Dayton became the first jurisdiction in Ohio to ban city-funded trips to both North Carolina and Mississippi to object to laws critics say are discriminatory. The move reaffirmed the city’s position as a leader on equality and LGBT issues, supporters said.
Dayton joined New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and some other major U.S. cities in banning non-essential travel to the southern states because their legislation hurts people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer community (LGBTQ), said Grant Stancliff, spokesman for Equality Ohio, a statewide advocacy group.
Stancliff said Dayton has sent a clear message that it is an open and inclusive community, which will be attractive to some progressive companies and young workers.
“Dayton historically has been very friendly to the LGBTQ community,” he said.
But pro-family groups across the state are discussing implementing travel bans against any Ohio city that prohibits travel to North Carolina, said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, a faith-based group in Cincinnati.
North Carolina adopted a law that prohibits local jurisdictions from passing their own anti-discrimination regulations and prevents transgender people from using the restroom of his or her preference.
Mississippi enacted a law that allows people and groups with religious objections to refuse service to gay people.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on Thursday sent a memo to City Manager Shelley Dickstein saying the laws are “incompatible” with the city of Dayton’s ordinances and values.
She directed Dickstein to bar city employees from traveling to those states using public funds unless it was demonstrably in the best interest of the city.
“At Dayton’s core, we’re an open and inclusive community and welcoming no matter who you love, what you believe or where you come from,” the mayor said during a Monday interview.
Dayton Commissioner Matt Joseph said city workers do not often travel to those two states in particular, but the city sticks up for what it believes in, which includes treating everyone fairly and equally.
“We are a city that works hard to treat everyone fairly,” he said.
Cuyahoga County implemented a travel ban to North Carolina, and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther issued a statement denouncing North Carolina’s “discriminatory” law. The Cincinnati City Council may vote this week to ban city-funded travel to both states.
Stancliff said he is confident the laws in the states will be revoked or fundamentally changed sometime because of the well-deserved and growing backlash from the public and private sectors. Some companies have threatened to stop doing business or not invest in the states.
But the Citizens for Community Values is calling on its supporters to rally in support of North Carolina. The group said the North Carolina law ensures men cannot go into women’s bathrooms, locker-rooms and showers, and clarifies that the state is responsible for enacting laws impacting commerce.
“The primary reason the law was passed in N.C. is because homosexual activists want access to rest rooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex,” said Burress.