempt to allow the company to remove attention from the fact that it is “fleeing to Canada, buying up Tim Hortons, following other American companies engaged in so-called tax inversions, all to avoid paying U.S. taxes."

SignorileSignorile continues that although Republican megadonor Paul Singer has given money to LGBT groups and GOP politicians who already support LGBT rights, the hedge fund billionaire is also giving millions to anti-gay candidates via right-wing groups and super PACs.

He goes on to points out that Democrats are as much to blame as Republicans, noting that although Governor Andrew Cuomo supported marriage equality in New York, his recent actions, including budget cuts, have diminished the rights of all workers, be they gay or straight.

Getting straight to the point, Signorile concludes:

“The fact that Burger King so publicly supports LGBT rights shouldn't matter. We should be past the point of being giddy over a nice wrapper. Corporations that dodge paying U.S. taxes while making billions from American consumers are wreaking havoc. We should all be sending a message to the fast-food giant that it is hurting America -- gay America, straight America, all of America.”


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