New York has joined cities such as San Francisco and Seattle in banning non-essential travel to North Carolina for city and state employees. These bans come days after the North Carolina state legislature passed an anti-LGBTQ bill that has already prompted a federal lawsuit.
"In New York, we believe that all people—regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation—deserve the same rights and protections under the eyes of the law," Cuomo said in a statement yesterday. "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."
Last month, the Charlotte city council voted to expand the city's nondiscrimination ordinance to include new legal protections for gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals. The expanded legislation would prevent business from discriminating against LGBTQ people, and would allow transgender individuals to use whichever bathroom corresponds to their gender identity.
North Carolina's state government was not having any of that: Republican Governor Pat McCrory said that the ban would "most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention," and sure enough, on March 23rd the legislature held a special one-day session (costing taxpayers $42,000) to pass a bill that reverses Charlotte's ordinance and bans future laws that would protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. McCrory signed the bill into law that night.
Just days later, the ACLU of North Carolina and Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit along with three individuals, arguing that the law "violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution." McCrory has called the backlash to the law's passage "political theater," and said that "this political correctness has gone amok." The state's Attorney General, meanwhile, has said he won't defend the law, calling it a "national embarrassment."
North Carolina's law has been called "one of the most extreme, anti-LGBT bills we've seen yet." In addition to travel bans from New York City and state, Seattle, San Francisco, and (soon) Boston, companies such as PayPal, IBM, Dow Chemical, Biogen, Apple, Google, and Facebook have all spoken out against the law.
Meanwhile in Georgia, Republican Governor Nathan Deal just vetoed a controversial bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse to serve LGBTQ people under the guise of preserving religious freedom. The state legislature there is reportedly considering holding a special session to override the veto. Speaking to reporters yesterday, de Blasio said that he'll order a similar ban on non-essential city-funded travel to Georgia if that override does indeed occur.
"I think 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. "My hope is that both these states will relent, but we certainly are not going to have any non-essential travel to those states if these laws do continue in effect."
Last year, New York similarly banned non-essential state-funded travel to Indiana, after the state passed a law that would effectively allow business owners and others to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals under the pretense of protecting freedom of religion. Cuomo lifted that ban after the law was amended.
New York is one of 20 states that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, housing, or public accommodations—two more states protect just against discrimination based on sexual orientation, while the remaining 28 states have no such non-discrimination laws. Earlier this month, de Blasio ordered all city-owned buildings to let people use the bathrooms that correspond with the gender with which they identify, and the City Council is currently considering legislation that would require single-occupancy bathrooms to be usable by people of any gender.