On Thursday, June 22, 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced new restrictions for state employees on state-funded or state-sponsored travel to four other states that show prejudice against LGBTQ populations: Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. This law does not affect private citizens, only state employees travelling for work. All state-funded or state-sponsored travel to these states will now be prohibited, as all of these states have recently passed exclusionary legislature against LGBT individuals.
In Kentucky, a new law will allow the student organizations at state schools to deny membership to LGBT students. In Texas, Alabama, and South Dakota, new legislature passed this year that allows adoption and foster parent agencies to discriminate against and refuse service to LGBT individuals.
In Texas, Democrats against the new law argued that it amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination; however, Republicans successfully argued that to deny faith-based fostering and adoption organizations these protections would result in them refusing to work in Texas, as they have in other states, adding to Texas’ foster care crisis. The new law does require that prospective parents who are turned away be given a reference to another agency that might better suit their needs. John Wittman, the spokesman of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, responded to the new restrictions by saying, “California may be able to stop their state employees, but they can’t stop all the businesses that are fleeing over taxation and regulation and relocating to Texas.”
According to The Hill, “California’s Democrat-dominated legislature passed a measure last year barring state-funded travel to states that allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” The law is already in effect, banning state-funded travel to four other states: Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee. North Carolina, in particular, has been the target of LGBT activism against their trans-phobic bathroom bill passed last year, which has recently been amended to allow more, but not all, rights for LGBT individuals.
The California law does not ban all travel to these eight states entirely; instead, employees can travel to these states on business for the purposes of collecting tax revenue, engaging in litigation, or to complete on-the-job training. The exemption allows employees to obtain state funding for travel to these states if they must participate in meetings or training in one of these states.
Xavier Becarra said in a statement that California “works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back. That’s why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.” While the travel ban may have little effect on private travel to the affected states and their economies, California has put itself in a position to defend human rights and individual liberties. One can only hope that other states will accordingly follow suit.