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L.A. County supervisors pass ban on travel to North Carolina

L.A. County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, left, and Hilda Solis

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a ban on travel to North Carolina by county employees in response to the state’s law restricting the bathrooms that transgender people can use in public facilities. Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, left, and Hilda Solis, seen in 2015, backed the travel ban.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County joined the growing number of jurisdictions that have banned official travel to North Carolina following the state’s passage of a controversial bill restricting the bathrooms transgender people can use in public facilities.

The North Carolina law passed last month requires that people use bathrooms designated for the “biological sex” listed on their birth certificates. It also limited the ability of local governments to put in place anti-discrimination laws.

At the request of Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl, the board voted to “suspend all travel to the state of North Carolina for the conduct of county business unless the chief executive officer determines that the failure to authorize such travel would seriously harm the county’s interests." 

The ban would be lifted if the law, HB2, is repealed or suspended. The board also voted to send a letter to North Carolina’s governor and legislative bodies calling for its repeal.

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Advocates from LGBT groups urged the passage of the ban.

Porter Gilberg, executive director of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, pointed to a recent case in which a transgender woman was beaten and stabbed in Long Beach. The victim survived, and the attack was prosecuted as a hate crime.

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Gilberg said the attack "demonstrates the blatant viciousness people continue to exhibit toward trans people and communities.”

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“Today you can clearly send a message that state-sanctioned discrimination is wrong, that the further marginalization of trans people is unacceptable and the increased hostility that this law has brought to communities everywhere must stop,” Gilberg said.

Kuehl, who is the first openly gay member of the board and was the first openly gay person to serve in the California Legislature, praised the advocates who pushed for anti-discrimination laws.

“Governments come along behind and say we’ll do our part. We have power; we must use it, and that is what we are attempting to do today,” she said.

Solis said she had faced discrimination herself, as a Latina, and feels a personal stake in discrimination against other minority groups.

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“The value is that we all stand together, because if one falls, we all fall,” she said.

One speaker, Tarence Jones Bey, defended the North Carolina law.

“I’m not expecting to see a woman in the restroom, and I’m sure women are not expecting to see a man in the women’s restroom,” Jones Bey said. “This will cause a lot of confusion and even a lot of space for crime, especially rapists.”

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Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich cast the lone “no” vote on the board.

Antonovich said in a statement on his vote afterward that “common sense should dictate bathroom rules.”

“The politically correct agenda is full of hypocrisy,” he said. “The corporations, (PayPal, Google) and entertainers, (Bruce Springsteen) and others are calling for the boycott of North Carolina — however, they are more than happy to entertain or conduct business in countries which support and sponsor the persecution, oppression, and violence against individuals based on gender, religion, and sexual orientation.”

The city of Los Angeles voted earlier this month to stop doing official business with North Carolina and with Mississippi, which passed a law allowing government employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. It also allows businesses and faith-based groups to deny housing, jobs and adoption and foster-care services to people based on their sexual orientation. 

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority barred agency employees from traveling to Charlotte, N.C., for a conference.

Outside of California, a number of other jurisdictions, including the city and state of New York and Washington, D.C., have passed similar travel bans.

Twitter: @sewella

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