Out gay Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell of Manhattan is calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to bar all non-essential travel to a half-dozen states that have recently approved bills targeting transgender individuals and the broader LGBTQ community.
“In the past, New York State has demonstrated our commitment to the values of tolerance and diversity by halting non-essential state travel to states that have followed through and enacted anti-LGBTQ legislation, particularly when those laws put New Yorkers traveling at risk,” O’Donnell said in the letter. “I ask for you to again take that step and issue an executive order banning non-essential state travel to the following states, due to legislation that has recently become law…” The states are Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.
Among those states, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah have imposed restrictions on gender-affirming care for youth, while West Virginia approved a law giving individuals the right to discriminate based on religious beliefs, according to O’Donnell. Arkansas and Tennessee have passed laws curtailing drag shows.
“These new laws directly limit the LGBTQ community’s access to health care, self-expression, and affirming environments,” said O’Donnell, who played a leading role in the successful campaign to pass marriage equality in New York State. “These laws also hurt individuals by sending the message that LGBTQ people are not welcome or safe. In addition, these laws pose a clear threat to New York State residents visiting these states. Individuals on non-essential state travel could easily find themselves in danger when subject to these unfair and illegal laws.”
New York has taken similar steps in the past to disassociate from states advancing anti-LGBTQ laws. In 2016, for example, the state barred travel to Mississippi due to a discriminatory anti-marriage equality law. That same year, the state restricted travel to North Carolina in the wake of the state’s transphobic bathroom bill.
“As we face a precarious time in our national culture, New York State must continue to show that we do not accept hate, at home or anywhere,” O’Donnell said. “That we will do whatever it takes to ensure that LGBTQ Americans, and at tihs time, particularly transgender youth, are protected.”
Gay City News has reached out to Hochul’s office for comment.