Photo by CHUTTERSNAP via Unsplash

The California attorney general announced on June 28 that five more states will be added to the list of places where state-funded travel is banned due to laws that are in place that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Rob Bonta, General Democratic Attorney, added Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia to the list that now has 17 states where state employee travel is forbidden except under limited circumstances. 

“Make no mistake: We’re 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,” Bonta said.

The biggest and only damage that this situation will cause California is that it will restrict the states’ participation with other states, according to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. 

“(The ban) is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law,” Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office. “I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

In 2016, lawmakers banned non-essential travel to states with laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The 12 other states on the list are: Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The newly added states to this list have introduced bills in their legislatures this year that prevent transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, block access to health care and allow the discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community, according to Bonta.

Hutchinson stated during a conference, however,that he believes “they can spend their time doing something a little bit different than trying to be punitive for other states that make the decisions that each state makes based upon where they are.” 

“I’m not worried about it at all,” he concluded.

While Florida, Montana, Arkansas and West Virginia have passed laws that prevent transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, North Dakota has signed into law a bill allowing certain publicly-funded student organizations to restrict LGBTQ+ students from joining without losing funding.

The law has exemptions for some trips, however, such as travel needed to enforce California law and to honor contracts signed before the updated ban.

Trips that are blocked are out-of-state traveling to conferences and out-of-state training. 

Both sides from the Left and Right have their own opinions upon the state ban. 

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R), who is currently running for governor in the state, condemned California’s move in a Monday tweet, criticizing it for promoting a “woke” agenda.

Despite the thoughts that Rutledge and many like her have, many people are still in favor of the California ban as it opens the window for more inclusivity and tolerance from other states. 

Written ByElyce Hastings

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