City employees are no longer allowed to travel to North Carolina or Mississippi using taxpayer money if it’s not absolutely necessary.
The decision was announced Thursday by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in response to new laws that allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
He joins more than a dozen mayors across the nation who have also pulled the plug on publicly funded travel there.
“We want to make it clear that we’re against discrimination and we’re not going to spend Honolulu taxpayer resources on going to states where discrimination is tolerated,” said city spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke. “We’re not going to ask employees to go to places where they’re not going to have the same level of grace that they have here in Honolulu.”
A memo was sent to all city departments.
The law in Mississippi allows religious groups and private businesses to deny services to gay and transgender people, while the law in North Carolina requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificates.
Broder Van Dyke notes that Honolulu doesn’t travel much to those states anyway, but the ban serves as a message.
It will be reversed if the new laws are retracted, he said.