Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday joined a growing boycott of North Carolina in response to a law viewed by many as discriminatory against gays, lesbians and transgender people.

Board Chair Hilda Solis and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl proposed suspending all official county travel to the state of North Carolina “unless the chief executive officer determines that the failure to authorize such travel would seriously harm the county’s interests.”

“There is nothing like speaking out to really change the world,” Kuehl said, adding that transgender people were demanding “what America promises in terms of fairness, equality and justice.”

The board approved the motion on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Michael Antonovich dissenting without comment.

The board will also send a letter to the governor and legislators of North Carolina calling for the repeal of the law, known as HB2. Among other things, the law requires transgender people to use bathrooms that match the sex designation on their birth certificate, and not the gender they identify with.

“We want to end discrimination and we want to hear about it,” Solis said, noting the board’s work in defense of Muslims, immigrants and disenfranchised voters.

“Last October, this board voted unanimously to stand up for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in the Los Angeles County child welfare system by proactively training county workers to more fully address the unique needs of these children,” according to the motion by Solis and Kuehl. “HB2 requires us to stand up again, in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.”

Transgender advocates applauded the move, saying that North Carolina’s legislation falsely depicts transgender people as predators when they are instead the victims of predators.

“Transpeople matter. Transpeople deserve to be safe,” activist Drian Juarez told the board.

Marianna Marroquin of the Los Angeles LGBT Center thanked the board, but said she was frustrated that HB2 forced her to “fight for the right to use a bathroom, when so many other important things are happening.”

One young man instead urged the board to “honor traditional family values,” saying that the open use of restrooms would create “a lot of confusion, leaving a lot of space for crime.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas disagreed.

“HB2 and measures like it are often framed as protective … (but are) anything but protective,” Ridley-Thomas said, calling them “vehicles to instill fear and hate” that often lead to violence.

Porter Gilberg, executive director of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, said the Long Beach City Council was considering a similar boycott.

“As the whole nation watches, I am incredibly proud to live in a county that stands on the right side of history,” Gilberg said.

The board also directed staffers to report back in 60 days on any county policies that could be in need of updating to reflect legal standards relating to gender identity or expression, “including the provision of all- gender restrooms.”

The Los Angeles City Council voted earlier this month to boycott both North Carolina and Mississippi, where a law was recently passed that Councilman Mike Bonin said allows rental-car companies to turn away gay couples and allows suicide hotline counselors to refuse to help gay people.

The cities of New York, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Cincinnati, Santa Fe, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, as well as the states of Connecticut, Minnesota, New York and Vermont, are among those that have also adopted boycotts of North Carolina.

—City News Service

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