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Texas Fires Shot Across California’s Bow, Asks SCOTUS To Strike Down Law Banning Travel
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton testifies in front of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, just a few days before a grand jury indicts him on three felonies
Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is targeting the state of California, asking the Supreme Court to strike down a law signed by then-California Governor Jerry Brown in 2016 that barred state-funded travel to states with so-called “discriminatory” laws.

The California law, AB 1887, stated:

This bill would prohibit a state agency and the Legislature from requiring any of its employees, officers or members to travel to, or approving a request for state-funded or state-sponsored travel to, any state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that voids or repeals, or has the effect of voiding or repealing, existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression or has enacted a law that authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, as specified, subject to certain exceptions. The bill would require the Attorney General to develop, maintain, and post on his or her Internet Web site a current list of states that, after June 26, 2015, have enacted such a law.

In June 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose office maintains a list of qualifying discriminatory laws, banned state-funded travel to California, saying that Texas’ House Bill 3859 “allows foster care agencies to discriminate against children in foster care and potentially disqualify LGBT families from the state’s foster and adoption system.” Becerra pontificated, “While the California DOJ works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back. That’s why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s spokesman John Wittman fired back, “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.”

On Monday, Paxton fired a shot of his own at California, asserting, “California is attempting to punish Texans for respecting the right of conscience for foster care and adoption providers,”

The Texas law stated:

A governmental entity or any person that contracts with this state or operates under governmental authority to refer or place children for child welfare services may not discriminate or take any adverse action against a child welfare services provider on the basis, wholly or partly, that the provider:

  1. Has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate or refer a person for child welfare services that conflict with, or under circumstances that conflict with, the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs:
  2. Provides or intends to provide children under the control, care, guardianship, or direction of the provider with a religious education, including through placing the children in a private or parochial school or otherwise providing a religious education in accordance with the laws of this state;
  3. Has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate or refer a person for abortions, contraceptives, or drugs, devices or services that are potentially abortion-inducing; or
  4. Refuses to enter into a contract that is inconsistent with or would in any way interfere with or force a provider to surrender the rights created by this chapter.

As the Texas Tribune noted, California has banned travel to 11 states. One of them, Oklahoma, retaliated last month with its own ban on state-funded travel to California.

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