NC mayors to counterparts across the country: Call off the travel ban

NC mayors to counterparts across the country: Call off the travel ban

CHARLOTTE, NC (Jim Morrill/The Charlotte Observer) - Sixteen North Carolina mayors, including Charlotte's Jennifer Roberts, have asked mayors of cities across the country to reconsider their bans of travel to North Carolina.

Chicago and Washington state this week became the latest to reaffirm travel bans that started after last year's passage of House Bill 2, widely seen as anti-LGBT.

The bans have stayed in place after passage of a compromise law that repeals HB2 but bars cities from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances for four years. Critics say the new law continues to discriminate.

"(W)e won't stand by idly when discriminatory policies threaten the rights of any single group or community," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday. "Until North Carolina acknowledges the rights of the LGBTQ community and treats all individuals fairly, the City of Chicago will be taking our business elsewhere, and we encourage others to do the same."

In the letter, Roberts, along with Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and 13 others reminded big-city mayors from Seattle to New York City that North Carolina cities don't have the authority of the General Assembly. And the people hurt by travel bans, they wrote, are the people who work in the hospitality industry across the state.

"Please consider the economic harm to those working in hotels, restaurants and other travel-related venues that will not be hosting events due to travel boycotts," they wrote.

The N.C. mayors said the compromise "allows the conversation to continue without the heated rhetoric."

The mayors said "the values our cities hold are not changed by legislation."

"Our cities remain safe, welcoming places for all people," they wrote.