ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is banning state employees from nonessential travel to North Carolina because of that state's new law limiting official protections for gays and lesbians and transgender people.
Dayton sent a letter Saturday to all state employees, directing them to stop all nonessential travel to North Carolina for conferences or other official state business until further notice. The Democratic governor says North Carolina's new law "violates the values and the laws" of Minnesota.
The new law also requires transgender people to use public restroom facilities that correspond with their gender at birth.
Dayton joins a growing list of governors and mayors who've forbidden trips to North Carolina. The policy allows state-funded travel to North Carolina if it's necessary to protect the safety "or other essential interests" of Minnesotans.
News of Dayton's decision comes as similar legislation is being considered in Minnesota.
Trans and Racial Justice Director for Outfront Minnesota Rozanne Anderson said they fully support Dayton's travel ban.
"Dictating where people go to the bathroom is a slippery slope and it's reminiscent of a time and an era we've already been through," Anderson said.
Hamline University political science Professor David Schultz explained the travel ban is ultimately about money.
As part of state agency the Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit has already cancelled plans to send employees to an upcoming conference in North Carolina.
"Let's say a whole bunch of other states and cities do that, collectively, that might be enough to actually exert some type of economic power against North Carolina," Schultz said.
The ban comes as Republican lawmakers in Minnesota introduced similar legislation that requires transgender people to use restrooms in schools and businesses that match their biological sex at birth.
Dayton has promised to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
"This is going to be a new part of our society. It's not something that is going to go away and its not something you can legislate away," Anderson said.
Republican authors of the bills here in Minnesota did not get back to WCCO for comment as of Saturday night.
Minnesota Family Council, which supports the North Carolina law sent WCCO a statement calling the governor's travel ban "irrational and anti-woman."
The statement read in part:
"North Carolina's legislation provides protection for everyone by preserving the purpose of restrooms as safe facilities where biological needs are met. The Governor's opposition to providing basic, essential protection for women and girls in intimate places suggests that perhaps travel should be banned to Minnesota due to our Governor's condemnation of basic safety and privacy measures for women and girls!"
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