California Bans State-Funded Travel To Four States With Bigoted Laws


California won’t be seceding from the rest of the nation anytime soon, but The Golden State is making an important statement about the discrimination of LGBT people across the country. Starting this month, the state will ban travel to four states — North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kansas — which have been at the forefront of the battle to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community, enacting legislature that would strip individuals who identify as such of their human rights.

Two things before all of us freak out about this country turning into a communist wonderland due to the “special snowflakes that are going to rob everyone of guns and the ability to use homophobic slurs!” One, this only refers to state-sponsored travel. That means that no one’s going to stop you from visiting sweet aunt Maggie in Kansas, it’s just that if you’re trying to go to one of the four states mentioned above via state funding, it’s not happening. Two, this news isn’t just a protest; it’s the result of a new bill that makes California’s stance on the issue of civil rights very, very clear.

From The Advocate:

The ban is the result of Assembly Bill 1887, in which the state’s legislature determined “California must take action to avoid supporting or financing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The bill, signed into law in September 2016, went into effect January 1, 2017. It was co-sponsored by Equality California and co-authored by Assemblyman Evan Low, who is gay, in response to discriminatory legislation in North Carolina.

Why these four states specifically? North Carolina’s a given, considering its widely criticized HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity, but the other states may be a surprise, considering their anti-LGBT policies haven’t been as widely covered.

In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback, who’s historically been opposed to granting rights to the LGBT community, proudly signed a bill that would allow university student groups at public institutions of higher learning to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgender students (among others), on the grounds of “religious freedom.”

What’s happening in Tennessee and Mississippi is equally discouraging. In Mississippi, HB 1523 promised to allow business owners and religious institutions to refuse goods and services to anyone whose lives they disagreed with on a religious basis. That means that not only would gay, lesbian, and transgender people be discriminated against, but that religious organizations — enjoying more protection than before — could fire single women who became pregnant.

In Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam signed HB 1840 into law. This bill, which puts the beliefs of a mental health counselor over their duty to help others, allows practitioners to deny services to a client who identifies as LGBT, something the Trevor Project notes is especially damaging in a state with large rural areas, where LGBT individuals who need psychological assistance may already be struggling with access to mental health services.

Make no mistake: California isn’t happy about what they have to do, but the state isn’t backing down in the face of bigotry and hatred. According to The Bay Area Reporter Assemblyman Low, who was instrumental in getting AB 1887 passed, isn’t gleeful about the fact that California’s cutting off travel to the states mentioned above; he’s disappointed. But until states stop signing discriminatory bills into law, he told The BAR, the list is a necessity:

“Our state has clearly said our taxpayer dollars will not fund bigotry or hatred,” Low said. “If other states try to pass similar laws, we will do everything we can in our power to stop any type of discrimination from happening to Californians. As you know, our zero tolerance policy says there is no room for discrimination of any kind in California and this bill ensures discrimination will not be tolerated of any kind outside our borders.”

(Via The Advocate)