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Vermont mayor issues controversial travel ban to 'protect' transgender people

Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, issues a ban on travel to North Carolina to "protect" city employees. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

The mayor of Vermont’s largest city has banned official travel to North Carolina for city workers to protect them from experiencing discrimination.

Burlington, Vermont, Mayor Miro Weinberger, a member of the state’s Democratic Party, signed an executive order on Monday preventing any city employee from traveling to North Carolina on official business.

“North Carolina’s new law does nothing to protect transgender individuals and creates a unique prohibition against municipalities taking any action to reduce discrimination,” Weinberger said in a statement, according to a report by the Burlington Free Press. “Burlington will stand with the many other cities from around the country that will continue to boycott North Carolina until the state ends this discriminatory practice.”

North Carolina approved a repeal and replace bill for its controversial House Bill 2, which was approved in 2016, in March. The new bill, House Bill 142, removed the mandates in House Bill 2 requiring people to use public bathrooms according to the biological sex listed on their birth certificate. However, HB 142 also prevents local governments and school boards from passing any laws governing multiple-occupancy bathrooms, unless those laws are in compliance with laws passed by the state’s General Assembly.

Currently, there are no state laws that grant or forbid transgender people from using the restroom of their choice. This effectively means local businesses could allow or forbid transgender people from using bathrooms not in line with their biological gender. Transgender people who choose to ignore the dictates of a business owner that requires customers to use restrooms based on biological sex could potentially be prosecuted for trespassing.

Weinberger’s executive order echoes the decisions made by several cities and states who say HB 142 doesn’t go far enough. California, Washington State, and Chicago have announced they will continue to ban their employees from traveling to North Carolina.

“As a welcoming city for all, we are clear on our values of tolerance and inclusion, and we won’t stand by idly when discriminatory policies threaten the rights of any single group or community,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “Until North Carolina acknowledges the rights of the LGBTQ community and treats all individuals fairly, the City of Chicago will be taking our business elsewhere, and we encourage others to do the same.”

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