Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has issued a ban on all publicly funded and non-essential travel for city employees to Mississippi and North Carolina. A spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office confirmed with NBC10 the travel ban is in response to controversial laws from the two states which limit anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.
The North Carolina law directs transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. The law also excludes LGBT people from state anti-discrimination protections, blocks local governments from expanding LGBT protections, and bars all types of workplace discrimination lawsuits from state courts. In Mississippi, legislation taking effect this summer will allow certain workers, including some in private businesses, to cite religious beliefs in denying services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Kenney’s spokeswoman did not have details regarding how much the ban would impact Philadelphia’s travel budget or if any previously scheduled trips were canceled as a result.
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Earlier this month, Kenney joined a coalition group consisting of several other mayors across the country called Mayors Against Discrimination. The group vowed to ban official travel to any states that enacted anti-LGBT laws.
“Today, I’m proud to count myself among the coalition of mayors taking a stand against discriminatory policies targeting LGBT individuals and families,” Kenney said in a press release about the coalition. “Our city was founded on the ideals of freedom and equality, and we will continue to pursue those ideals in fighting for a fair and inclusive city and government that serves all Philadelphians.”
In addition to Kenney’s travel ban, SEPTA also canceled its participation in the American Public Transportation Conference scheduled to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina from May 15 through May 18. Officials say SEPTA’s decision not to participate isn’t connected to Kenney’s decision but rather SEPTA’s own internal discussion on the issue.