Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at a recent conference in Austin, Texas. (John Clark for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Atlanta’s Mayor Reed bans city travel to North Carolina

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed joined other elected officials this week in banning non-essential travel by city employees to North Carolina.

New York City, and state, as well as San Francisco, Seattle, the District of Columbia and Boston cited the Tar Heel State’s newly enacted law deemed discriminatory towards gays, lesbians and transgender people as reason for the travel prohibition.

“As a result of Governor Pat McCrory’s decision to sign discriminatory and unnecessary legislation into law, effective today I am directing all city departments to stop non-essential, publicly-funded employee travel to the state of North Carolina,” Reed said in a statement. “Every person, regardless of their gender, gender expression or sexuality is a valued member of our community.”

A McCrory spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

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While Reed’s ban is somewhat symbolic — his office couldn’t immediately say how many employees traveled to North Carolina on business last year — it ratchets up the political pressure on, and national disdain for, McCrory and North Carolina over the swift passage of legislation prohibiting local governments from enacting anti-discrimination laws. The law also keeps transgendered men and women from using the bathroom of their choice.

Dozens of CEOs have also criticized the measure. Some have gone further. PayPal, the Silicon Valley payment processing giant, announced Tuesday it was canceling a planned expansion — and 400 jobs — in Charlotte.

“The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, said in a statement.

Mayor Reed’s ban is Atlanta’s second recent slap at North Carolina. City council members last week introduced a resolution urging the National Basketball Association to move its 2017 all-star game from Charlotte to Atlanta.

McCrory’s office responded to the attempted all-star game swipe by noting that the state’s cherished University of North Carolina basketball team would be playing in the collegiate basketball championship in Houston whose residents last year rejected an anti-discrimination ordinance.

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