Councilmember Nancy Navarro led effort to suspend work-related
employee travel to Mississippi and North Carolina
ROCKVILLE, Md., April 26, 2016—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved a resolution to condemn lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) discrimination laws in Mississippi and North Carolina. The resolution also urges the County Executive to suspend official County travel to jurisdictions where these laws are in place. Councilmember Nancy Navarro, chair of the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, was the lead sponsor of the resolution. All other Councilmembers were co-sponsors.
“Montgomery County’s strength comes from its diversity and progressive values,” said Councilmember Navarro. “That is why it is important for me to make sure that our tax dollars are not used in states that discriminate against individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Our County is known as a place that stands for equality and respect; therefore, we cannot support jurisdictions that have enacted laws that perpetuate hate, fear and bigotry.”
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the right to marry is a fundamental right that must be provided to same-sex couples in Obergefell v. Hodges. The legislative response in Mississippi and North Carolina was to enact laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Mississippi’s General Assembly passed a law, signed by Governor Phil Bryant, allowing individuals with religious objections to deny services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A business owner or service provider who discriminates against a LGBT person would only need to profess a religious belief that “marriage is between a man and a woman, that sex is reserved for heterosexual marriage, or that gender is determined at birth as male or female” to deny service.
After the City of Charlotte adopted a non-discrimination ordinance allowing transgender people to use public restrooms in line with their gender identity, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed a law, signed by Governor Pat McCrory, eliminating nondiscrimination provisions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals by city governments. In addition, the North Carolina law excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from the state’s anti-discrimination policy and prevents individuals from filing employment discrimination lawsuits in state courts.
In 2012, Maryland became the first jurisdiction in the country to legalize marriage quality through a statewide referendum. In addition, Montgomery County has a long history of supporting civil rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The County was one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to extend health and insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners and to require that County contractors extend those same benefits to their employees.
If the non-essential employee travel ban is instituted by the County Executive, Montgomery County would join Washington, D.C., and numerous other cities across the country that that have instituted similar employee travel bans for both Mississippi and North Carolina. Some examples include San Francisco, Cincinnati, Providence, New York and Tampa.
The Council resolution can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/hqkohc9 .
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