Arkansas seems likely to be called out officially soon for its efforts to legalize discrimination against LGBT people.
California now has a law that, according to Think Progress, prohibits state agencies and the state legislature from ever requiring any of its employees to ever travel to a state that discriminates against LGBT people. Likewise, the state won’t pay for any travel to such a state.
The terms of the law, which doesn’t name specific states, seems to apply to Arkansas.
Travel is forbidden to any state that has passed a law that explicitly discriminates against LGBT people, or that has passed a law voiding or repealing state or local protections for LGBT people. It requires the Attorney General to maintain a list of the states that would qualify.
Currently, the law would impact at least three states. The most obvious is North Carolina, because HB2 both voids local LGBT protections and mandates discrimination against transgender people when it comes to what facilities they can use. Also guaranteed to be on the list, however, would be Tennessee and Arkansas, two other states that have “preemption” laws prohibiting municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections beyond what’s available at the state level, thus voiding any city or county ordinances protecting sexual orientation and gender identity.
In addition to the state law that prohibits local protection for LGBT people, Gov. Asa Hutchinson also signed a bill intended to provide a religious pretext to discriminate against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodation. Most expect Arkansas to expand its anti-LGBT stance in the next legislative session, with a “bathroom bill” of some sort.
We can run but we can’t hide when industrial prospects ask if Arkansas is as bad as North Carolina or Tennessee,, the former particularly feeling the backlash from its discriminatory legislation.
California lawmakers seem happy to make a different statement.
Assemblymember Evan Low (D), the bill’s original sponsor, celebrated Brown’s signature this week and California’s reputation as “a leader in protecting civil rights and preventing discrimination.” In a statement, he remarked that “California has said clearly, our taxpayer dollars will not help fund bigotry and hatred. If other states try and pass similar laws, we will work to stop them. Our zero-tolerance policy says there is no room for discrimination of any kind in California, and AB 1887 ensures that discrimination will not be tolerated beyond our borders.”
Maybe Attorney General Leslie Rutledge can find some partners to go to court to attack the California law in a California court, as she has done in Washington state. Rutledge’s purported belief in federalism tends to fall apart when states pass laws she doesn’t like, such as the Washington civil rights law she’s fighting.
Here’s another idea: Let’s pass a bill that prohibits official travel to states that explicitly protect the rights of ALL citizens. The junket bill would be reduced, at least.