City Council passes travel ban to N.C.
The Boston City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ban taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina because that state recently passed a law preventing transgender individuals from using public bathrooms that do not match their biological gender.
“We are a city in Boston that values diversity, inclusion, and antidiscrimination,” said City Councilor Josh Zakim, who sponsored the measure. “I feel compelled to stand up and be counted at times like this. I think it’s important that Boston continues to lead on this issue.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh signed the measure, according to a city spokeswoman. The ordinance takes effect immediately.
“In Boston, we believe that all individuals should be treated equally, and I applaud Councilor Zakim for standing up against discrimination,” Walsh said in a statement.
The law in North Carolina bars local communities from passing antidiscrimination laws protecting gay and transgender people. The legislation also creates a statewide antidiscrimination law that fails to protect the LGBTQ community and strips municipalities of their ability to enact stronger antibias laws, Zakim previously told the Globe.
Boston’s travel ban makes exceptions for workers whose travel is necessary to enforce local laws, meet contractual obligations, or protect the public health and safety of city residents.
When the measure was proposed earlier in the week, Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, hailed the city for leading the way locally, and now nationally, on transgender inclusion.
“What North Carolina passed has a very real and very harmful impact on the transgender community,” Dunn said.
North Carolina’s General Assembly passed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act in a special session, and Governor Pat McCrory signed it last week.
In a statement, McCrory said the basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and City Council of Charlotte. Officials in that city had adopted an antidiscrimination ordinance, prompting the action by the North Carolina General Assembly and governor.
“This radical breach of trust and security under the false argument of equal access not only impacts the citizens of Charlotte but people who come to Charlotte to work, visit, or play,’’ reads the statement, posted on the governor’s website.
Opponents of the statewide bill said it was passed during a rushed special session of the General Assembly, and that lawmakers had just five minutes to read it before a vote. Its passage enraged civil liberties groups and members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters.
On Twitter, opponents launched a massive protest called #WeAreNotThis urging people to sign a petition demanding the governor “repeal this shameful law,’’ one tweet said.
Detractors say the backlash engulfing North Carolina is akin to the social media revolt that targeted Indiana last year after passage of a religious freedom bill. Opponents argued the Indiana measure, in its original form, would have allowed business owners to deny services to LGBTQ customers.
That bill prompted Connecticut to ban state-funded travel to Indiana, and mayors in San Francisco and Seattle followed suit. Indiana lawmakers quickly amended the legislation in an effort to tamp down criticism.
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