The governors of New York, Vermont and Washington, and the mayors of New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle have banned all nonessential travel to North Carolina, following Gov. Pat McCrory's signing into law HB2, a measure that eliminates antidiscrimination protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in the state. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has gone a step further, saying he will also try to poach businesses and conventions that no longer want to meet in North Carolina.
New York State's order requires all state agencies, departments, boards and commissions to review immediately all requests for state-funded or state-sponsored travel to North Carolina, and bars any 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," said New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement. "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 nonessential state travel to that state."
In response, McCrory's communications director, Josh Ellis, released a statement claiming hypocrisy on Cuomo's part. "Syracuse [University] is playing in the Final Four in Houston, where voters overwhelmingly rejected a nearly identical bathroom ordinance [allowing transgender people to use restrooms that do not match their birth gender] that was also rejected by the state of North Carolina," said Ellis. "Is Gov. Cuomo going to ask the Syracuse team to boycott the game in Houston? It's total hypocrisy and demagoguery if the governor does not, considering he also visited Cuba, a communist country with a deplorable record of human rights violations." Syracuse is a private institution not under the aegis of Cuomo's actions.
North Carolina's attorney general, Roy Cooper, who is running for governor against McCrory, has declined to defend the state against a lawsuit that has been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union contesting the law's constitutionality. An article in the News & Observer of Raleigh notes that Cooper, whose office put in an antidiscrimination policy in 2001, said HB2 conflicts with that policy and a similar one adopted by the state's treasury department. The policies offer protections to workers based on marital status and sexual orientation, Cooper told the paper.