As states around the country grapple with legislation many consider anti-LGBTQ+, the Dane County Board passed an ordinance amendment Thursday which prohibits travel of elected county officials or employees to places which discriminate against people based on things like sexual identity.
According to the amendment county officials and employees will not be reimbursed for their travels if they do go to a state which discriminates against LGBTQ+ people.
The amendment passed in a 31-1 vote with county Sup. Michael Willett, District 32, being the one vote against.
Sup. Chuck Erickson, District 13, said the amendment was modeled after a similar law in California which prohibits some state officials and employees from traveling to states which discriminate against peoples’ sexual identity. The California law includes specific states where officials and employees are not allowed to travel.
The current states which fall under the prohibition includes Alabama, which recently passed a law making it so adoption agencies can deny same-sex couples from adopting a child, and Mississippi.
But the amendment does not include a specific list of states where travel is prohibited since the list might change as the states change their own laws, Erickson said.
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“We’re going to look at it on a state-by-state basis,” Erickson said. “We wanted the flexibility. When [discriminatory laws] are rebuked, a state such as North Carolina might not be on that list, so we might have to tweak this going forward.”
Erickson said there are several exemptions to the amendment including travel for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and juvenile residential treatment.
The Personnel and Finance Committee may grant an exception to the travel prohibition, according to the amendment.
Sup. Hayley Young, District 5, said there have been many attacks on LGBTQ+ people in the state, including recent legislation regarding health care coverage for transgender individuals.
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“[The amendment is] both showing solidarity and putting our money where our mouth is because travel dollars have an economic impact where you’re going to,” Young said.
Sup. Richard Kilmer, District 4, said he wished the U.S. had a leader like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who recently condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for not protecting Chechnyans’ gay rights.
Erickson said he hopes the Madison City Council and state legislature create and pass similar legislation.
“We need to do what we can to stem the anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination that is growing in this country,” Kilmer said.