Republican-led states blast California travel ban based on their LGBTQ policies
West Virginia attorney general says California should not economically 'penalize' states with differing political views
Republican legal officials blasted California Attorney General Rob Bonta Tuesday, following his decision to add their states to the growing list of banned state-sponsored travel locations.
Bonta, a Democrat, announced on Monday that five states had been added to the list of 17 states where California-employee travel is forbidden due to laws targeting transgender athletes.
The list now includes Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia.
"States should not penalize other states because of policy differences," West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey said in a statement.
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"The economic coercion demonstrated by California is an affront to the dignity of other co-sovereign states and amounts to legislating across state borders in an effort to force the radical world view of large states onto those living elsewhere," Morrisey added.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined Morrisey in condemning the move, calling it "woke."
"Our state is on the forefront in the fight for American values & just as I have done for over 6 years as AG, I will always protect our traditional American & Arkansas values as Governor," Rutledge wrote on Twitter.
Bonta said the U.S. was experiencing an "unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination" following a series of state-led laws that targeted transgender women and girls in athletics.
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At least seven states have passed legislation banning transgender girls and women from competing in sporting events – all of which were signed by Republican governors.
More than two dozen states also introduced similar legislation this year.
In 2016, California lawmakers banned non-essential travel to red states with laws they believed discriminated against the LGBTQ community.
States like Idaho, Mississippi, and Alabama, which also passed anti-transgender laws this year, were already on California’s no-travel list.
Conservative states have argued that allowing transgender women and girls to compete against cisgender females – individuals who identify with the sex they were biologically born as – is an unfair physical advantage.
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Opponents of transgender participation in female sports argue it violates Title IX, which was passed under the 1972 Education Amendment and prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school.
"Federalism works best when individual states can pursue policies supported by their own constituents, and in West Virginia, our office will defend the state’s efforts to protect the integrity of women’s sports," Morrisey said Tuesday. "This legislation preserves fair competition. It is simply wrong for other states to exert financial pressure in such a manner."