As more states offend NY’s sensibilities, assemblyman calls for blanket travel ban

danny o'donnell


Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Manhattan is, for the third time, pushing for the passage of a bill that would ban state funded travel to places that discriminate.

Bill A.6913 directs the new York state comptroller to prohibit payment of any travel to, from, or within a state that allows businesses to assert right of free exercise of religion as a defense for discrimination.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently implemented travel bans via executive ordfer to Mississippi and North Carolina, following the passage of controversial legislation affecting either gay or transgender people or both in those states. The North Carolina law was put into effect this March and states that transgender people may only use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender at birth. The Mississippi law permits individuals, businesses and government workers to deny services to people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender based on their personal religious views.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has just passed a law that allows mental health professionals to deny service to clients based on their “sincerely held principles,” or religious beliefs.  Some say this would allow therapists to deny service to gay or transgender people.

“I urge [Gov. Cuomo] to instate a travel ban to Tennessee,” O’Donnell said. “I do not have to extrapolate on how this is directly discriminatory to individuals that identify as LGBT or to those that hold any beliefs that are different from the beliefs of their medical provider,” said O’Donnell.

Elected in 2002, O’Donnell is the first openly gay man to be elected into the New York State Assembly.

“New York is a progressive leader on human rights, and we must make the equal treatment of all citizens a priority,” said O’Donnell. His bill memo states it would make it the clear, unequivocal policy of New York to not support other states’ attempts to discriminate against their own citizens. Under this legislation, the governor would not need to issue an executive order travel ban on a case-by-case basis.

The Assembly bill has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee as of April 10. The Senate bill is sponsored by Michael Gianaris and resides in the Finance Committee.