Taxpayers’ money “will not be used to let people travel to states who chose to discriminate,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the Associated Press Thursday upon adding Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, and Kentucky to the list of places where state employee travel is restricted.
The ban is in accordance with California legislation that bans nonessential travel to states with anti-LGBT laws. Already on the list: North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennesee.
In a political climate where travel bans seek to encourage discrimination, the policy turns that approach on its head. Texas found its way onto the banned states list after passing a law that lets child welfare charities deny adoption and other services to LGBT families due to "sincerely held religious beliefs." Kentucky has put in place a new law that tolerates if not encourages anti-LGBT discrimination in schools, according to Becerra's office.
Officials in the targeted states responded with a bit of defiance. “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, a spokesman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, told the AP.
However, anti-LGBT laws have often made businesses flee when North Carolina enacted its anti-LGBT House Bill 2, it spurred a boycott of the state, leading to serious economic losses. Besides numerous concerts being canceled, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA pulled collegiate athletic championships out of the state in protest. And defending the state in numerous lawsuits surrounding HB 2 cost North Carolina's leadership at least $176,000 in legal fees, forcing the legislature to divert $500,000 from the disaster relief fund to then-Gov. Pat McCrory's office, Wired noted last year. According to the think tank Center for American Progress, business boycotts and pullouts cost North Carolina another $87.7 million, a huge chunk from when PayPal canceled its planned expansion in the state. Under a new governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, HB 2 has been repealed, but LGBT rights groups said the replacement law did not go far enough in preventing discrimination.
In another state, Indiana, outcry from businesses was key in forcing the legislature to "fix" the 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act so that it would not supersede local antidiscrimination ordinances.