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California to end travel ban to states with anti LGBTQ laws

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California to end travel ban to states with anti LGBTQ laws


California State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego speaks on the Senate floor in Sacramento, California on September 12, 2019. On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, Atkins called on the state to end its ban on state-funded travel to states with policies that discriminate against LGBTQ people. Now the ban includes around half of the 50 states, and Atkins says “it has burdened academic researchers and sports teams at public colleges and universities.” 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — When North Carolina restrained transgender people from using gender-identifying restrooms in public buildings in 2016, California ruled against LGBT people with laws it deemed discriminatory. The measure countered a ban on state-funded travel to other states.

But seven years later, following an increase in anti-LGBT laws in Republican-dominated states, California now bans state-funded travel in nearly half the state. 

The ban means sports teams at public colleges and universities have had to find other ways to pay for road games in states like Arizona and Utah. And it complicated some of the state’s other policy goals, such as using state money to pay for people who live in other states to travel to California for abortions.

State Senate President Tony Atkins heralded a bill Wednesday that would end the ban and replace it with state-wide advertising campaigns that promote acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQ community. The bill would establish a campaign fund that would accept private donations and state funding — if available.

“I think polarization doesn’t work,” said Atkins, who is lesbian. “We have to adjust our strategy. We know what we have to do, but we have to be there to do it.”

Transforming the ban could be difficult in the California legislature, where 10% of lawmakers now are found to be of LGBT community. Assemblyman Evan Low, a Campbell Democrat who authored the 2016 travel ban, said he supported the ad campaign but said “we shouldn’t completely end California’s state-funded travel ban without having alternative measures to combat discrimination “.

“We cannot back down, especially when a record amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is being introduced,” said Low, who is gay.

The California travel ban has been in effect since 2017. The attorney general maintains a list of states covered by the ban, a list that has grown rapidly as several states have passed laws restricting doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors and stopping transgender women. and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

More on Travel Laws


California Attorney General Rob Bonta

California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) told that California has included five more states, including Florida, in the list of places where state-funded travel is prohibited because of the laws that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community.

“Make no mistake: We are in the middle of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination in this country — and the state of California will not stand for it,” Bonta said, announcing the ban on state-funded travel to Florida. Arkansas, North Dakota and West Virginia, Montana.

Today, the ban covers 23 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

The law applies to state agencies, departments, boards, offices and commissions – including schools that are part of the University of California and California State University systems.

That means schools like UC Berkeley can’t use state money to have their football teams travel to road games in Arizona and Utah — schools they have to play against because they’re in the same athletic conference.

Exception to the Law

The law has some sort of exceptions, including travel necessary to enforce California laws, fulfill contractual obligations, or obtain grant funding. It is also possible to travel for health and safety purposes. So last year, a member of state security was able to travel to Montana for a vacation with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s family.

However, it has complicated some of the Democrats’ policy goals in surprising ways. Previous year, California agreed to spend $20 million to help women in other states travel to California for abortions as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Initiatives by the State

“We can help someone fly to California or travel to California, but when they have to go back to Texas or Florida or any of those states, we can get them home. “I can’t really legally spend the money to ship it.” complicated.

Atkins told that she will introduce the bill formally on Thursday, which would be vetted by lawmakers in both the state Senate and Assembly before becoming law — a process that will take several months.

“When you don’t agree with someone, you should try to open their eyes to change their hearts and minds, not pretend they don’t exist,” said Assemblyman Greg Wallis, R-Bermuda Dunes. “I’m glad California is taking that approach.”

Marc Stein, a history professor at San Francisco State University who is gay and researches queer history, said he would like to hear from LGBTQ communities in other states before deciding whether to support lifting the travel ban.

But Stein said he would like to see an exemption for social justice research. He said he had trouble booking a trip to North Carolina shortly after the travel ban went into effect to investigate the case of a transgender woman who was arrested for sodomy in the 1960s.

Stein said the university eventually found a way to fund his research, but said the hurdle remains for other researchers, especially students pursuing advanced degrees.

“I think Ph.D. students in California are discouraged from doing research projects that would require extensive travel to a list of states, which is now almost half the country,” he said.

Contributed by Ankit Raj Sharma

Edited by Imtiaz Ullah

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