California has banned non-essential, state-funded travel to North Carolina.
On Tuesday, the California legislature signed into law AB-1887, which prevents government workers from traveling to the Tar Heel State on official business. The bill was passed in response to House Bill 2, the discriminatory law that forces transgender people to use public restrooms (in government buildings) that do not match their gender identity. It also blocks local legislatures from enacting their own LGBT protections.
Along with banning travel to North Carolina, it also bans travel to any state that allows discrimination against the LGBT community. The California bill could also restrict travel by college sports teams to North Carolina, as the decision applies to the California State University System and University of California.
This would be a huge blow to the state after the NCAA, NBA, and ACC all pulled upcoming games from the embattled state. The Southern Conference — which includes colleges like Samford University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Mercer University, and The Citadel — is expected to follow suit.
AB-1887 would also impact conferences and trainings held in North Carolina.
According to Assemblymember Evan Low, who co-authored the bill, the passage of AB-1887 was necessary to send a message that state-sanctioned discrimination will not stand.
“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.”
Rick Zbur, the Executive Director of Equality California, said that the bill could be a deterrent for the states who have more than 100 anti-LGBT laws under consideration in their legislatures.
“Californians may not be able to stop states like... North Carolina from targeting LGBT people with hateful laws,” said Rick Zbur. “But we can use our power as the world’s sixth-largest economy and choose to not do business there.”
In 2015, California — which is home to Silicon Valley titans like Apple and Microsoft — boasted a $2.44 trillion economy. The University of California Los Angeles’ Williams Institute has further estimated that HB 2 could lead to as much as $5 billion in lost revenue every single year the bill remains the law of the land.
AB-1887, which was sponsored by Equality California and National Center for Lesbian Rights, could also block travel to the 20 states — including Texas, Florida, and Tennessee — that have enacted “religious freedom” laws.
In 2015, Indiana passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed businesses to deny services to LGBT customers based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Known as Senate Bill 101, that law was “fixed” by Gov. Mike Pence after a widespread corporate boycott that led to the loss of $60 million in potential business. The law, however, remains on the books.
California, which is the fifth state to ban government visits to North Carolina, will reportedly keep an updated list of states to which travel is currently blocked posted to its website.