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Mayor Murray bans official travel to North Carolina because of anti-gay law

Mayor Ed Murray, center, and spouse Michael Shiosaki, left, greet onlookers during Seattle's 41st annual Pride Parade last June. Photo: JORDAN STEAD, SEATTLEPI.COM

SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is banning city employees from traveling to North Carolina on official business due to a newly passed anti-gay law, Murray said in a brief conversation Monday morning.

An official statement will come from the Mayor's Office later today.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee made a similar move Friday.

The North Carolina Legislature, holding its first special session in 35 years, blocked local governments from passing laws that forbid discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender citizens.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed the legislation. The special session came after the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination by business against members of the LGBT community.

The Republican-run legislature enacted a state law banning discrimination by race, religion, color, natural origin and biological sex -- but excluded gays, lesbians and transgender.

The law supersedes the Charlotte ordinance, which was to take effect on April 1, and blocks any other North Carolina city from taking similar action.

The North Carolina law has stirred vocal opposition from such major corporations as Dow Chemical, Apple Computer, PayPal and American Airlines. The airline operates its second biggest hub in Charlotte.

"We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation: Laws that allow discrimination go against our fundamental belief in equality and are bad for the economies of the states where they are enact," said American Airlines spokesperson Katie Cody.

As Murray prepares his travel ban, the Republican governor of Georgia is taking a far different approach to an anti-LGBT law.

Gov. Nathan Deal is vetoing so-called "religious liberty" legislation that would permit self-identified "faith based" organizations to deny service and employment to gays, lesbians and transgender citizens of the Peachtree State.

Deal's decision comes after concerted pressure from major Georgia business interests.

The travel ban is the second to be imposed by Murray.

A year ago, joined by mayors in Portland, San Francisco and Oakland, he made Indiana off-limits to travel by city employees on official business.

The ban came after a Republican-dominated legislature passed a law permitting discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Business in Indiana protested, and legislators hastily repealed the most odious aspects of the legislation. The West Coast mayors rescinded their ban on April 7, 2015.

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