California expands to 17 the number of states to which it restricts government-funded travel due to laws deemed discriminatory based on sexual orientation or gender identity, state attorney general said on Monday .
The states added to the sanctions list are Florida, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas, and North Dakota, California Atty. General Rob Bonta said.
Bonta said the new laws in those states were part of a recent wave of bills damaging LGBTQ people, including a Florida law he criticized for preventing transgender women and girls from participating in sexual violence. school sports compatible with their gender identity.
“Rather than focusing on solving real problems, some politicians believe it is in their best interests to demonize trans youth and block life-saving care,” Bonta said. “Make no mistake: We are 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. “
California’s action sparked a strong backlash Monday from leaders of other states.
“While state employees may be banned from traveling here, Californians are fleeing by the thousands to places like Arkansas for our lower taxes, lower cost of living and many opportunities,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed California officials, saying the law he signed is not discriminatory.
“In fact, it’s the opposite – the legislation ensures that women’s sports remain fair,” said Christina Pushaw, press secretary to the governor. “On the contrary, allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports is discriminatory because it puts girls and women at a disadvantage because of enduring and innate characteristics. “
Pushaw, a former California resident, said state politicians here should focus on solving their own state’s problems instead of worrying about Florida.
“It is disappointing that the politicians who make law in Sacramento are unwilling to stand up for women and girls in California,” she said.
Bonta said there have been more than 250 “anti-LGBTQ + bills” introduced in other state legislatures, including more than 95 that discriminate against transgender people.
Under a law approved by the California legislature in 2016, state agencies are prohibited from paying or sponsoring non-essential travel by state employees, commissioners, and others to states that pass laws. deemed discriminatory against homosexuals, lesbians and transgender people, or which repeal the laws which protect them.
There are exceptions for travel required for public health and safety purposes, including law enforcement and litigation, as well as employee training required for state grants and licenses.
Although the law applies to the University of California and California State University systems, many college sports teams have continued to travel to sanctioned states using funds collected from non-state sources. , including private donations.
Additionally, state lawmakers, including some who have supported the travel restricting law, have used political accounts and personal funds for travel to sanctioned states, including Texas, to attend conferences.
Other states previously added to the list include Alabama, Kansas, Idaho, and Kentucky.
The new travel restrictions will be imposed from different dates next month, depending on when the new laws in the sanctioned state come into effect.
Bonta said West Virginia, Montana and Arkansas were also being penalized for laws he said prevent transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
The attorney general also cited a new Arkansas law that he said restricts doctors from providing gender-affirming health care to transgender minors.
North Dakota was added to the list due to a state law that Repeals protections at some public universities by allowing some state-funded student organizations to restrict the participation of LGBTQ students.
Bonta announced the additions to the travel ban list at the GLBT Historical Society Museum in San Francisco, where he was joined by activists and lawmakers, including Assembly member Evan Low (D-Campbell), chairman of the Legislative Assembly LGBTQ caucus.
“It is important that our state sends a strong message that we will not endorse any type of discrimination, whether based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” Low said.