Columbus and Franklin Co. look to ban travel by non-essential employees to North Carolina

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The City of Columbus and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners are speaking out against North Carolina’s HB2 law. The law mandates which public restrooms transgender people are allowed to use.

Currently, the city and county are both working through resolutions that would ban travel by non-essential employees to North Carolina. The county is also adding a travel ban to Mississippi.

Councilmember Shannon Hardin is taking the lead on the city’s resolution.

In a statement, he said he believes the North Carolina law takes away the individual cities and municipalities’ ability to have a conversation. He said the resolution that is being drafted is about the ability for citizens to have a safe place to have tough conversations.

“What we are talking about is having the opportunity to have conversations about inclusion. There are no easy answers. These are not simple questions. However, we must provide a safe environment for open discussion and dialog. We should stand for the right to speak without retribution,” said Councilmember Hardin.

Hardin said he’s in the beginning stages of drafting and bringing this resolution to City Council.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says this is a way to shows the city’s disapproval for laws he says encourages hate and exclusion of the LGBTQ community.

“It’s inconsistent with our values and inconsistent with values of the people of Columbus,” says Mayor Ginther. “Our hope is that cooler heads that are interested in driving business, economic development, but also making sure that people feel safe and welcome, those heads will prevail in North Carolina and Mississippi.”

Lyric Joseph is a transgender woman who disagrees with HB2,  but thinks banning non-essential travel by city employees to North Carolina is wrong.

“They need us there. They need us there,” she says. “With all of us fighting to keep everybody out and applauding them when they don’t go…we need to think about the ones that are stuck there, because there are people that can’t get out of there and that have to live this every single day.”

Executive director of Stonewall Columbus Karla Rothan says this kind of boycott is only one way to make a change. She says it’s a very public, drastic way to do it, but sometimes it’s necessary.

“It helps draw attention to the fact that this is not fair, it’s not equitable and we’re not going to stand for it and you’re not going to get our dollar,” she says.

Rothan says transgender issues are a new frontier and that transgender people have been left behind in the fight for equality.

“We want them to know that by doing this, we’re really supporting them,” she says.

Rothan says HB2, which prohibits transgender people from choosing the bathroom they want to use, is something they won’t stand for.

“You are not permitted in the USA to legislate discrimination and we’re going to fight every single day of our lives to make sure it doesn’t happen,” she says.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners is looking to a pass a resolution banning travel to North Carolina and Mississippi next week.

The City of Columbus will look to pass their resolution at the May 2nd council meeting.

In a statement. Board of Commissioners President John O’Grady said:

“We’re proud in Franklin County to be part of a smart, open community, and we love our neighbors even when they’re different from us. Laws like the ones we’ve seen recently in North Carolina and Mississippi, where state leaders are going out of their way to legislate discrimination, are hateful and divisive.  We’re not going to send Franklin County tax dollars to those states until the laws are repealed, and we’re certainly not going to require our employees to spend time in a place where they might face discrimination simply for being themselves.”

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