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California Bans State-Funded Travel to Oklahoma Due to Discriminatory Law

Oklahoma City skyline
Robert Kixmiller/Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma's new "license to discriminate" law on adoptions got it added to California's list.

California has added Oklahoma to the list of states under its travel ban, prohibiting nonessential state-funded travel to states with anti-LGBT laws.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the addition Friday, due to Oklahoma's recent enactment of a law allowing religiously affiliated adoption and foster care agencies with state contracts to turn away prospective parents who pose a conflict with their faith tenets -- which will allow for discrimination against LGBT people, interfaith couples, and more.

"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 in a news release. "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."

The ban goes into effect June 22. Oklahoma's discriminatory law, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin May 11, takes effect November 1. Kansas recently adopted a similar law, but it was already on the travel ban list because of other discriminatory legislation.

Other states on the list are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Exceptions to the ban are if California employees are required by a court to go to any of these states, or need "to investigate a crime, investigate a tax dispute or comply with a gran," The Sacramento Bee reports.

LGBT rights groups praised the move. "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 in the attorney general's press release. "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."

The California law, Assembly Bill 1887, was sponsored by Assembly member Evan Low, chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, and took effect last year. "AB 1887 was enacted to ensure our taxpayer dollars do not fund bigotry - no exceptions," Low said in Becerra's press release. "California is a state of inclusion and has long stood up against discrimination in any form, within our borders and beyond."

Some Oklahoma business groups had opposed the adoption legislation, partly out of fear of economic repercussions. "We opposed the legislation, as we oppose all discriminatory legislation," Cynthia Reid, vice president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "One of the reasons we opposed it is for this reason [the California ban] right here."

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