Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday extended California’s ban on taxpayer-funded trips to an 11th state, adding Iowa to the list based on the Midwestern state’s passage of a law that removed gender protections under Medicaid.
Becerra’s order means public employees and college students may not travel to Iowa under provisions of a 2016 California law.
Twelve years ago, Iowa’s Legislature made gender identity a protected characteristic under its Civil Rights Act, which prohibited refusing service to or discriminating against people based on their gender identity preferences.
In March 2019, the state’s Supreme Court ruled the protection extended to gender transition surgeries under the state’s Medicaid program. Two months later, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill banning Medicaid spending on the surgeries.
“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming healthcare,” Becerra said in a news release. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.
California’s 2016 law prohibits state-funded and state-sponsored travel to states that void or repeal protections against discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, according to the release.
The Iowa ban goes into effect Oct. 4.
California has protected gender-affirming treatment since 1978, according to Becerra’s release.
The California travel law, Assembly Bill 1887, was crafted as a response to so-called religious freedom laws. Its supporters say it withholds California taxpayer money from certain states, and keeps public employees out of situations where they might feel uncomfortable. There are exemptions for law enforcement and tax collection.
The law also forbids public colleges from participating in events on the no-travel list, although athletic programs have continued to attend games they’ve scheduled and other post-season events in states subject to the ban.
Other states on the banned travel list include Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Mississippi and Kentucky.