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California bans state-funded travel to South Carolina, citing gay 'discrimination' in foster law

Key Points
  • California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announces a ban on state-funded travel to South Carolina, citing a measure on the books that enables faith-based foster agencies to "discriminate" against gays and others.
  • Becerra says the ban becomes effective April 15 and will prohibit state-funded and state-sponsored travel.
  • A California law passed in 2017 prohibits state-funded or state-sponsored travel to states that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
  • Tuesday's action makes South Carolina the 10th state on California's travel ban list.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaking at press conference in Sacramento, California in March 2019.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday announced a ban on state-funded travel to South Carolina, citing a measure on the books that enables faith-based foster agencies to "discriminate" against gays and others.

"The State of South Carolina recently enacted a measure that sanctions discrimination against families in the placement of children in need of homes," said Becerra, a Democrat. "The State of California strongly stands against any form of discrimination."

Becerra said the ban becomes effective April 15 and will prohibit state-funded and state-sponsored travel to South Carolina.

According to Becerra's office, the "discriminatory provision" in the South Carolina law, known as H-4950 and enacted on July 5, 2018, was "buried deep within a general budget bill." It said the provision contains wording that "enables private faith-based child-placing agencies to discriminate against those who do not conform to their religious belief or moral convictions, including members of the LGBTQ community."

Becerra's office pointed out a California law that went into effect in 2017, Assembly Bill 1887, prohibits state-funded or state-sponsored travel to states that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Nine other states were previously subject to California's travel ban: Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

The ban could force California public university athletes to stay across state lines for games in South Carolina, including students from the University of California and the California State University.

"South Carolina's discriminatory measure comes on the heels of other actions taken in the state prior to enactment of H-4950," Becerra's office in a release.

Specifically, it said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, requested in 2018 that the Trump administration "waive all applicable anti-discrimination regulations" for a faith-based foster care agency that was receiving public funds. As a result, the California Attorney General's office said, agencies in South Carolina were able to take information on the faith of people applying to become foster parents and then use it to reject families "solely on the basis of those beliefs."

McMaster did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, McMaster's spokesman, Brian Symmes, sought to make light of the news from Becerra, quipping on Twitter: "En route to EMD headquarters to figure out if the governor needs to declare a state of emergency. How will South Carolina recover?"