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Gov. Newsom signs bill replacing California’s state travel ban over LGBTQ laws with outreach funding

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Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill effectively ending California’s travel ban to more than half of U.S. states over LGBTQ laws, and replacing it with a plan to fund outreach and foster acceptance of that community.

State Sen. pro Tempore Toni Atkins, the powerful San Diego Democrat who authored the bill, announced the governor’s signing Wednesday afternoon with a photo of Newsom signing the legislation on the back of the Capitol’s golden bear statue. The legislature approved the law as an urgency measure and it became effective immediately.

“California is standing strong against anti-LGBTQ+ hate!,” Atkins’ social media post said, adding that her bill, SB 447, “creates the BRIDGE Project — a campaign to open hearts and minds, promote inclusivity, and support LGBTQ+ communities nationwide!”

Newsom in a statement thanked Atkins for “this important measure that enables California to continue taking a stand for the rights of LGBTQ+ people throughout the country and combating intolerance and hate with empathy and allyship.”

“In the face of a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, this measure helps California’s message of acceptance, equality and hope reach the places where it is most needed,” Newsom said.

California’s state travel ban was enacted with a 2016 law, AB 1887, by Assemblyman Evan Low, a Cupertino Democrat who is gay. The law restricted state agencies, departments, boards and commissions from state-funded travel to states that have adopted what California considers discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Atkins, who is a lesbian, said that while the law originally restricted travel to four states, the number since has grown to more than half the country, demonstrating that the ban wasn’t working. In July, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced his office was adding three more states — Missouri, Nebraska and Wyoming — to the list, bringing it to a total of 26.

The laws in question that have led California to expand its travel ban mostly dealt with transgender access to school bathrooms, participation in youth sports and “gender affirming” hormonal and surgical procedures on children, a matter that has roiled school boards, health care and athletics in recent years. Advocates for those laws argue the policies protect girls’ rights and kids, while critics called them anti-LGBTQ.

Statistics provided by the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBTQ group, seemed to affirm that the travel ban wasn’t effective in preventing anti-trans or anti-LGBTQ laws and policies. The group reported in May that a record 520 “anti-LGBTQ+ bills” have been introduced in state legislatures. The group said 70 laws have been enacted, including 15 “banning gender affirming care for transgender youth,” seven “allowing misgendering of transgender students,” four “censoring school curriculum” and two “targeting drag performances.”

Atkins said that the travel ban had become counterproductive.

“As the years have passed, the travel ban has had the unintended impact of further isolating members of the LGBTQ+ community in those states, and hampering Californians from being able to conduct research, business, and engage with all people from those states,” Atkins said in a statement.

“With an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills having been introduced in state legislatures nationwide, California can further position itself as a national leader on inclusivity and serve as a beacon of hope and support for those who have been isolated by state-sponsored discrimination elsewhere,” Atkins said.

The travel ban had become a political liability for Newsom, who was criticized last year for traveling to one of the banned states, Montana, to visit his wife’s family. Newsom’s office said at the time such personal and privately paid travel is not considered state sponsored and financed under AB 1887, but declined to say whether California paid for any accompanying security staff.

Low has defended AB 1887 and argued that repealing it would amount to backing down in the face of what he’s called a record amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“While the removal of our state-funded travel ban to these states does not protect Californians from potential harm,” Low said in a statement Thursday, “I am hopeful that the BRIDGE project will help change hearts and minds in states that have pursued and enacted anti-LGBTQ laws.”





Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill effectively ending California’s travel ban to more than half of U.S. states over LGBTQ laws, and replacing it with a plan to fund outreach and foster acceptance of that community.

State Sen. pro Tempore Toni Atkins, the powerful San Diego Democrat who authored the bill, announced the governor’s signing Wednesday afternoon with a photo of Newsom signing the legislation on the back of the Capitol’s golden bear statue. The legislature approved the law as an urgency measure and it became effective immediately.

“California is standing strong against anti-LGBTQ+ hate!,” Atkins’ social media post said, adding that her bill, SB 447, “creates the BRIDGE Project — a campaign to open hearts and minds, promote inclusivity, and support LGBTQ+ communities nationwide!”

Newsom in a statement thanked Atkins for “this important measure that enables California to continue taking a stand for the rights of LGBTQ+ people throughout the country and combating intolerance and hate with empathy and allyship.”

“In the face of a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, this measure helps California’s message of acceptance, equality and hope reach the places where it is most needed,” Newsom said.

California’s state travel ban was enacted with a 2016 law, AB 1887, by Assemblyman Evan Low, a Cupertino Democrat who is gay. The law restricted state agencies, departments, boards and commissions from state-funded travel to states that have adopted what California considers discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Atkins, who is a lesbian, said that while the law originally restricted travel to four states, the number since has grown to more than half the country, demonstrating that the ban wasn’t working. In July, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced his office was adding three more states — Missouri, Nebraska and Wyoming — to the list, bringing it to a total of 26.

The laws in question that have led California to expand its travel ban mostly dealt with transgender access to school bathrooms, participation in youth sports and “gender affirming” hormonal and surgical procedures on children, a matter that has roiled school boards, health care and athletics in recent years. Advocates for those laws argue the policies protect girls’ rights and kids, while critics called them anti-LGBTQ.

Statistics provided by the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBTQ group, seemed to affirm that the travel ban wasn’t effective in preventing anti-trans or anti-LGBTQ laws and policies. The group reported in May that a record 520 “anti-LGBTQ+ bills” have been introduced in state legislatures. The group said 70 laws have been enacted, including 15 “banning gender affirming care for transgender youth,” seven “allowing misgendering of transgender students,” four “censoring school curriculum” and two “targeting drag performances.”

Atkins said that the travel ban had become counterproductive.

“As the years have passed, the travel ban has had the unintended impact of further isolating members of the LGBTQ+ community in those states, and hampering Californians from being able to conduct research, business, and engage with all people from those states,” Atkins said in a statement.

“With an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills having been introduced in state legislatures nationwide, California can further position itself as a national leader on inclusivity and serve as a beacon of hope and support for those who have been isolated by state-sponsored discrimination elsewhere,” Atkins said.

The travel ban had become a political liability for Newsom, who was criticized last year for traveling to one of the banned states, Montana, to visit his wife’s family. Newsom’s office said at the time such personal and privately paid travel is not considered state sponsored and financed under AB 1887, but declined to say whether California paid for any accompanying security staff.

Low has defended AB 1887 and argued that repealing it would amount to backing down in the face of what he’s called a record amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“While the removal of our state-funded travel ban to these states does not protect Californians from potential harm,” Low said in a statement Thursday, “I am hopeful that the BRIDGE project will help change hearts and minds in states that have pursued and enacted anti-LGBTQ laws.”

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