Out-of-state LGBT officials take the lead on travel bans, while Sen. Hoylman remains on sidelines

  • Out Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and out California Assemblymember Evan Low are amongst the out-of-state LGBT officials taking leading roles to enact travel bans to North Carolina, a state where a law was recently enacted to permit discrimination against LGBT residents.

  • Even straight officials, such as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, are taking action on behalf of their LGBT allies.

  • Meanwhile, out New York State Senator Brad Hoylman inexplicably remains quiet.

New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea), center, was elected to replace the retiring dean of New York State's out LGBT elected officials, former New York State Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Chelsea). Former State Sen. Duane was a leading figure head of the state's LGBT community in terms of advocacy done from within Government. Source : New York State Senate/Official Photograph/Public Domain

New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea), center, was elected to replace the retiring dean of New York State's out LGBT elected officials, former New York State Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Chelsea). Former State Sen. Duane was a leading figure head of the state's LGBT community in terms of advocacy done from within Government. Source : New York State Senate/Official Photograph/Public Domain

By LOUIS FLORES

As out LGBT officials from the West Coast and straight-ally politicians from his own home turf have threatened to eclipse him, New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea) has remained mum as the LGBT community has threatened to use, or has turned to the use, of travel bans and boycotts to counteract a new wave of bills and laws that will make it legal to discriminate against the LGBT community in states across America.

State Sen. Hoylman represents the Lower West Side of Manhattan, encompassing the West Village, Chelsea, and Hell's Kitchen -- an historically important, geographical base of New York's LGBT community. It is not known why State Sen. Hoylman is shying away from taking a visible, national role to stand up for the LGBT community. For this report, State Senator Hoylman did not answer a request sent to his official and private e-mail accounts.

State Sen. Hoylman was sworn into office in 2013 to replace retiring State Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Chelsea), who announced his retirement in 2012. Former State Sen. Duane was seen as an important figure head of LGBT civil rights advocacy done within Government. One notable occasion when former State Sen. Duane deliberately withdrew support from a national LGBT organising effort was in 2000, when then State Sen. Duane and other out LGBT elected officials in New York refused to support the Millenium March in Washington, DC, an event that organisers had hoped would be a large showing of support by the nation's LGBT community. That deliberate withdrawal was reportedly based on the lack of grassroots involvement in and support for the march, according to news reports at the time.

A political reversal of fortune

In the time since, the LGBT community has been buoyed by the U.S. Supreme Court's recognition of marriage equality for same-sex couples and by the repeal of the U.S. Armed Services' former discriminatory policy, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In New York, the appearance of achieving LGBT equality led to the decision to dissolve one of the state's leading LGBT advocacy organisations, the Empire State Pride Agenda. However, in a reversal of political fortune, an ideological backlash has developed within local and state Governments that seeks to overturn some of the perceived national civil rights gains made by the LGBT community. A law was passed in March 2016 by the North Carolina State Legislate and signed into law by then Gov. Pat McCrory (R-North Carolina) that would deny transgender individuals the right to use bathrooms that matched their gender identity. The North Carolina law, referred to as the "bathroom bill," has triggered a wave of political action by the nation's grassroots LGBT activists, and this pressure from activists coupled with leadership by other out elected LGBT officials have converged to enact forms of economic sanctions against the state of North Carolina. The economic sanctions have notably taken the form of travel bans.

Out Mayor Ed Murray (D-Seattle) and out California State Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) have respectively led the charge in their jurisdictions to enact travel bans to North Carolina in response to the de jure discrimination now codified into law. Even Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City), whose own New York Police Department has reportedly refused to subject themselves to an audit of their compliance to LGBT guidelines in the Patrol Guide, has supported economic sanctions against North Carolina, but State Sen. Hoylman has been absent from the national conversation about a growing wave of legalised discrimination against LGBT Americans. Elected officials in the State of Virginia are planning their own version of a discriminatory bathroom bill.

Although the Democratic Party has been counted upon for support to expand and defend equal civil rights, some establishment Democratic Party officials have sought to divorce the politics of civil rights from the supremacy of a laissez-faire economy. The role of money in politics may also serve to explain why some neoliberal officials refuse to allow legal issues, such as discrimination, from having an adverse impact on the Big Business community. If elected officials enact discriminatory laws against LGBT residents in the State of Texas, for example, information culled from two studies estimate that the range of anticipated costs of economic sanctions to that state could reach as high as $8.5 billion in lost economic activity. Advocating for equality would position advocates as being costly to business. Before State Sen. Hoylman was elected to public office, he served as general counsel to the Partnership for New York City, a lobbying group of New York's largest corporations. On its Web site, the Partnership of New York City has identified the sectors of retail and tourism as sufficiently important to merit a dedicated advisory board. Because New York serves as the nation's commercial capital, its member corporations represent some of the nation's largest businesses.