A California legislator filed a bill last week lifting the state's travel ban to 23 states, including Alabama, and creating a program to "encourage acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community."

The legislation filed by State Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) would create a "donation-driven fund that could be used to create inclusive messaging, discourage discrimination, and help members of the LGBTQ+ community feel less isolated. Called the BRIDGE Project – Building and Reinforcing Inclusive, Diverse, Gender-Supportive Equality – the legislation would help California champion compassion and help build bridges to unite and unify communities," according to a news release.

"Lifting the travel ban and putting a program in its place that would infuse inclusive, non-partisan messages in other states is a way that California can help build a bridge of inclusion and acceptance," Atkins said in a statement. "At a time when LGBTQ+ rights and protections are being rescinded, and the very words we use are being weaponized, putting understanding and kindness at the forefront is more important than ever. The goal here is to speak to people's hearts and open minds."

California's current law  – AB 1887 – restricts state agencies, departments, boards and commissions from using "taxpayer funds to travel to states that have adopted discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ laws." Currently, the law applies to 23 states, including Alabama

The bans on travel to each state were reactions by California state officials to a variety of socially conservative legislation passed by the states. 

California banned state travel to Alabama after state legislators and Gov. Kay Ivey passed legislation stating religious adoption agencies can't be forced to place children in homes that violate their religious beliefs. For example, under the law, religious adoption agencies can't be forced to place kids with homosexual parents.

Ivey said in 2017 that she was disappointed in the decision by California to ban state travel to Alabama and the Alabama adoption law had nothing to do with discrimination but "protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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