San Francisco mayor bars city workers’ travel to North Carolina over transgender bathroom law

People protest outside the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday. (Emery P. Dalesio/AP)San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Friday said he is banning city employees from traveling to North Carolina on public business after the state passed a law limiting transgender rights.

“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 a 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.”

The law, passed this week, bars local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people and bans transgender people from using public bathrooms according to their gender identity.

Passage of the law elicited protests from individuals, newspapers and several corporations, including American Airlines, Apple, Duke University, IBM, Facebook, Google, Lowe’s, Microsoft, the National Basketball Association and Wells Fargo.

“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” it said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) used the law as an opportunity to promote his own state.

Lee suggested that he would issue a similar travel ban to Georgia if it passes a religious liberty bill similar to an Indiana bill last year that elicited a similar travel ban: “With other states like Georgia on the verge of passing more discriminatory laws, let me be clear that San Francisco taxpayers will not subsidize legally-sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in any City or State.”

North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed the law in response to a Charlotte ordinance, which would have expanded civil rights protections to individuals on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. That ordinance also would have allowed transgender people to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.

“The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte,” Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said in a statement. “… As a result, I have signed legislation passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette which was to go into effect April 1.”

The Georgia legislature elicited a similarly strong response after it passed a religious liberty bill earlier this month. Proponents say the bill, which allows religious organizations to deny the use of facilities for “objectionable” purposes, merely protects religious rights. Opponents say it enshrines anti-gay discrimination.

Hundreds of corporations, including Disney, Marvel, Time Warner, the National Football League, Delta, Coca-Cola, Google and others have voiced varying degrees of opposition to that measure, some going as far as promising to move business out of state if the governor signs the bill into law.

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