States blast California for 'penalizing' travel to them over LGBTQ legislation

Officials are blasting California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) for adding their states to a list of locations where state-funded travel is banned over pieces of legislation Bonta said is discriminatory against LGBT Americans. 

Bonta announced Monday that Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia were being added to the list, which now totals 17, due to recent GOP-backed laws and proposals restricting transgender girls’ participation on girls sports teams. 

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) responded to the move in a press release Tuesday, saying, “The economic coercion demonstrated by California is an affront to the dignity of other co-sovereign states and amounts to legislating across state borders in an effort to force the radical world view of large states onto those living elsewhere.” 

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“States should not penalize other states because of policy differences,” he added. “Federalism works best when individual states can pursue policies supported by their own constituents, and in West Virginia our office will defend the state’s efforts to protect the integrity of women’s sports.”  

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) in April signed into law a bill barring transgender athletes from playing on girls and women's sports teams in public middle schools, high schools and universities.

The legislation, which followed a line of similar bills in other states, specifically cited “inherent differences between biological males and biological females,” adding, “In the context of sports involving competitive skill or contact, biological males and biological females are not in fact similarly situated.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R), who is currently running for governor in the state, condemned California’s move in a Monday tweet, criticizing it for promoting a “woke” agenda. 

“Our state is on the forefront in the fight for American values & just as I have done for over 6 years as AG, I will always protect our traditional American & Arkansas values as Governor,” she wrote. 

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Bonta responded to the pushback in a statement. 

“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," he said.

As part of the travel ban, California state agencies and departments are prohibited from authorizing state-funded travel to a state that has put in place legislation “authorizing, or repealing existing protections against, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”