Politics

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has asked for his city to be exempted from California’s recently announced ban on state-funded travel to Kentucky.

The travel ban was announced last week by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who accused Kentucky of passing a law that steps on the rights of LGBTQ citizens.

In his letter, Fischer asked Becerra to consider exempting some cities from the restrictions.

“It is my belief that cities like ours should be rewarded for inclusive behavior, not penalized; a waiver would highlight our inclusivity and encourage other cities to follow accordingly,” Fischer said in his letter.

“Louisville is inclusive and open to all. We model our city on those values. Additionally, to be a city that grows jobs and economic competitiveness, the global economy demands communities that are welcoming and compassionate.”

Mayor Fischer’s letter to California AG

Earlier this year, Gov. Matt Bevin signed Senate Bill 17 into law, which supporters say bolsters First Amendment protections for religious speech in public schools and universities.

Opponents, including the ACLU of Kentucky and Fairness Campaign, have criticized the new law for language that bars school officials from interfering with how religious and political student groups select their members.

In the wake of the California attorney general’s announcement last week, a spokesman for Bevin compared the action to federal courts that blocked President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions for people from some Middle Eastern and African countries.

“It is fascinating that the very same West Coast liberals who rail against the President’s executive order, that protects our nation from foreign terrorists, have now contrived their own travel ban aimed at punishing states who don’t fall in lockstep with their far-left political ideology,” said Woody Maglinger, Bevin’s press secretary.

The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment to Fischer’s appeal for a reprieve from California’s travel ban.

Texas, North Dakota and Alabama were also included in the sanctions, citing the recent passage of laws that restrict adoption of children by LGBTQ couples.

Kentucky’s new law — which takes effect on June 29 — was filed in response to a 2015 controversy that arose in Johnson County over a school production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

School officials altered the script of the play to remove religious references, leading London Republican Sen. Albert Robinson to sponsor the legislation that he said brings resolution to the issue.

Robinson defended the legislation in an interview last week. He said there’s nothing in the bill that “requires or even permits any discrimination of anybody anywhere whatsoever.”

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.