Cuomo issues irrational travel ban


Although Cuomo’s judgment is sound, there are better ways to protest against discriminatory laws

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant passed a discriminatory law that allows businesses and nonprofit organizations the right to deny services to members of the LGBTQ community. In response, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned all non-essential travel to Mississippi. As a result, all travel plans made by government correspondents that engage in political business must be reviewed by New York state agencies.

As a justification for the decision, Gov. Cuomo declared that New York state supports and advocates strongly for equality for everyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Until the law is either satisfactorily amended or nullified, the ban will continue to be enforced.

The controversial laws in Mississippi currently on the books are intended “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government.” The legislation pays tribute to and exemplifies First Amendment rights, according to Bryant.

The enactment of the law was prompted by the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and, of course, the belief that gender is determined only by the anatomy a person is born with. The law allows businessmen and officials to deny services to people who identify as or transition into a gender they were not born into. One of the main issues here is the fact that licensing or performing marriages can be denied if the person officiating the marriage has religious conflictions in opposition to same-sex marriage.

This is too reminiscent of the case opened up last year featuring Kim Davis, who denied a couple’s legal marriage due to the fact that the couple was of the same sex.

In light of all of these issues, Cuomo has taken action in order to demonstrate his support for the LGBTQ community. Essentially, this action allows him to speak for New York state and pass on a message of solidarity—through the most indirect means possible.

This is not the first time that Cuomo issued out travel bans for certain states. In prior years, Cuomo imposed bans on the state of Indiana and, most recently, North Carolina. The ban in North Carolina was instituted as a measure to stand up to the clause that members of the LGBTQ community could use any bathroom they wanted without any legal repercussion. The laws prohibited transgender people from entering the facilities in which they felt most comfortable. For Indiana, Cuomo had been prompted by similar reasons.

While Cuomo’s response was dignified and made with good intentions in mind, it is unreasonable to declare that New York state government employees and workers may not be allowed to travel to Mississippi, regardless of the justification. As much as the newly enacted laws in Mississippi are a point of valid concern, they do not call for the unprecedented action of travel restriction, even if the restrictions apply only to official business.

This, in fact, seems more equivalent to the ruling style a tyrant or a dictator occupies, rather than a democratically elected leader. Grandfathering and overlooking the decisions that should come to anyone almost as easily as we breathe in air are not techniques that should be employed by any leader.

Gov. Cuomo has a solid standpoint on religious perspectives obstructing the freedom of certain members of a society. As admirable as they may be, his reactions are not just. His decisions encroach on the basic freedoms of the people he leads. Travel destinations cannot be dictated, and travel rights should not be forcibly removed at will. The decision to fly or travel is not determined by the individual governing institution. The major qualm with this action is that Cuomo assumes the position of a ruler, rather than a leader, which is what his colleagues and government members consider him. At least Cuomo’s viewpoints remain consistent throughout different events.