California's latest shot in the culture war between the states — part of the larger war for business and jobs — appears to have fallen short of the mark. The state's Democratic Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, announced last month that he was barring state-funded travel to four states that he says discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents. But the states are largely shrugging off the order and telling California to mind its own business.
Becerra said the states — Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas — all recently passed laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation. The ban comes on top of a ban on travel to four other states — North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kansas — enacted by Becerra's predecessor, Kamala Harris, now a U.S. Senator.
"To travel to these states at state expense would mean that we would be using taxpayer dollars to support these states, and we think it would be an offense to all these individuals in America who feel the scourge of discrimination," Becerra said on June 23.
Becerra said the ban, which he claims is mandated under a California law passed last year, sends a message that "there are consequences to discrimination." But he could not quantify what those consequences might be. For example, officials are still trying to figure out if the ban will apply to athletic teams from the state's colleges and universities. The University of California football team is scheduled to take on the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill on September 2, while UCLA is scheduled to travel to Memphis for a game on September 16. In any case, officials in the targeted states were generally unmoved.
"California may be able to stop their state employees, but they can't stop all the businesses that are fleeing over taxation and regulation and relocating to Texas," said John Wittman, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.