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New York’s travel ban over religious freedom law hits Southern Miss sports: games canceled, revenue lost

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on nonessential travel to Mississippi prevents New York university from playing there

The New York state government’s backlash to Mississippi’s religious freedom law has forced the baseball team from the University of Southern Mississippi to give up several of its home games, costing it revenue shortly after it enacted millions of dollars in budget cuts and layoffs.

The religious freedom law, House Bill 1523, forbids the Mississippi government from taking “any discriminatory action” against individuals, businesses or religious organizations who refuse to provide service to people based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” But New York’s political leaders have declared that legalized discrimination and forbid non-essential travel there.

Shortly after the law’s passage about two years ago, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order “banning all non-essential state travel to Mississippi,” according to the governor’s website. Cuomo referred to the Mississippi law at the time as “a sad, hateful injustice against the LGBT community,” and will not allow New York employees to go to that state on nonessential business until the law is repealed.

Due to that travel ban, the baseball team at the State University of New York at Stony Brook cancelled three games scheduled to take place in Mississippi this semester, according to The New York Daily News.

Reached via email, Southern Mississippi spokesman Jack Duggan told The College Fix that the cancellation “will have a bit of economic impact for our program as we lose the single-game revenue for those three home dates. You also have to go on the road now, but we’re confident in our ability to handle the adjustment and I don’t think it will affect our season in any way.”

The lost revenue comes shortly after the University of Southern Mississippi was forced to cut its budget by $80 million, laying off 20 employees at the same time. The school may face an additional two percent in funding cuts in the near future.

In addition, last July the university laid off three employees and eliminated over thirty vacant job positions due to state budget cuts.

The College Fix reached out to both Stony Brook University and New York Governor Cuomo’s office for comment. Neither responded.

Cuomo had previously banned all nonessential travel to North Carolina due to that state’s legislation mandating that individuals in government buildings cannot use the bathrooms of the opposite sex. Stony Brook spokesman Brian Miller told The Mississippi Sun Herald that college officials “did not realize that the travel ban included Mississippi…We knew it was North Carolina, but we did not realize that it included Mississippi.”

MORE: California’s travel ban harms university research more than it helps LGBTQ cause

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IMAGE: David Carillet / Shutterstock.com

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