Salt Lake City mayor Jackie Biskupski joined a growing list of elected officials who have banned official city travel to states with anti-LGBT laws: Mississippi and North Carolina.
Jackie became Utah’s first openly gay city mayor in November 2015 when she beat out incumbent Ralph Becker, who was also a Democrat. In 2009, Ralph himself signed an anti-discrimination law like the one now banned in Mississippi and North Carolina. Four years later, he officiated some of the state’s first gay marriages.
Biskupski has since then carried on Ralph’s progressive stances toward LGBT rights. In a speech announcing the Salt Lake City travel ban, Jackie noted that the traditionally conservative city had changed significantly on the issue over the past decade, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.
“Salt Lake City embraces diversity, and we recognize our success as a community depends on inclusion and protection for everyone. Our nation and our local community have come too far to allow our progress to be undermined by desperate laws that seem designed only to limit opportunity and access for certain individuals.”
Salt Lake City’s travel ban for anti-LGBT law states does come with a few exceptions. City-sponsored trips that have already been paid for will not be canceled. Furthermore, any city business involving legal or contractual obligations and “the protection of public health, safety, and welfare” will also be exempted.
Biskupski and other Utah politicians speaking in support of the Salt Lake City travel ban also encouraged Mississippi and North Carolina businesses to move to Utah to protest the anti-LGBT laws. That letter was also sent to PayPal, which pulled out of a deal with North Carolina to open a global operations center because of the state’s discriminatory actions. City Council Chairman James Roger underlined the importance of the state taking a stand against the new policies, reported the Tribune.
“Fairness and equality are more than political footballs to be tossed around when politicians put politics over their humanity. We as a city and a council have taken actions over the years to make the capital city a welcoming beacon for.”
Salt Lake City’s travel ban comes on the heels of a full state ban in Vermont, New York, and Washington. Governors in each of those states released similar statements regarding a commitment to LGBT rights and also allowed similar exceptions to the Salt Lake City travel ban. Politico reviewed New York’s travel records and found that the vast majority of state trips would not have been canceled because of the response to the anti-LGBT law — 80 percent of the cases reviewed by the news site would have gone through regardless.
Jackie Biskupski has made the eradication of discrimination against minority groups a main priority during her short time in office. While receiving an award for recognition of her achievements at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, she told the audience that actions like the Salt Lake City travel ban were essential to fighting anti-LGBT state laws in places like Mississippi and North Carolina, reported The Desert News.
“I have to make sure we are moving in the right direction as a city. We all have religious freedom. We live in America. People using that to oppress groups of people are desperate. They are desperate to somehow be better than everyone else and in the end it will not last. We will all eventually be treated equally.”
[Image via George Frey/Getty Images]