December 2, 2023

Travel Hawaii

It's Your Travel Hawaii

Groups demand government travel ban to nearly half of country over healthcare access

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – At the close of Pride Month, eleven organizations are taking a stand. They have co-signed a letter asking the Governor, four county mayors, the University of Hawaii’s president, and the Department of Education superintendent for government travel bans to 20 states.

Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia, places that the organizations say have blocked access to health care including abortion and gender-affirming care.

“It seems like it’s for those states that are actively degrading human rights,” said Tui Scanlan, IATSE Local 665, a co-signer of the letter.

With conferences coming up in the fall, the group’s organizer says some state and county workers have privately complained they don’t want to travel to those 20 states.

“They may not be out at work, and the idea that they may have to travel to a state that is outwardly hostile toward them, that they may not feel comfortable using the bathroom at a conference, that they would be put in harm’s way, we should not be putting our ohana in harm’s way using taxpayer dollars,” said Michael Golojuch Jr., Stonewall Caucus Chair, a co-signer of the letter.

In a statement, Governor Green’s office said his team is reviewing the group’s communication.

“His team is reviewing the communication from the advocacy groups. Meanwhile, the Governor’s Administration has taken decisive stances upholding reproductive rights and steadfastly supports the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Office of the Governor Director of Communications Makana McClellan.

In 2016, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell banned city officials from taking non-essential publicly funded trips to North Carolina and Mississippi as part of a national backlash against anti-LGBT laws.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi told Hawaii News Now he hasn’t seen the letter yet but will talk to Governor Green about it.

“I have a real concern about the treatment of minorities and certainly the banning of health practices,” said Blangiardi.

“This is unprecedented for me. I’m not sure we can do that, but maybe we can,” Blangiardi added.

California has bans for state-funded travel to nearly half the country. It means sports teams have to find other ways to pay for road games to states like Arizona and Utah. Now some lawmakers are looking to end the ban and replace it with advertising that promotes acceptance.