California bans state travel to Florida, 4 other states

Politics

FILE – In this April 23, 2021, file photo, California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks in Sacramento, Calif. California added five more states, including Florida, to the list of places where state-funded travel is banned because of laws that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, the state attorney general announced Monday, June 28, 2021. Bonta added Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia to a list that now has 17 states where state employee travel is restricted. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California added five more states, including Florida, to the list of places where state-funded travel is banned because of laws that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, the state attorney general announced Monday.

Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta added Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia to the list that now has 17 states where state employee travel is forbidden except under limited circumstances.

“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,” Bonta said.

Lawmakers in 2016 banned non-essential travel to states with laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The 12 other states on the list are: Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee.

The five states newly added to the list have introduced bills in their legislatures this year that prevent transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, block access to health care and allow the discrimination of the LGBTQ community, Bonta said.

Florida, Montana, Arkansas, and West Virginia passed laws that prevent transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

North Dakota signed into law a bill allowing certain publicly-funded student organizations to restrict LGBTQ students from joining without losing funding.

Arkansas passed the first law in the nation to prohibit physicians from providing gender-affirming healthcare to transgender minors — regardless of the wishes of parents or whether a physician deems such care to be medically necessary.

These lawmakers “would rather demonize trans youth than focus on solving real issues like tackling gun violence beating back this pandemic and rebuilding our economy,” Bonta said.

The state law has exemptions for some trips, such as travel needed to enforce California law and to honor contracts signed before the states were added to the list. Travel to conferences or out-of-state training are examples of trips that can be blocked.

It’s unclear what effect California’s travel ban will have. Bonta did not have information about how many state agencies have stopped sending state employees to the states on the list or the financial impact of California’s travel ban on those states.

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