California is restricting state-funded travel to Montana and several other states in reaction to laws passed during the last legislative session that it views as anti-LGBTQ, the state’s attorney general announced Monday.
“The states are a part of a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory new bills signed into law in states across the country that directly work to ban transgender youth from playing sports, block access to life-saving care, or otherwise limit the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a Monday press release. The ban will go into place on July 1, following the effective date of the two laws, according to the release.
The office of Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte did not immediately return a request for comment on the ban.
Montana’s inclusion in the ban resulted from its passage of House Bill 112 and Senate Bill 215, Bonta said in the release. Respectively, the bills ban transgender women from participating in K-16 athletics and establish the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which holds that a state can’t “substantially burden” a person’s right to exercise religion without a compelling and narrowly tailored governmental interest.
But Bonta and other critics of the bill and similar legislation argue it would open a door to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the guise of religious freedom.
“[SB215] threatens to, among other effects, allow businesses to refuse a broad range of services to same-sex couples because of their sexual orientation alone,” Bonta said in the release.
Supporters of SB215 have said it bolsters Montanans’ ability to live in accordance with their religion and have denied claims it would lead to discrimination.
“I don’t believe that this bill would allow that discrimination to happen,” the bill’s sponsor Carl Glimm, R-Kila said in a February committee meeting on the bill. “This bill is not a blanket license to discriminate.”
Sen. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, an outspoken opponent of HB112 and SB215, said on Monday the news out of California tracks with warnings of economic fallout from critics of the two bills and other social-issue legislation that the GOP pushed this session.
“By legalizing discrimination and hate in our state, we are already losing people our small businesses count on to travel and do business in Montana. This will only get worse until we make our state one where everyone is equal under the law,” he said in a text message.
Along with Montana, California added four other states — Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and West Virginia — to its list of 17 states in which state-funded travel is restricted.
The ban comes from a law — Assembly Bill 1887 — passed in 2016 requiring California to prohibit taxpayer-funded travel to states that…
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Original article posted by Keith Schubert at Newsbreak. Title altered by Montana Daily Gazette.