OLYMPIA – Washington employees were banned from most government-related travel to Mississippi because of that state’s new law allowing businesses owners to refuse service to gay, lesbian and transgender customers for religious reasons.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued the ban on non-essential travel Tuesday afternoon, saying Washington has strong laws against discrimination that covers sexual orientation and identity, and its citizens traveling to Mississippi for work might be discriminated against.
“It is the law of Washington state and the policy of my administration to demand equality for all persons,” Inslee wrote in a memo to department heads. The ban will remain as long as Mississippi’s law exists “in its current form,” he said.
Washington also has successfully sued a floral business for refusing to provide services to a gay wedding because state law does not allow businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Last week Inslee issued a similar ban against non-essential state travel to North Carolina after that state enacted a law requiring transgender people to use public restrooms or other facilities based on their biology at birth, not their gender identity.