Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Friday that California will prohibit state-funded and state-sponsored travel to Oklahoma for state employees, following legislation passed there in May that allows private adoption agencies to refuse to serve LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs.
“California law requires that my office identify and maintain a list of states which are off-limits for state-funded or state-sponsored travel,” Becerra said in a press release. “California will not use state resources to support states that pass discriminatory laws. The law enacted in Oklahoma allows discrimination against LGBTQ children and aspiring LGBTQ parents who must navigate the adoption process. California taxpayers are taking a stand against bigotry and in support of those who would be harmed by this prejudiced policy.”
California passed Assembly Bill 1887 in 2017, which prohibits state employees from traveling to states that pass a law that "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; authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; or creates an exemption to antidiscrimination 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."
"It was imperative that we demonstrated the importance of our California values, which was to be a place of inclusion, not exclusion," said South Bay Assemblyman and AB 1887 author Evan Low Friday during a press conference.
Cathy Sakimura, family law director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, applauded Becerra for "ensuring that California taxpayer dollars are used to support our state’s values of inclusion and equality.”
"Oklahoma’s law allows adoption agencies to deny children safe and stable homes merely because their adoptive parents are LGBT, denying our families equal dignity and harming children,” Sakimura said in a press release.
Becerra targeted Oklahoma specifically for passing Senate Bill 1140, which Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law on May 11, 2018. SB 1140 allows child-placement services to refuse to put children up for adoption or foster care when that "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies."
After Fallin signed SB 1140 into law on May 11, CNN reported that Fallin, a Republican, said neither adoption nor foster care by LGBT individuals or same-sex couples is banned:
"Instead, the bill will help continue Oklahoma's successful placement of children with a broad array of loving families and basically maintain the status quo by setting forth in statute practices which have successfully worked for the best interest of Oklahoma children," Fallin said in a statement.
KOCO 5 News reported Friday on Fallin's response to the travel ban:
"Oklahoma has not banned adoptions to gays and others. Couples whose views differ from faith-based adoption agencies can go to a number of agencies willing to serve everyone who meets the Oklahoma Department of Human Services criteria for being a foster or adoptive person."
"There appears to be more and more Californians sharing our values as we are seeing more Californians move to Oklahoma. With our state’s economy being as strong as it is, we won’t miss a few Californians traveling on state business showing up in our state."
Oklahoma becomes the ninth state subjected to AB 1887's travel prohibition. The others are Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
California's travel prohibition "applies to state agencies, departments, boards, authorities, and commissions, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, and the California State University."
KQED's Peter Jon Shuler contributed to this report.