California banned official travel to Oklahoma, so the Sooner State did the same
Posted January 24, 2020 10:26 a.m. EST
CNN — In a tit-for-tat feud between states, a 2018 move by California to ban some official travel to Oklahoma over what officials there say are discriminatory LGBTQ policies has led the Sooner State's Republican governor to issue a similar ban against the Golden State.
Oklahoma's Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, issued an executive order Thursday that prohibits state employees from "all non-essential travel" to California, with exceptions for Department of Commerce employees traveling for business recruiting. He was responding to California's ban two years ago of state-funded and state-sponsored travel, with exceptions, to Oklahoma after the state passed a law that critics said allows adoption and foster agencies to deny children be placed with same-sex parents based on religious or moral grounds.
"California and its elected officials over the past few years have banned travel to the State of Oklahoma in an effort to politically threaten and intimidate Oklahomans for their personal values. Enough is enough," Stitt said in a statement.
"If California's elected officials don't want public employees traveling to Oklahoma, I am eager to return the gesture on behalf of Oklahoma's pro-life stance," Stitt added.
State college athletes and their teams will still be allowed to travel for scheduled games. Also exempt from the ban are school groups, including bands and sports teams, traveling to participate in programs or events in California.
During a news conference Thursday at the state Capitol, Stitt told reporters that "if a state is going to ban travel here, I'm going to reciprocate that, and I'm not going to spend our tax dollars going to conferences and spending money in their state, as well," CNN affiliate KOCO reported.
Oklahoma House Democratic leaders Reps. Emily Virgin and Cyndi Munson said Stitt's ban was nothing more than an effort to divert attention away from in-state issues such as health care, education and a feud over Native American tribes' casino operations.
"To those that believe that this isn't simply an attempt at distraction, why would the governor exempt travel for sporting events and business recruitment? And with those exemptions in place, who does this ban actually affect?" they said in a statement.
California has taken similar actions against other states, banning official state travel in 2017 to 10 other states for laws it says discriminate against LGBTQ people.
And the city of San Francisco in October limited city-funded travel and contracting with 22 states, including Oklahoma, for what it called "severe anti-choice policies."