California Ends Government Red State Travel Ban

The state of California announced this week that it was ending its policy banning official travel to several mainly Republican-led states. The decision contradicts the state’s almost decade-long precedent and ends without significant changes in Republicans’ policies.

The state had barred government travel to a number of states starting in 2016 based on what the state described as discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the BRIDGE Project into law, ending the state’s travel ban to the offending states.

The Golden State had been barring official travel to 26 states, including banning elected and educational officials from traveling to the locations.

The new legislation also declared that California would attempt to lobby against a number of policies in other states. This includes educational reform acts such as the one signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and against states that limit access to gender changes for minors.

The Bridge Project, which stands for Building and Reinforcing Inclusive, Diverse, Gender-Supportive Equality, was introduced by state Sen. Toni Atkins (D).

Atkiins’ office said that the plan to overturn the travel ban would “create in its place a program to encourage acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Her office said that the bill would “create a fund that could be used to create non-partisan, inclusive messaging, discourage discrimination, and help members of the LGBTQ+ community feel less isolated,” and would allow the state to “champion compassion and help build bridges to unite and unify communities.”

The state senator wrote that 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”

California justified its travel ban following a number of bills regarding bathroom access for transgender individuals. Originally, California targeted North Carolina, adding more states that Sacramento deemed as LGBT unfriendly.

Atkins has been the primary sponsor of the original bill.