California bans state-funded travel to five states over heinous anti-LGBT+ laws


California has added Florida, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas and North Dakota to its list of locations where state-funded travel is banned due to anti-LGBT+ laws.

Of the five, West Virginia, Arkansas and Florida have implemented laws directly attacking trans people, while North Dakota and Montana have signed bills weaponising “religious freedom” against LGBT+ rights.

They join 12 others on already on California’s travel restrictions list: Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

The announcement was made by the state attorney general Rob Bonta on Monday (28 June), the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

“When states discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, California law requires our office to take action. These new additions to the state-funded travel restrictions list are about exactly that,” Bonta said.

“It’s been 52 years to the day since the Stonewall Riots began, but that same fight remains all too alive and well in this country. Rather than focusing on solving real issues, some politicians think it’s in their best interest to demonise trans youth and block life-saving care.

“Make no mistake: We’re in the midst of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination in this country – and the state of California is not going to support it.”

The state law has certain exemptions, including trips needed to enforce California law and to honour contracts signed before prior to the ban, but travel to conferences or out-of-state training can be blocked.

California adopted the law in 2017 after Texas allowed state-funded foster care and adoption agencies to deny services to LGBT+ parents due to religious beliefs.

At the time, Texas’ Republican governor joked that Californian businesses would “flee over taxation and regulation” and move to Texas – but that’s not quite how it panned out.

Three years later the Texas attorney general was threatening legal action against California for “attempting to punish Texans for respecting the right of conscience for foster care and adoption providers”.

He petitioned the Supreme Court to block the law, claiming California had committed an unconstitutional act of discrimination against Texas by no longer paying for state employees to travel there.

The Supreme Court did not agree. In a 7-2 decision on 26 April judges refused to consider Texas’ challenge and immediately tossed it out of court, giving no reason for the denial.

With the ban successfully upheld California was free to add more anti-LGBT+ states to the list, taking the total to 17.

“It’s important for our state to send a strong message,” said assemblymember Evan Low, chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, reported by Politico.

He said the list’s expansion also reassures state workers that they won’t be required to travel to states discriminating against LGBT+ and trans youth, where “our opponents are motivated by fear and hate”.