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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 15, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 16
Mayor Ed Murray discusses travel bans to hate states NC and MS
Section One
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Mayor Ed Murray discusses travel bans to hate states NC and MS

by Victor Hawthorne - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed executive orders in recent weeks banning official City of Seattle travel by City of Seattle employees to both North Carolina and Mississippi after the two states passed similar anti-LGBT laws.

While the move is largely symbolic, as it would have virtually no direct economic impact on the two states, it is nonetheless important as it sends a strong message against discrimination at a pivotal time.

In an interview with Mayor Murray on Thursday, April 14, I asked him to discuss his ban in greater detail and what it means for North Carolina, Mississippi, and the City of Seattle.

Mayor Murray began the conversation by stressing why it was important to take a stand against hate. 'I thought it was very important for a city like Seattle, with one of the most dynamic business communities on the planet, to stand up and say something about this issue...to reflect our values and who we are as a city. We have to express these things.'

He explained that the order means that 'we're not going to be spending our travel dollars for any purposes and have employees working in these states.'

'The city has many employees and there's a lot of travel involved. That's what this ban will do.'

Addressing those who view his order as just symbolic, Mayor Murray explained that 'symbolism is important.' but added that the move was not just symbolic.

'It's not just about symbolism, it sends a message to other cities to act, it sends a message to businesses to act, and it is resulting in a national effort that is not helpful to these states...they lose business and opportunities.'

Although other states have passed anti-LGBT legislation in recent years, Mayor Murray stressed that these two states' laws, along with Indiana's last year, were different and more extreme.

'Indianapolis was the first place that started passing laws that said, 'you can discriminate' and now you see that in North Carolina and Mississippi. That is very different than preventing anti-discrimination laws from passing. We're reacting to something that's very new.'

He added that there 'are states without any LGBT protections, but they are not passing laws to say it's okay to fire folks, to not serve folks. This is a step in the wrong direction.'

The Mayor also pointed out that 'instead of the LGBT community being engaged in a battle to pass anti-discrimination legislation in states that don't have them, we find ourselves trying to fight laws that say you can discriminate.'

According to Mayor Murray, both states are now in a position where they have to decide what kind of states they want to be. Inclusive and tolerant or backwards and hateful.

He explained that not only is it the right thing to do, it makes the most business sense.

'One of the things we see around the globe is that when you have cities and countries, and states, that are accepting and tolerant, they attract talented people. It's just good business practice.'

Towards the end of the interview, Mayor Murray said he has 'not heard back from either state' in response to his travel ban, which is not surprising considering the amount of political and business fallout both states have seen in the past few weeks.

Just this week, leaders in both states have been scrambling to deal with the mess they created as international companies and politicians speak out against such laws. LGBT lawmakers in Israel spoke out against the controversial laws while the Deutsche Bank froze its expansion in North Carolina yesterday.

While it's horrific to see such laws being passed in 2016, it's more remarkable that these states are even willing to consider such laws given the chaos that ensued in a different state that passed a similar law last year.

Last year Mayor Murray issued a similar ban on travel to Indiana along with a handful of other mayors and a plethora of businesses in response to a similar law passed in that state.

The result? A catastrophe for Indiana and a triumph for Gay rights. A trifecta of political, business, and public pressure forced the state to pass another bill that essentially nullified the first law. The state learned its lesson in encouraging hate while setting an example to neighboring Arkansas, which scrambled to modify its own version of the bill in an attempt to escape the negative fallout Indiana experienced.

It appears legislators in North Carolina and Mississippi have not been paying attention to the direction the country is heading.

Thanks to Mayor Ed Murray and other politicians and business leaders across the country who have taken a stand against such laws, both states are getting the message loud and clear - there's no place for discrimination in North Carolina, Mississippi, or any other state.

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Mayor Ed Murray discusses travel bans to hate states NC and MS
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