✅ End state travel ban

Participants in the 49th annual Los Angeles Pride Parade in West Hollywood in 2019. Photo by Richard Vogel, AP Photo
Participants in the 49th annual Los Angeles Pride Parade in West Hollywood in 2019. Photo by Richard Vogel, AP Photo

By Alexei Koseff


Seven years after California prohibited publicly-funded travel to states with anti-LGBTQ laws, it may reverse course. SB 447 by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat who is the first openly gay leader of the chamber, would repeal a travel ban that has proved largely ineffective, restricting Californians more than those it was intended to punish. In its place, the measure would create an advertising program to promote LGBTQ inclusion across the country.


Many LGBTQ advocates, including leading civil rights organization Equality California, joined the effort, calling for a new direction focused on changing hearts and minds. California State University and its faculty union — whose academic researchers and student athletes turned to private donations to get around the travel restrictions — also backed the measure.


Though SB 447 faced no organized opposition, critics including Republican legislators argue it would be inappropriate to spend potentially millions of dollars annually trying to influence other states. Assemblymember Evan Low, the Cupertino Democrat behind the travel ban, did not vote to repeal it.


Prompted by North Carolina’s then-highly controversial move to require people to use only bathrooms corresponding with their sex at birth, California’s travel ban eventually grew to encompass two dozen states — including Texas, Florida and Arizona — that exclude transgender girls from high school sports, limit access to transgender health care and allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples. Dropping the ban would be a major concession that California’s advocacy has been a futile counterweight in a political climate increasingly hostile to LGBTQ people.


Newsom quickly signed the bill on Sept. 13, a day after it landed on his desk. “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,” he said in a statement.