N.C. mayors implore colleagues across nation to end travel bans

Cities and states nationwide reaffirm official protest of HB2 and HB 142

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than a dozen city mayors across North Carolina have signed a letter asking that states and cities banning taxpayer-funded travel to N.C. in response to HB 2 and HB 142 lift their bans. The letter comes after more than 20 cities and three states announced that travel bans initiated under HB2 would continue in spite of the so-called “repeal” bill, HB 142, which keeps much of HB2 in place.

The North Carolina mayors’ letter claims that cities are being harmed by the travel bans, but that local governments are now powerless to enact LGBTQ protections. The latter is a stipulation of HB 142, passed and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper on March 30. The new law, which critics are calling “HB 2.0,” prevents local non-discrimination ordinances until December 2020.

In spite of North Carolina mayors’ request, cities and states nationwide have reaffirmed their commitment to protesting LGBTQ discrimination. Many of the bans were put in place over the past year, including the ban on state-funded travel from California.

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“California is inclusive. We take pride in protecting the rights of all our people,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in an April 12 release. “Discrimination is unacceptable and we intend to protect LBGT rights. California’s law was enacted to ensure that, with limited exceptions, our taxpayer resources are not spent in states that authorize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. North Carolina’s new law does not cure the infirmity of this type of discrimination.”

Other states banning such travel to North Carolina are Minnesota and Washington state, as well as Washington, D.C. Cities nationwide have joined the movement. These include: Chicago; New York City; San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, OR; Atlanta; Baltimore; Burlington, VT; Los Angeles; Oakland; Santa Fe; Cincinnati; Salt Lake City; Palm Springs, CA; West Palm Beach; Portland, ME; and Wilton Manors, FL.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed stood up to its northerly neighbor in April 2016, one of the first cities to enact such a ban.

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“Every person, regardless of their gender, gender expression or sexuality is a valued member of our community,” Reed said in a statement at the time. Now, Reed spokeswoman Anne Torres has confirmed that the ban will remain.

An April 3 statement by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is perhaps one of the most poignant arguments in favor of travel ban protests:

“Every American deserves to live free of discrimination, and the law signed last week by Governor Cooper does nothing to protect the rights and dignity of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” Garcetti said. “Cities should have every opportunity to make policies that affirm values of equal justice, protect people from hate and bias, and uphold the Constitutional right to self-determination. Until that is made real in North Carolina, I urge the City Council to extend L.A.’s ban on non-essential travel to the state by City employees. I would sign that ban right away, and will continue doing everything in my power to make sure that Angelenos’ tax dollars are never spent to support bigotry based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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