Mpls. fire officials to boycott Indiana over 'freedom' law

Updated: 7 p.m. | Posted: 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis fire officials will not travel to Indiana for a professional conference in protest of a new law there viewed as discriminatory against gay people.

Mayor Betsy Hodges confirmed Wednesday that Chief John Fruetel has decided not to send representatives to the conference as they usually do, supporting the mayor's position. Hodges said she's also asked the Minneapolis City Council to forbid the use of city funds for official business travel to Indiana.

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Minneapolis government becomes the latest organization to boycott Indiana over that state's recently enacted law allowing state businesses to refuse to serve same-sex couples based on religious grounds.

Supporters insisted it was a "religious freedom" bill that did not target discrimination against gay people. But the backlash has been intense. Lawmakers there recently promised to clarify the law.

"When weighed against the law that is in place there and the fact that we have a very diverse city workforce, that it's important not to be investing in that kind of bigotry," Hodges said.

The Council will vote on a proposal Friday that would prohibit using Minneapolis city funds to travel to Indiana.

St. Paul isn't calling for a travel ban, according to Mayor Chris Coleman's Communications Director Tonya Tennessen, even though Coleman and Hodges released a joint statement calling for the Indiana law's repeal.

The St. Paul Fire Department wasn't sending anyone to the conference in Indianapolis.