California has banned state-funded and state-sponsored travel to North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kansas.
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.
Last year, the Tar Heel State created a firestorm of controversy with the passage of House Bill 2, which among other grievances, prevents transgender people from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. In response, California joined several states, businesses, entertainers, and sports leagues in a boycott.
“California has said clearly, our taxpayer dollars will not help fund bigotry and hatred,” Low stated in a press release. “If other states try and pass similar laws, we will work to stop them. Our zero-tolerance policy says there is no room for discrimination of any kind in California, and AB 1887 ensures that discrimination will not be tolerated beyond our borders.”
As a result of AB 1887, any state that passes laws that repeal LGBT protections, attacks the rights of same-sex couples or LGBT families, or creates exemptions for these families in existing antidiscriminatory laws will be added to the list of states subject to the travel ban.
Roy Cooper, the new governor of North Carolina, has vowed to repeal HB 2, although efforts to do so in December failed. Last April in Tennessee, Republican governor Bill Haslam signed House Bill 1840 into law, which allows licensed counselors to turn away LGBT people suffering from mental health issues. That same month, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523 into law, which allows businesses, individuals, and religiously affiliated organizations to deny services to LGBT people, single mothers, and others who somehow offend an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.”
In March 2016, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law legislation that allows student groups at public colleges and universities to engage in discrimination without penalty — as long as the discrimination is rooted in those same “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Low told the Bay Area Reporter that he was “disheartened” to see any states included on the list.
“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.”