California Attorney General Xavier Becerra recently made the announcement that they are adding Iowa to their rapidly growing list of states on their “travel ban” simply because Iowa won’t force taxpayers to fund gender transition surgeries.
As of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.
“California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it,” Becerra said when announcing the Iowa ban.
Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. Iowa joins Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas on California’s banned list.
From the website of the California Office of the Attorney General:
“In AB 1887, the California Legislature determined that “California must take action to avoid supporting or financing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.” (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (a)(5).) To that end, AB 1887 prohibits a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that (1) 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; (2) authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; or (3) creates an exemption to anti-discrimination laws in order to permit discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subds. (b)(1), (2).) In addition, the law prohibits California from approving a request for state-funded or state-sponsored travel to such a state.”
The law does allow some exceptions to the ban, including if it is required travel related to contracts signed before Jan. 1, 2017 or for the protection of public health, welfare or safety.
Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.
“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement.
The battle began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.
“This narrow provision simply clarifies that Iowa’s Civil Rights Act does not require taxpayer dollars to pay for sex reassignment and other similar surgeries,” Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett said in a statement at the time. “This returns us to what had been the state’s position for years.”
At the federal level, the Trump administration has rolled back the Obama-era determination that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under existing law include protections for gender identity.
The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Roger Severino, who heads the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “We intend to fully enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination.”
Asked about the charge that the administration has opened the door to discrimination against transgender people seeking needed medical care of any type, Severino responded, “I don’t want to see that happen.”