Almost two weeks ago, North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory passed a law that explicitly discriminates against gay, lesbian, and transgender people. Immediately, Washington state Governor, Jay Inslee took action by imposing a ban on all state-funded travel into that state. Last week, Mississippi passed a similar discriminatory law, which prompted Inslee to again set boundaries.
The law in which Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi passed is actually two parts. First, government officials can legally refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform actual wedding ceremonies if the action violates the issuer’s/performer’s religious beliefs. Second, the new Mississippi law allows faith-based institutions and businesses to deny services based on religious grounds to individuals who live a gay, lesbian, or transgender lifestyle.
What seemed like a giant step forward with the approval of gay marriages and same-sex partner healthcare is now being shadowed by this prejudice law. In a memo posted by Washington Governor Inslee in regards to the new Mississippi law, he stated that it “perpetuates an unfair and injurious prejudice against the LGBTQ community”. He added that the law for Washington State, as well as the policy under his administration is the demand for all people to be treated equally and just.
In response to the law in Mississippi, Governor Inslee established a travel ban, which applies to all nonessential travel for people working in cabinet-level agencies overseen by him. Included in this is the Department of Corrections and the Department of Transportation.
After receiving a request from Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell who is openly gay, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo followed suit by filing an executive order that bans all nonessential state travel to Mississippi. Governor Cuomo also banned travel to North Carolina, as well as Indiana although the latter has been lifted. The state of Vermont has also issued a travel ban.
Although no other states have set bans at this point, many people believe that more are coming. After the new Mississippi law went into effect, a ripple effect was felt around the country. Instead of moving forward with equality, this new law pushes progress back.
The bottom line, Washington state, as well as others, have turned their back on North Carolina and Mississippi over the new discriminatory law. Almost immediately after Governor Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, governors began taking swift action in an effort to send a firm and clear message that discrimination will not be tolerated.
According to Inslee, the travel ban for Washington State will remain in effect until the new Mississippi law is changed. In its current form, the law is unacceptable. While some people are against Governor Inslee’s actions, most people have offered their full support.