June 1, 2018 at 3:54 pm PDT | by Karen Ocamb
California adds Oklahoma to travel ban over LGBT discrimination

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Assemblymember Evan Low, Rick Zbur, Executive Director, Equality California, and Cathy Sakimura, Deputy Director and Family Law Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights, June 1 San Francisco (Photo courtesy NCLR)

Red states like Oklahoma and Kansas might not care that California is calling them out for their explicit LGBT discrimination, but the state’s taxpayers do, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference Friday.

As of June 22, state-funded and state-sponsored travel will be prohibit to Oklahoma in response to Gov. Mary Fallin signing a “religious freedom” law on May 11 allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny child placement services to same-sex parents and to refuse to place LGBT foster children in homes based on religious or moral grounds related to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer also signed an anti-LGBT bill the next day, on May 12, but that state is already on the California travel ban list. Kansas’ previous governor, Sam Brownback, had a long history of anti-LGBT attitudes and actions, including signing an anti-LGBT student bill  in 2016.

Oklahoma’s law, Senate Bill 1140, is scheduled to go into effect on November 1. At the news conference, Becerra said he wanted to give fair warning to Californians and others who might be planning conferences in Oklahoma with significant California participation.

“California law requires that my office identify and maintain a list of states which are off-limits for state-funded or state-sponsored travel,” Becerra said. “California will not use state resources to support states that pass discriminatory laws. The law enacted in Oklahoma allows discrimination against LGBTQ children and aspiring LGBTQ parents who must navigate the adoption process. California taxpayers are taking a stand against bigotry and in support of those who would be harmed by this prejudiced policy.”

Diversity and inclusiveness is also good for everyone, including the state’s business. “”It’s so important that we understand what it means to celebrate Pride month,” says Becerra, “having pride in being part of a forward leaning state that believes in diversity, in inclusion, in welcoming people. We are proud of that because it has made us a very successful place. You don’t become the fifth largest economy in the world unless you’re doing something right. So we take great pride in conveying to everyone in our state that we respect you, we welcome you and we wish you to thrive here in California. Not just here – but anywhere in America you go, that we’ve got your back. “

“AB 1887 was enacted to ensure our taxpayer dollars do not fund bigotry – no exceptions. California is a state of inclusion and has long stood up against discrimination in any form, within our borders and beyond,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus and author of the travel ban bill. “I stand with Attorney General Becerra as he holds our values high and ensures we do not put any state money behind other states’ discriminatory policies.”

“Every child deserves a loving, supportive family, and it’s neither pro-child, nor pro-family, for Oklahoma to deny them one,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur, who choked up talking about his own three children and the harms done by such laws against children. “California taxpayers won’t subsidize Oklahoma’s — or any state’s — discriminatory policies, and we’re grateful to Attorney General Becerra for taking this decisive action today in support of equality for all.”

“We applaud the Attorney General for ensuring that California taxpayer dollars are used to support our state’s values of inclusion and equality,” said Cathy Sakimura, National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director. “Oklahoma’s law allows adoption agencies to deny children safe and stable homes merely because their adoptive parents are LGBT, denying our families equal dignity and harming children.”

Becerra says his office has heard from companies and organizations in different states wanting to know if California would exempt them from the ban. While he may sympathize, “we don’t do that,” – grant individual exemptions. Low noted that it’s still a relatively new law so there is no real tracking of the consequences yet, though the reach is long from tourism companies to Fortune 500 companies are aware of California’s ban.

States Subject to AB 1887’s Travel Prohibition

The following states are currently subject to California’s ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel:

Alabama
Kansas
Kentucky
Mississippi
North Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas

And as of June 22—Oklahoma.

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