California Latest to Affirm N.C. Travel Ban Despite HB2 Replacement

by Chris Johnson, Washington Blade

California has joined the growing number of jurisdictions keeping in place travel bans to North Carolina enacted in protest over House Bill 2 despite the state's governor signing into law a replacement for the anti-LGBT measure.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Wednesday his state with keep in place its ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel and expenditures to North Carolina, citing criticism the new law continues anti-LGBT discrimination.

"California is inclusive," Becerra said in a statement. "We take pride in protecting the rights of all our people. Discrimination is unacceptable and we intend to protect LBGT rights. California's law was enacted to ensure that, with limited exceptions, our taxpayer resources are not spent in states that authorize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. North Carolina's new law does not cure the infirmity of this type of discrimination."

The new North Carolina law, House Bill 142, prohibits prohibits municipalities, state agencies and the University of North Carolina from the "regulation of access" to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the legislature's permission. It also bans municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures that would apply to private employment or public accommodations until 2020.

Much to the consternation of LGBT advocates, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, signed the law after closed-door negotiations with Republican leaders of the state legislature. Their agreement was intended to alleviate economic boycott to the state as a result of HB2 in time for a deadline set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to repeal the law, or lose championship games for years to come. The NCAA later announced the new law was "minimally" acceptable to again consider championships in the state.

Becerra has authority to determine whether a state should be subject to a travel ban under Assembly Bill 1887, a law signed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown prohibiting state-sponsored travel from California to state that roll backs LGBT rights. North Carolina was already among the states where California banned travel as result of HB2 in addition to Mississippi, Tennessee and Kansas.

The announcement makes California the second state to affirm its ban on state-sponsored travel ban on North Carolina will remain in place despite the replacement law. Gov. Mark Dayton has signaled he'll keep Minnesota's ban prohibiting state employees from engaging in non-essential travel to the state.

The other states that enacted travel bans to North Carolina after the enactment of HB2 -- Vermont, New York, Connecticut and Washington State - have yet to declare they'll keep their bans in place. In fact, Washington State has indicated its ban is now lifted now that North Carolina has modified HB2.

As the nation's largest state, California assertion its travel ban will remain in place carries significant weight and could encourage the other states to follow suit.

Municipalities that have declared they'll keep their travel bans to North Carolina in place are New York City; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Los Angeles; Oakland; Santa Fe; Cincinnati; Salt Lake City; Palm Springs, Calif.; West Palm Beach; Portland, Maine; Burlington, Vt; and Wilton Manors, Fla.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association.This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.
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