President Wong lifts controversial ban on University travel to Indiana

SF State President Leslie E. Wong lifted the ban on University-funded travel to Indiana Friday.

The lift of the ban would take effect immediate, Wong said in a mass email.  Wong implemented the ban last month in protest to the state’s religious freedom laws.

“I believe that statements made by businesses, municipalities and our University helped to shed light on the discriminatory nature of Indiana’s recent legislation, and that these actions were effective in achieving necessary changes to the language,” Wong said in the statement.

SF State was the first university in the U.S. to take concrete action against Indiana, home to the NCAA headquarters, although five Indiana college presidents released statements condemning the law. Wong’s ban followed the announcement by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee March 28 that banned city-funded travel to Indiana on business for public employees.

Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act allowed for-profit businesses to cite religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party for discrimination and has been widely interpreted to target the LGBT community.

Following a national uproar, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law April 2 revisions to the RFRA that intend to amend the legislation, stating that the law does not allow business owners to refuse service or use as a defense in a lawsuit on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Clearly the pressure brought to bear by major businesses, advocates and supporters was most successful,” Wong said. “Both Indiana and Arkansas quickly saw the shortsightedness of their policies and moved quickly to change them. The point was made, change happened and respect for LGBTQ rights and dignities were upheld.”