In a move that appears to be motived by North Carolina's recently passed anti-LGBT bill, two New Jersey Democrats have proposed legislation to prohibit "state-sponsored travel to states adopting religious freedom statutes without protection against discrimination."
Introduced this week by Assemblymen Tim Eustace, who represents Bergen and Passaic, and Reed Gusciora, who represents Hunterdon and Mercer, the law does not specifically mention North Carolina or LGBT people.
North Carolina's law also does not follow the formula of "religious freedom" bills that have been seen in other states like Georgia as a license to discriminate against LGBT people. Making no mention of religion, North Carolina's bill prevents local communities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws. It also prohibits transgender people from using the restrooms that align with their gender identity.
New Jersey's proposed travel bans come on the heels of New York's governor signing an executive order this week banning non-essential state-funded travel to North Carolina. Mayors from New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and West Palm Beach, Fla., enacted similar bans at the city level.
It’s not clear how much state- or city-funded trips any of these places make to North Carolina or if the bans would have a significant impact on the state’s economy. But officials in those places say the bans are useful to publicly register disapproval.
Garden State Equality said it supports New Jersey's efforts to enact travel bans.
Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have no plans to ban travel to North Carolina.
PGN reached out to the offices of Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf and both used the opportunity to decry discrimination without committing to official action.
“This legislation is antithetical to our country’s core democratic values,” Kenney said in a statement to PGN. “North Carolinians who no longer feel welcome in their state have an open invitation to Philadelphia. I am proud to be the mayor of a city that works to empower all people.”
Wolf called it “wrong” that North Carolina passed a law barring local communities from enacting nondiscrimination laws that include protections for LGBT people. The law is already facing court challenges.
Wolf said, “equally as troubling is the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s inaction” on LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination legislation, known as the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.
“Pennsylvania has made strides in the fight for equality,” he said in a statement, “but we must do more to prevent people from ever being fired, denied a mortgage, or refused service at a hotel, library, or hospital, simply because of who they are or whom they love.”
“What happened in North Carolina,” he continued, “and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass nondiscrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now. The time is now, and I urge the legislature to send a bill to my desk. We need to send a signal that Pennsylvania is inclusive, welcoming, and open for business for everyone.”