The "travel ban" is a clickbait phrase that's become a popular subject for the 24-hour news cycle. SCOTUS's decision to mostly reinstate President Trump's ban is certainly getting most of the attention, but there's another travel ban that should be making headlines -- but has largely gone unnoticed.
California has banned state-funded and state-sponsored travel to EIGHT states that it says has laws discriminating against LGBTQ groups.
The eight states are: Texas, Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Tennessee.
AB 1887 bans state-funded or state-sponsored travel by employees of state agencies and departments as well as members of boards, authorities, and commissions. It might also be modified to include universities, bringing sports teams into the equation.
AB 1887 says California is "a leader in protecting civil rights and preventing discrimination," and should not support or finance "discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."
Alabama, South Dakota, and Texas all recently passed legislation that could prevent LGBTQ parents from adopting or fostering children, and Kentucky passed a religious freedom bill that would allow students to exclude LGBTQ classmates from campus groups.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said:
"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. That's why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it." - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
The state of Kentucky and its politicians are calling California's reaction extreme.
“I’m sorry California feels that way but it’s their choice,” said Senator Albert Robinson, who sponsored the religious freedom bill. “It’s still overwhelming to me that 1 percent of the population can change the laws against the wishes of 99 percent of the people.”
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said, “It's 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."
And Senator Rand Paul noted, "I thought we fought the Civil War a long time ago. We were going to be one country, not separate countries. Banning travel, I think, is a really really shortsighted response."
As to the Kentucky legislation in question. Here's what AB17 reads:
Local boards of education must ensure that “no recognized religious or political student organization is hindered or discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs, selection of leaders and members, defining of doctrines and principles, and resolving of organizational disputes in the furtherance of its mission, or in its determination that only persons committed to its mission should conduct these activities.”
LGBTQ critics say this could lead to discrimination. Robinson, however, maintains that his legislation is not discriminatory.
“If students at a school want to have a Bible study group, that would be fine under my bill. I think they would welcome homosexuals to their groups as long as the homosexuals understand that both the Old and New Testament say that homosexuality is a sin,” he said.
Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign in Kentucky, said the California ban is “a very real and unfortunate consequence in passing laws that can even be vaguely perceived as being against the LGBT community.”
There are exceptions to the California travel ban. Travel is granted to maintain grant funding or licensure, or for auditing and revenue collection purposes.
And of course, anyone can travel to any of the states on the list in a personal capacity.