Fischer to CA: Louisville should not be included in travel ban

Fischer to CA: Louisville should not be included in travel ban

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Mayor Greg Fischer is asking the state of California to exempt Louisville from a travel ban recently created by state officials.

The ban prohibits state-funded travel to Kentucky and several other states, in response to laws California considers discriminatory against the LGBTQ community.

Kentucky's freedom of religious expression bill, or Senate Bill 17, was passed in March.

In a few days, the bill will go into effect. It aims to protect the expression of religious or political viewpoints in public schools.

The bill caught the attention of the California Attorney General, who called it discriminatory against LGBTQ members and instituted a travel ban against the state of Kentucky.

The ban was issued on Thursday. It bans all state-funded trips to Kentucky, Alabama, Texas and South Dakota. The pre-existing list includes, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

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On Sunday, Fischer sent a letter to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Sunday, explaining why he believes Louisville should not be included in the travel ban.

"Louisville is a forward looking, inclusive city that has scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Committee scorecard for two years in a row," Fischer wrote. "Louisville is inclusive and open to all. We model our city on those values. Additionally, to be a city that grows jobs and economic competitiveness, the global economy demands communities that are welcoming and compassionate."

Senate Bill 17, when it passed back in March, had overwhelming support. The inspiration behind SB17 came after a school cut a religious line from the play, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

"It starts with a premise that a lot of people can agree with and that is you should be able to have a freedom of religious expression," Senator Morgan McGarvey said.

McGarvey, who voted against the bill said it has the potential to be read as discriminatory.

"That is not who we are, it's not who we want to be," McGarvey said. "It's not the signal we want to send to the rest of the country."

However, that is the exact interpretation California's Attorney general has taken away from SB17.

Christ Hartman, the director of the Fairness Campaign, said this is the kind of issue that his group warned about during SB17's hearings and testimonies.

"This was an unnecessary piece of legislation and that it could have unintended consequences and this is clearly one of them," Hartman said. "Now the bill has harmed the state economically."

Hartman and McGarvey both pointed out that this closes doors on economic opportunities for Kentucky. McGarvey said he already heard doubts about a convention scheduled for next summer.

"About 700 people, a large contingent of them, are from California," McGarvey said. "State employees in California, and they've already put the call out to say they may not do the convention in Kentucky."

Hartman pointed out the same, that the bill may lead to fewer conventions in Louisville each year. Hartman was also quick to point out that SB17 is not an inherently discriminatory bill. He also added that so far, there have been no documented cases of discrimination that people may have feared would happen.

The CA Attorney General's office said as long as discriminatory laws exist within a state, they will uphold the ban.

The travel ban does not affect regular travelers.

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