PHILADELPHIA — The Democratic mayor of Philadelphia has banned city employees from non-essential government travel to cities and states that have passed laws that he deems as being discriminatory toward homosexuals and transsexual persons.
In April, following controversy over North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act and Mississippi’s Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, Mayor Jim Kenney was among the officials who decided to issue travel bans for government employees.
“By issuing a non-essential travel ban to those states, we take a stand against bigotry and prejudice happening in those states, and in cities and states nationwide,” he said in a press release. “I will continue to actively welcome any and all people, businesses, organizations and events who no longer feel welcome in their state because of these discriminatory laws.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy and Vermont Gov. Peter Schumlin were among those who issued bans as well.
Now, Kenney has announced bans on travel for official business to the state of Tennessee for its bill allowing counselors to opt out of counseling homosexuals over their religious convictions about the lifestyle, as well as Oxford, Alabama for its bill requiring citizens to use the restroom that correlates with their birth gender.
“I am announcing this ban in response to the enactment of legislation that infringes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in these jurisdictions,” Kenney said in a staetment. “I will reconsider this ban if the States of North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and the city of Oxford, Alabama choose to repeal their discriminatory legislation.”
Employees may travel for public health or safety reasons upon pre-approval from the Philadelphia managing director’s office.
Like Barack Obama, Kenney’s office also urged observance of the month of June as “LGBT Pride Month,” stating that it is is “an opportunity to listen to one another, to share our perspectives, to remember our history, to celebrate our individuality, to identify where our experiences overlap, and to use this information to make our communities better, stronger, and more inclusive every single day.”
The city website includes listings of various events throughout the month including the Trans Health Conference Celebration on June 10 at the Municipal Services Building, which includes a pep rally and the raising of a “trans pride flag,” and the “Philadelphia Dyke March” at Kahn Park on June 11.
Kenney has additionally been listed as a “friend of pride” by Philly Pride Presents, the organizers of the annual Philadelphia PrideFest and parade.
As previously reported, homosexuality was banned in Pennsylvania at its inception. The 1682 “Great Law” of Pennsylvania, penned by its Quaker founder William Penn, required criminal penalties for those who engage in homosexual acts.
“And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any person shall be legally convicted of the unnatural sin of sodomy or joining with beasts such persons shall be whipped and forfeit one third part of his or her estate and work six months in the house of corrections at hard labor, and for the second offence imprisonment as aforesaid during life,” it read.
Kenney identifies as a Roman Catholic, but has often had a tense relationship with those in the religion.