Kenney Bans City-Funded Travel to North Carolina, Mississippi

It's in response to legislation that allows LGBT discrimination in those states.

Mayor Jim Kenney is placing a ban on non-essential city-funded travel to the states of North Carolina and Mississippi, Nellie Fitzpatrick, the city’s director of LGBT affairs, announced at a City Hall press conference Wednesday afternoon. The ban is in response to controversial new laws in those states — North Carolina’s H.B. 2 and Mississippi’s H.B. 1523 — that limit protections on LGBT persons.

Fitzpatrick made the announcement flanked by Pennsylvania Physician General Rachel Levine, who was in the city to discuss the importance of passing statewide non-discrimination legislation in the wake of Governor Wolf’s executive orders, and Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

“Mayor Kenney has repeatedly stated that discriminatory legislation is antithetical to our country’s core democratic values and continues to actively welcome any and all people, businesses, organizations, and events who no longer feel welcome in their state because of these idiotic laws,” said Fitzpatrick in her prepared remarks. “You will always be welcome in Philadelphia. Speaking frankly, if you are seeking to make a statement by leaving your state, coming to Philadelphia is your exclamation point. Since being founded in 1682 on the principles of love and acceptance for all people, this city has been a beacon for everyone seeking a life free of the discrimination they faced elsewhere.”

“Effective immediately, I am directing all city departments to prohibit all travel to the states of North Carolina and Mississippi by city employees for purposes of official business,” said Kenney in an official statement about the ban released last night. “The ban will include any publicly funded travel by city employees to North Carolina & Mississippi (unless such travel is pre-approved by the Managing Director as essential to public health and safety).  I am announcing this ban in response to the states of North Carolina and Mississippi’s enactment of legislation that infringes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.  I will reconsider this ban if and when North Carolina & Mississippi choose to repeal their discriminatory legislation.”

Kenney joined a group called Mayors Against Discrimination earlier this month; the group stated among its goals “barring official travel to states with discriminatory laws such as those enacted in North Carolina and, most recently, Mississippi” and “developing model resolutions that can be adopted by city councils and other legislative bodies.”

The Philadelphia Gay News reports that a preliminary review of city contracts shows that Philadelphia has no current contracts with either state. NBC 10 reports that a Kenney spokesperson could not say if or how this would affect the city’s travel budget, or if any trips had been canceled as a result.