April 2, 2015 at 11:00 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Hogan rejects request to ban state-funded travel to Indiana
gender identity, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has described a gay lawmaker’s request to ban state-funded travel to Indiana over its religious freedom law as “political grandstanding.” (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday rejected a gay lawmaker’s request to ban state-funded travel to Indiana over its religious freedom law.

The Republican governor’s office in a statement said that Hogan “stopped reading” state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County)’s letter to him “once he saw that his wife, the first lady, had been brought into the scenario.”

“I trust you share my deep concerns over the new, so-called religious freedom law in the state of Indiana and its implications for many elected and appointed representatives of Maryland,” wrote the Montgomery County Democrat in his March 31 letter to Hogan. “Your family, an exemplary ambassador for the state of Maryland, could be denied service due to a random business person, waiter or clerk’s objection to the first lady’s previous divorce.”

“My family could be denied service in Indiana because of my marriage to another man,” added Madaleno. “Many of our colleagues could also be denied service because of an Indiana business owner’s objection to a Marylander’s marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, appearance or a myriad of other excuses.”

Hogan’s office in its statement categorized Madaleno’s letter as “political grandstanding.”

“This type of political grandstanding is precisely what Maryland voters rejected in last year’s election,” it reads.

Madaleno on Thursday did not immediately return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

“We all have aspects about our lives that probably someone else would find offensive or objectionable from their own religious stance — but they shouldn’t be able to deny us service or discriminate against us because of it,” the Montgomery County Democrat told the Washington Post on Wednesday. “And that’s the point I was trying to make.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week sparked an immediate firestorm of controversy that includes growing calls to boycott the Hoosier State.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Tuesday issued an executive order banning all official travel to Indiana. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the mayors of San Francisco, Seattle and other cities are among those that have instituted similar policies.

Gay Maryland state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) this week in an open letter to Indiana businesses urged them to relocate to the Free State.

“Maryland is open for business, and — unlike Indiana — we treat all of our citizens with dignity and compassion,” he wrote. “I invite any business concerned about the impact of Indiana’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act to pack up and move to Maryland.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe earlier this week in a letter to the Indianapolis Star urged Indiana businesses to relocate to the commonwealth.

Hogan, who took office in January, said during his campaign he would not seek to repeal Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that voters approved during a 2012 referendum. The Republican initially delayed the implementation of a regulation to ban anti-LGBT discrimination among state Medicaid providers, but allowed it to take effect after advocacy groups criticized his initial decision.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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