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Cuomo, planning Cuba trip, bans state travel to Indiana

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks at Farmingdale State

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks at Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale Feb. 5, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo jumped on the boycott-Indiana bandwagon Tuesday over that state's passage of legislation criticized as sanctioning anti-gay discrimination. The state's Republican chairman then asked why Cuomo is still going to Cuba, where human rights are broadly trampled.

Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both announced bans on what they called nonessential trips by government employees to Indiana. Neither the governor's nor the mayor's office could immediately detail the current extent of such travel.

"Who knows?" de Blasio said when asked by reporters. "This is an issue that has come up in just the last day or so, and we can find out."

Cities and states across the nation issued travel bans after Indiana passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which prohibits government from forcing businesses to serve lesbian, gay and transgender people against a proprietor's religious beliefs.

Businesses and organizations including Apple and the NCAA, which is hosting basketball's Final Four in Indianapolis, also have voiced concerns.

Cuomo's statement said: "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."

New York "has been, and will continue to be, a leader in ensuring that all LGBT persons enjoy full and equal civil rights," said Cuomo, who championed legal same-sex marriage,

State GOP chairman Ed Cox said the ban is hypocritical when Cuomo is flying to Cuba on a trade mission April 20.

Cuomo "can cancel his upcoming trip to Cuba, where gay marriage is illegal [and] political dissidents are imprisoned and tortured," Cox said. "Or he can admit that both moves are political stunts meant to bolster his national profile with no grounding in reality or substance."

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican who signed the controversial law last week, called Tuesday for new legislation to clarify that it does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. "It certainly wasn't my intent," said Pence.

As Indiana backpedaled, Arkansas legislators passed a similar measure. It now goes to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has said he will sign it.

With AP

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