Becerra puts several states on no-travel list
Attorney general faces criticism in dispute over LGBTQ rights.
— California officials faced criticism Friday for barring official travel by government employees to several states in a dispute over laws affecting the LGBTQ community.
It started Thursday when California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra prohibited state employees from official travel to Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas based on his determination that they have enacted laws that are discriminatory based on sexual orientation and gender identification.
“Each of those states in the recent weeks have enacted legislation that may deprive some of the individuals of those states and individuals who visit those states of their constitutional rights,” Becerra said during a news conference in San Francisco.
The action drew criticism from the offices of Texas’ and Kentucky’s governors, which noted that California has its own problems to deal with.
“California may be able to stop their state employees, but they can’t stop all the businesses that are fleeing over taxation and regulation and relocating to Texas,” John Wittman, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s press secretary, said Friday.
A spokesman for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin also criticized California officials.
“It is fascinating that the very same West Coast liberals who rail against the president’s executive order, that protects our nation from foreign terrorists, have now contrived their own travel ban aimed at punishing states who don’t fall in lockstep with their far-left political ideology,” said Woody Maglinger, Bevin’s press secretary.
The California Legislature approved a bill last year that prohibits state-sancSACRAMENTO tioned travel to North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas, Tennessee and other states with laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The measure was in response to a North Carolina bill that overturned an ordinance in the city of Charlotte that allowed transgender people to use public restrooms based on the gender with which they most identify.
“There are consequences to discrimination,” Becerra said. “Restricting statesponsored travel is a consequence.”
Becerra put Texas on the travel-ban list after the governor last week signed HB 3859, allowing foster care agencies to deny adoptions and services to children and parents based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Becerra said the measure allows agencies to discriminate against children in foster care and potentially disqualify LGBTQ families from the state’s foster and adoption system.
He put Kentucky on the banned-travel list for a new law signed in March that Becerra said could allow student-run organizations in colleges and K-12 schools to discriminate against classmates based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“While the California DOJ works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back,” Becerra said. A spokesman declined to comment on the criticisms from Texas and Kentucky.
The ban comes just as some California politicians are heading to Dallas to attend the annual conference of the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials this week.
Sen. Ricardo Lara (DBell Gardens), who is gay, is in Texas to attend the conference. A spokesman said Lara is using his own money, not taxpayer funds, and felt the event was important amid the debate over immigration law.
“Texas just passed one of the nation’s most antiimmigrant laws with Senate Bill 4, and California went down this road with Proposition 187 more than 20 years ago,” Lara said. “With LGBT and immigrant rights under assault across the country, I thought it was important to join other Latino leaders and show California’s example.”
ATTY. GEN. Xavier Becerra has barred official travel to Kentucky, Texas and other states.