California Travel Ban Provokes Scorn and Cancellations

California’s ban on state-funded travel to states with LGBTQ discriminating laws has set off a range of reactions in the eight affected states, including a full-blown political feud in one of them.

Tennessee’s state Senate passed a resolution mocking California and calling for the state to pass a reciprocal ban.

A website in Alabama speculated state-funded California collegiate sports teams might not be able to travel to recruit athletes in banned states or attend major sporting events such as the 2018–2019 NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game planned for Dallas.

In Kentucky, another of the banned states, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called the travel ban a “real threat to our growing tourism economy” after a hotel in the city announced it had lost two conventions as a result.

Cancelled in Louisville

At Omni Louisville Hotel, General Manager Scott Stuckey said the property received calls from both conventions withdrawing from negotiations due to the California ban, but did not identify them. “We have used discretion in discussing the issue and have not identified the conventions, in hopes that we could persuade them to do business with Omni and Louisville in the future,” he said in a statement.

Fischer posted a video on Twitter, adding that the ban had previously cost Kentucky $2 million in future revenue, because two Chicago-based companies had also dropped Louisville from consideration as a meeting site. “We’ve seen in other states, like North Carolina, when these travel bans go into effect, it does not get any better,” he said. “It just leads to more and more bad announcements.”

He urged state leaders to rework the language of the Kentucky law that spurred the California ban.

The Feud Rages

Reaction from Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, on the other hand, was quite different. He called the travel ban the “silliest thing” he’d ever heard, according to news reports. Similarly, some state lawmakers called Fisher’s claims exaggerated and argued that the unnamed conventions had never locked in Louisville as their choice.
“These were conferences prepared to sign contracts,” Fisher stated through a spokesperson. “And our city lost that business, plain and simple.”

The original California measure, which was put into effect as a law this past January, included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. On June 22, Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas were added. The ban puts restrictions on state-funded or state-sponsored travel to the listed states.