Politics & Government

New York, four cities ban government travel to NC over LGBT law

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a rally at the Empire State Plaza on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo has issued a ban on state-funded travel to North Carolina.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a rally at the Empire State Plaza on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo has issued a ban on state-funded travel to North Carolina. AP

The state of New York and four cities across the country have banned their employees from non-essential travel to North Carolina, citing the state’s new LGBT discrimination law.

The new law creates a new statewide discrimination policy that doesn’t protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It was triggered by a Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance allowing transgender people to use bathrooms of the gender with which they identify.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed an executive order this week to “bar any such publicly funded travel that is not essential to the enforcement of state law or public health and safety.”

“In New York, we believe that all people – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation – deserve the same rights and protections under the law,” Cuomo said in a news release. “From Stonewall to marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past.”

The conservative N.C. Values Coalition, a leading supporter of the law, dismissed Cuomo’s action in a Facebook post. “NY Governor Andrew Cuomo bans state travel to North Carolina but encourages Cuba visits,” the post said. “It’s OK to laugh.”

Cuomo’s action followed a similar move Monday by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. According to Politico, he said that “it’s quite clear that voices of conscience all over the country are expressing outrage at these decisions which are reinstituting discrimination against the LGBT community.”

De Blasio said he’d do a similar travel ban for Georgia if its legislature overrides the governor’s veto and approves a bill to give faith-based organizations the right to deny services and jobs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Across the country, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order Monday banning city-funded travel to North Carolina. “It is my hope for our nation that we do not allow issues of discrimination to divide us,” Murray said in a news release. “Our union is only made stronger when all Americans are treated equitably.”

West Palm Beach, Fla., Mayor Jeri Muoio announced that she’s the first Florida leader to institute a travel ban. “West Palm Beach taxpayers will not subsidize legally-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people,” she said in a news release.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was the first to initiate a travel ban after Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill last week.

Boston could soon join the list: City Councilor Josh Zakim filed a proposed ordinance this week calling for a travel ban. “HB 2 disrespects and denigrates all LGBTQ individuals who set foot in North Carolina, a group that includes many Boston residents,” Zakim said on Facebook.

It’s unclear how much government-funded travel took place in North Carolina before the bans. The loss of government employee travel is unlikely to have a major effect on the state’s economy.

But Wake County Commissioner John Burns, a Democrat and vocal opponent of the law, said the travel bans could have a ripple effect.

“Importance of NC travel bans isn’t loss of visits,” Burns said on Twitter. “These are our competitors. And they are burning this image into companies’ vision.”

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter