New York legislators call for ban on all non-essential travel to Louisiana


One day after Gov. Bobby Jindal issued his executive "Marriage and Conscience Order," two New York state lawmakers have written to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, formally requesting the state put a ban on all nonessential state-funded travel to Louisiana.

New York State Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell and State Senate Deputy Minority Leader Mike Gianaris urged Cuomo to enact the travel ban, similar to travel bans that were set on the state of Indiana after it passed similar legislation. Those bans later were reversed after the law was revised. In his letter, O'Donnell said:
“Our state's employees should not be put in a situation where they can be legally discriminated against or made to feel unsafe, and our state must not support Governor Jindal's campaign against LGBT individuals. We must move our business to places that treat their citizens equally and fairly.”
O'Donnell's complete letter to Cuomo is below the cut.


The national gay and lesbian rights group National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund also has weighed in on the issue, with Executive Director Rea Carey saying in a statement, "It is clear that Governor Jindal is putting his presidential aspirations before the lives of millions of people. The use of his authority to promote state-sanctioned discrimination is deplorable. His action is an example of self-interested politicians manipulating faith as an excuse to impose their personal beliefs on other people and to further their political careers."

Both Jindal and the sponsor of the original Marriage and Conscience Act, state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, insist that the issue isn't discrimination, but protecting private businesses from state sanctions due to their religious views. At the hearing of Johnson's bill May 19, Stephen Perry of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and Michael Hecht of Greater New Orleans Inc. both testified that they feared millions of dollars could be lost if the bill passed.

One group, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), which is holding its annual Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans in September 2016, sent out a letter expressing its members' discomfort with the proposed bill:
As the members of the Louisiana legislature debate House Bill 707, the Marriage and Conscience Act, and any amendments to that bill, SPJ calls on those representatives and senators, and on Gov. Bobby Jindal, to work together to ensure any law passed is not discriminatory toward the LGBTQ community or any other community.

All members of SPJ should be welcome in New Orleans and in Louisiana next year, and no member should be subjected to discrimination while attending EIJ16.
SPJ National President-Elect Paul Fletcher told Gambit this afternoon that the group hadn't decided its next move after the executive order was issued, but that SPJ wouldn't be moving its 2016 conference out of New Orleans.

"No, we won't change the conference, but it gives us something to talk about," Fletcher said, adding, "A thousand journalists in New Orleans talking and reporting on it could get really interesting."

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