VALPARAISO | Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas called on Indiana lawmakers Wednesday to immediately repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and to offer an apology.
“The right thing to do is a full repeal,” he said. “The best pathway to resolution is for legislators to rescind the action and to issue an apology.”
Costas said he did not agree with the path being taken by Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly to simply clarify the existing law.
Legislative leaders have yet to detail the specifics of any clarification, or when the House and Senate might act on it.
Costas, a Republican, joins many of the state's Democrat leaders who are calling for a full repeal of the law.
The mayor's comments also echo a growing chorus of opposition from Valparaiso residents.
A group of Valparaiso University students planned a march and rally today in protest of the law. Students planned to leave the Harre Union at 5 p.m. and walk to City Hall where several people were to speak.
One of the march organizers, VU student Christina Crawley, said while the group is grateful for Costas' statements against the RFRA, they are asking the city to do more.
The students want the city to pass legislation that protects the rights of LGBTQ individuals, to place economic sanctions on any business that uses the RFRA to discriminate against individuals, and to offer reassurance that no local government money is given to businesses supporting the RFRA.
Costas said he will be at City Hall to welcome students and hear their concerns. He said while he doesn't plan to speak at the event, he has made plans to create a further dialogue with the students.
“There will be a process for this,” he said. “We will certainly create a deliberate and meaningful process to address their concerns.”
Costas said he plans to convene a committee in the next 30 days to examine the issue. The committee would include City Council members, Human Relations Council members, and citizens. Costas also said he wants to gather input from residents.
He said the issue is complex, and there needs to be research into what the city can and cannot do. The city will work to explore its options, he said.
“We are certainly a community that values diversity,” Costas said.