Why California Added Oklahoma to Its Travel Ban
By Steve Rubenstein
California-funded travel to Oklahoma has been banned, starting June 22, because of a new Oklahoma law that allows adoption agencies to deny placement services to same-sex parents, state officials announced Friday.
"California taxpayers are taking a stand against bigotry," Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in announcing the travel ban. "California will not use state resources to support states that pass discriminatory laws."
A California law passed last year prohibits state-sponsored travel to states with laws that allow discrimination based on sexual or gender orientation. Seven other states are already on the ban list: Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.
"Our taxpayer dollars do not fund bigotry," Becerra said. "No exceptions."
In Oklahoma City, an official with the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau said she is unaware of any cancellations in visitor bookings because of the dispute, but that it could be too soon to tell.
"I've not seen an effect," said Sandy Price, vice president of tourism sales. "I'd hate for there to be a downturn because of this."
Cynthia Reid, vice president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, said her chamber and its members had fought against the adoption law.
"We opposed the legislation, as we oppose all discriminatory legislation," she said. "One of the reasons we opposed it is for this reason (the California ban) right here."
The California ban could have a "marginal impact on any (Oklahoma) conference involving California state employees," she said, adding that the chamber "hasn't done a full assessment."
Chamber President Roy Williams said his group had asked the governor not to sign the bill, without success, and that he was hopeful the courts would overturn it.
Last month, Oklahoma's governor signed the fiercely debated bill, opposed by gay rights groups and many businesses, that also allows private agencies to refuse to place LGBT foster children in homes.
"Every child deserves a loving, supportive family, and it's neither pro-child, nor pro-family, for Oklahoma to deny them one," said Rick Zbur, the executive director of Equality California, a gay civil rights organization based in Los Angeles. "California taxpayers won't subsidize Oklahoma's -- or any state's -- discriminatory policies."
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