ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed an order banning all non-essential travel to North Carolina, after a law was passed blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances.
The law also requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to their biological sex.
The ban, which took effect upon the signing of the order Monday, requires all New York state agencies, departments, boards and commissions to review any requests for state-funded travel to North Carolina. Any such travel that is not essential to the enforcement of New York state law or public health and safety will not be allowed.
This past Wednesday night, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation that invalidates an order in the city of Charlotte allowing transgender people to use restrooms aligned with their gender identity.
The broad bill prevents cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination rules, CBS News explained.
“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,” Cuomo said in a news release. “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.”
The governor’s office noted that Cuomo also banned non-essential state travel to Indiana last year after the state legislature passed a religious freedom measure that did not ban discrimination against the LGBT community. The Indiana measure was later modified, and the ban was listed.
The North Carolina law bars local governments statewide from prohibiting discrimination in public places based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A new statewide nondiscrimination law doesn’t contain those specific protections.
It directs all public schools, government agencies and public college campuses to require bathrooms or locker rooms be designated for use only by people based on their biological sex. They can offer single-occupancy facilities.
Transgender people who have transitioned to the opposite sex wouldn’t be affected if they get their birth certificate changed, CBS News explained.
McCrory signed North Carolina legislation saying it was “passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette.”
Backers had said intervening is necessary to protect the safety of women and children from “radical” action by Charlotte. There have been arguments that any man – perhaps a sex offender – could enter a woman’s restroom or locker room simply by calling himself transgender, CBS News explained.
“It’s common sense – biological men should not me be in women’s showers, locker rooms and bathrooms,” said North Carolina state Rep. Dean Arp (R-Monroe) before the chamber voted 82-26 for the legislation after nearly three hours of debate.
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. A Thursday evening rally was planned.
The new law would also make clear local governments can’t require area businesses to pay workers above the current minimum wage, with some exceptions. McCrory said that although items beyond the bathroom-related provisions in the legislation should have waited until later this spring for debate, he signed it anyway because it doesn’t change existing rights under state or federal law.
Meanwhile in Georgia on Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal announced his intention to veto a so-called “religious freedom” bill that attracted nationwide attention for what critics called its anti-gay provisions.
The Republican rejected the bill on Monday, saying “I have examined the protections that this bill proposes to provide to the faith based community and I can find no examples of any of those circumstances occurring in our state.”
Deal added, “I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia.”
Republican majorities passed the bill to broadly protect people acting on their religion. It also would have protected clergy who won’t perform gay marriages and people who won’t attend a wedding for religious reasons. Churches and affiliated religious groups also could have declined to serve or hire someone based on their faith.
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