California has now banned state employee travel to Florida and four more states because of laws that purportedly discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, the state attorney general announced Monday.
Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta restricted state-funded travel to Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia, adding these states to a list that now includes 17 states where state-sponsored travel is prohibited.
"When states discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, California law requires our office to take action," Bonta said. "These new additions to the state-funded travel restrictions list are about exactly that. It's been 52 years to the day since the Stonewall Riots began, but that same fight remains all too alive and well in this country. Rather than focusing on solving real issues, some politicians think it's in their best interest to demonize trans youth and block life-saving care.
"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."
The laws Bonta claims "demonize trans youth and block life-saving care" are fairness in women's sports bills, legislation that would prevent men who identify as transgender women from competing on sports teams associated with their self-proclaimed gender identity. California lawmakers banned nonessential travel to states that adopted or are considering such laws in 2016, a list that includes Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.
Bonta's office identified fairness in women's sports laws in Florida, Montana, Arkansas, and West Virginia as cause for the travel ban.
The attorney general also called out Arkansas for passing a law that makes transgender surgeries and cross-sex hormone prescriptions illegal for minors and North Carolina for adopting a law that permits certain publicly funded student organizations, say a religious group, to restrict LGBT students from joining by citing conscience rights without losing funding.
Reacting to the announcement, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' office ridiculed California and accused "politicians in Sacramento" of failing to stand up for women's rights.
"Congratulations to California for somehow managing to create a new way to politicize its bureaucracy," DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw said. "The bill Governor DeSantis signed is not discriminatory; in fact, it's the opposite — the legislation ensures that women's sports remain fair. On the contrary, allowing biological males to compete in women's sports is discriminatory, because it puts girls and women at a disadvantage based on immutable, innate characteristics.
"It is disappointing that the politicians calling the shots in Sacramento are not willing to stand up for women and girls in California."
Pushaw added that despite the ban on state-funded travel, Florida will continue to welcome any Californians who wish to travel for tourism or to become new residents.
"In fact, I am originally from California myself — but I am thrilled to live in Florida now, because progressive dogma has turned my home state into a nightmare of crime, unemployment, closed schools, failing businesses, and high taxes," Pusahw said. "I respectfully suggest that California's government focus on fixing the problems in their own state instead of worrying about Florida."