The entire country is tutting its collective tongue in disappointment at North Carolina’s latest blunder, a wildly-unconstitutional law recently passed by the state legislature that removes anti-discrimination protections from members of the LGBTQ community. Governor Pat McRory signed the law into effect last Wednesday to the jeers of wild public condemnation. Now, the state of New York has thrown its weight against the door, banning all non-essential travel for Government employees to the state.
As governor Andrew Cuomo states: “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. 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 city of Charlotte passed an ordinance that expanded legal protections to include sexual and gender identity, by preventing businesses from discriminating against them and by ensuring transgendered people could use whichever bathroom they identified with.
The immediate response by the state legislature was the controversial new law that effectively removes these new key protections by means of excluding them from being specifically named. While the governor and others claim that the specific exclusion does not necessarily negate their rights, the timing of the law speaks to its true motive, overriding legislation in the state’s largest population center.
New York is only the latest city to attack North Carolina for the bill, joining the cities of San Francisco and Seattle in banning official travel to the state. They are joined by wide condemnation from major businesses headquartered in the area and abroad, including PayPal, IBM, Dow Chemical, Biogen, Apple, Google, and Facebook. The condemnation echoes the recent, similar issues in Georgia, in which heavyweights like Disney threatened to pull their business from the state should their anti-LGBTQ law make it past the Governor’s desk.
That law was vetoed outright.
New York has supported this style of protest in the past. Last year, New York did the same to Indiana after that state passed a law that would allow business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals under the pretense of protecting freedom of religion. The ban was lifted shortly after the law was repealed.
Like Cuomo, NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio echoed the sentiment of New York values. “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,” he 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.”
New York is one of 20 states that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, housing, or public accommodations. Earlier this month, the decreed that people could use the bathrooms that correspond with the gender they identify with most. While 2 more states have some form of protection, 28 other states have no legal protection for LGBTQ people.
To be frank, it’s strange that so many states are trying this sort of thing in the 21st century, nearly a year after gay marriage was legalized throughout the country. But it’s encouraging that so many important entities, public and private, are going to be on the right side of history on this one.