March 28, 2016; ABC News (Associated Press)
The governor of New York has joined Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle and San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee in banning nonessential publically funded travel to North Carolina in response to N.C.’s House Bill 2, which blocks anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, and transgender people. The law overrides local ordinances in the state that provide such protections, prevents cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination rules, and imposes a statewide standard that leaves out protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the travel ban with this statement:
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. 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. As long as there is a law in North Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am barring non-essential state travel to that state.
Last week, North Carolina lawmakers approved and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation voiding a Charlotte ordinance that would have provided wide protections against discrimination in public accommodations. Technology giants Apple, Google, and Facebook are among a dozen big companies, or their top executives, who have objected to the law. Governor Cuomo and the mayors are joining for-profit companies, public corporations, and associations and clubs who oppose the law by working an angle that works well for influencing decisions in a capitalist country: hitting the state’s pocketbook.
Some of the roughly 20,000 retail and interior design companies that attend the twice-a-year High Point furniture market say they won’t travel to the North Carolina city next month because of HB2. The taxpayer-supported High Point Market Authority said Monday that dozens of buyers have said their employees wouldn’t attend to shop the new offerings of manufacturers and wholesalers. Opponents of the law also are on social media calling for a boycott of the market, which has an annual statewide economic impact of $5 billion. High Point Market Authority CEO Tom Conley says the impact of a threatened boycott won’t be known for weeks or months.
Others are going the legal route. Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality NC joined together in filing a federal lawsuit against House Bill 2. As reported in the Associated Press, at a press conference in Raleigh, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that his office would not defend HB2, which was pushed through during an unprecedented special legislative session of the N.C. General Assembly. (Cooper, a Democrat, is running against McCrory for governor in November.)
Cooper has stated that the law is unconstitutional, and that he would join with the North Carolina Treasurer’s office to defend their non-discrimination policy, requiring equal treatment for LGBT people.—Marian Conway