Governors Prohibit Non-Essential Travel to Mississippi Following Passage of Anti-LGBT LawBy Adam Polaski • April 7, 2016 • 11:39 am
Governors across the country are standing up against HB1523, the anti-LGBT law passed this week and signed into law on Tuesday by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. The extreme example of discrimination and state overreach directly singles out LGBT people and allows businesses a broad license to discriminate.
The three “sincerely held religious beliefs” that are included in the bill are that marriage is reserved for different-sex couples, that transgender people should face discrimination based on who they are, and that people should only have sex when they are married. HB1523 allows for a broad range of Mississippians – from individuals, to religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals, schools, and homeless shelters, to businesses – to legally cite their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against, for example, same-sex couples, transgender people, unwed sexually active couples, single mothers, and more.
So far governors in five states – Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, and Washington – have issued bans on state-sponsored travel.
Governor Dannel Malloy in Connecticut said this week, in a statement similar to many of the governors’:
Government should be in the practice of eliminating discrimination – not embracing it. This law in Mississippi is an active attempt to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. We, as a state, cannot stand for that. I am proud of Connecticut’s continued advancement of equality for all residents. Our state prides itself on our diversity. We celebrate it. And we are a stronger, better state as a result. This law, however, is simply rooted in backwards thinking and backwards values. That’s why we’re taking action
While banning government-funded travel is a simple and largely symbolic action that mayors, governors and other municipal administrators can take, the strategy has proven effective in the past at underlining states’ commitments to protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Last year local leaders—including Governors Cuomo, Shumlin and Mallloy and Mayors De Blasio and Lee—implemented the same travel bans when Indiana passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have allowed businesses to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people. And just last month we saw similar bans issued in North Carolina. Many of the bans in Indiana were eliminated after Indiana amended the law. Government leaders are hoping this round of travel bans will have the same effect, building momentum for repeal of HB1523 and HB2 in Mississippi and North Carolina, respectively.