San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has no use for the new law in North Carolina that bars local governments from passing anti-discrimination legislation that would apply to gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. He has issued an order that no city employees will travel to North Carolina except in cases where the health or safety of city residents would be affected.
“We are standing united as San Franciscans to condemn North Carolina’s new discriminatory law that turns back the clock on protecting the rights of all Americans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals,” Lee said in the statement.
“Effective immediately, I am directing City Departments under my authority to bar any publicly-funded City employee travel to the State of North Carolina that is not absolutely essential to public health and safety.”
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill this week to void a Charlotte ordinance that would’ve provided protections against discrimination in public accommodations.
McCrory, who was the mayor of Charlotte for 14 years and had criticized the local ordinance, signed the legislation Wednesday night that he said was “passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette.”
Although 12 House Democrats joined all Republicans present in voting for the bill in the afternoon Wednesday, later all Senate Democrats in attendance walked off their chamber floor during the debate in protest. Remaining Senate Republicans gave the legislation unanimous approval.
“We choose not to participate in this farce,” Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue of Raleigh said after he left the chamber.
The law also prevents other cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination rules and imposes a statewide standard that leaves out protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to KTVU-TV.
Gay rights leaders and transgender people said the legislation demonizes the community and espouses bogus claims about increasing the risk of sexual assaults. They say the law will deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people essential protections needed to ensure they can get a hotel room, hail a taxi or dine at a restaurant without fear.
“McCrory’s reckless decision to sign this appalling legislation into law is a direct attack on the rights, well-being and dignity of hundreds of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians and visitors to the state,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. Civil liberties groups pledged to push for repeal and were weighing legal options.
Twenty-nine states have no anti-discrimination laws related to gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. Three states have laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation, but they do not cover transgenders. What’s the difference between states that have no statute preventing discrimination and North Carolina? In theory, those 29 states allow discrimination in public accommodations — public restrooms are for men and women and there is no statute that says someone can choose their gender for purposes of using the bathroom. Why not ban travel to those states, too, Mr. Mayor?
The hysteria being ginned up over the passage of the North Carolina law has little to do with the law and everything to do with putting massive pressure on leaders in the state to change or eliminate the statute. This “end of the world” rhetoric will make big businesses think twice about risking the wrath of the LGBT community by expanding into the state. The NBA is already mulling moving its All-Star Game from Charlotte next year, which would cost the state millions in tax revenue.
This sort of pressure worked in Indiana, where similar outrage was manufactured against a religious liberty bill. Governor Mike Pence forced an amendment through the legislature that severely curtailed the law’s protections. Expect something similar in North Carolina.
A version of this piece also appeared at The American Thinker