Cuomo Urged to Ban State Travel to Idaho in Wake of Anti-Trans Laws

Manhattan Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell.
Manhattan Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell.
Facebook/ Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell

Out gay Manhattan Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell penned a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 25 encouraging him to impose a ban on non-essential travel to Idaho by state officials in response to that state enacting two draconian transphobic laws earlier this year.

The letter comes several months after Idaho Governor Brad Little signed one piece of legislation banning folks born in Idaho from changing the gender marker on their birth certificate and another unprecedented bill banning trans girls and women from participating in sports. That bill also shockingly allows for the general public to dispute a student-athlete’s gender identity, triggering an invasive testing process based on debunked notions about gender.

Daniel O’Donnell, out gay Manhattan assemblymaker, presses governor to cut ties with the potato state

“Both of these bills constitute cruel and unconstitutional attacks on transgender individuals, subjecting them to discrimination and denying their identities,” O’Donnell said in his note to the governor. “These laws put vulnerable transgender youth at risk, and further targets a population that already contends with high rates of suicide, homelessness, and harassment.”

O’Donnell’s request follows similar moves in the past when Cuomo banned non-essential travel to states like Mississippi, North Carolina, and Indiana in 2015 and 2016 after those states passed a range of anti-LGBTQ laws.

The birth certificate bill is already standing on shaky legal grounds. In 2018, US District Court Judge Candy Dale in Idaho issued a permanent injunction and ruling stipulating that policies banning such changes to birth certificates were unconstitutional and discriminatory against transgender individuals. As a result, officials in the state were required to allow trans people born in Idaho to correct the gender markers on their birth certificates.

Lambda Legal filed a motion in federal court in April asking Dale to provide confirmation of her earlier ruling, prompting her to do just that on June 1.

“[T]he plain language and objective of the Order and Judgment entered in this case permanently enjoin [the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare] from infringing on the constitutional rights of transgender individuals by automatically rejecting applications to change the sex listed on their birth certificates to match their gender identity,” Dale wrote.

O’Donnell indicated in his letter that he expects both laws to have difficulty being upheld in court, telling Cuomo that he would like travel to be banned “until such time as they reverse two recent bills attacking the transgender community.”

“New York has always been a national leader in LGBTQ rights,” the assemblymember wrote. “It is vital that we continue to show that New York does not accept hate in any State in this country, and that we will do whatever it takes to ensure transgender Americans are protected.”

Referring to the June 15 employement nondiscrimination ruling from the nation’s high court, O’Donnell continued, “While the Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County was a major step forward for LGBTQ rights in this country, we still have a long fight ahead of us. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Today, that means that New York must stand firm in our values and support our transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming communities across the United States.”

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