OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has joined other government officials in banning nearly all official travel to North Carolina because of the state's law halting anti-discrimination rules.
Under the law signed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory last week, cities and counties can't pass measures protecting people based on sexual orientation and gender identity when they use public accommodations. The law was spurred by a Charlotte ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity.
Inslee on Tuesday joined the governor of New York and the mayors of Seattle and San Francisco, who have banned anything but essential travel to North Carolina on the public's dime. In making the announcement, Inslee praised Washington's law that requires buildings open to the public to allow transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with the way they identify.
The travel ban is "consistent with our state's approach to tolerance, fairness and a lack of discrimination," Inslee said to reporters. "And I do think these things — they're mostly symbolic — but symbolism is important when it comes to ending discrimination in our country."
Washington's law, which went into effect under the guidance of the state Human Rights Commission in late December, caused an outcry by some state lawmakers who put forward bills to repeal it. Many at hearings and debates on those bills argued the commission's rule would make it easier for sexual predators to abuse the law in order to assault women. Others testified there are already state laws forbidding harassment and assault, and that this would protect transgender people.
One attempt to repeal it was voted down in the Republican-controlled Senate. Others didn't gain traction in committees.
In North Carolina, lawmakers went into a one-day special session to pass their new law. McCrory has said overturning Charlotte's anti-discrimination ordinance was meant to protect the privacy of those who expect to share locker rooms and bathrooms with people who have the same anatomy.