A bill to end California’s travel ban to 26 “anti-LGBT law” was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after it had been approved by the Assembly.
Senate Bill 447, authored by Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), will end California’s ant-LGBT law travel ban to 26 states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. However, rather than just end the ban, the bill will instead replace it with the Building and Reinforcing Inclusive, Diverse, Gender-Supportive Equity Project (BRIDGE Project) to “promote social equity, civil rights, and antidiscrimination through marketing and advertising campaigns.”
SB 447 will also authorize the office to contract with a private, nonprofit agency and to use the services of volunteer advertising agencies and donated media to conduct marketing activities. Any media campaign under BRIDGE would either be on a national scale, or on the state scale and specifically target states that have enacted a law that voids or repeals, or has the effect of voiding or repealing, an existing state or local protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or have enacted a law that authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
With Atkins’ new “hearts and minds” policy proposal now at the forefront this year, SB 447 quickly became a polarizing bill, with Democrat and GOP lawmakers being split straight down party lines on the bill. In May, SB 447 passed the Senate 31-8 with 1 abstention, with the Assembly vote on Tuesday coming in with 64-12 with 4 abstentions.
Governor Gavin Newsom had been expected to take his time in deciding on the bill, with many experts saying that it would likely be until October before Newsom made a decision. However, to the surprise of many, Newsom signed the bill almost immediately, making SB 447 law on Wednesday in a signing ceremony.
“In the face of a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, this measure helps California’s message of acceptance, equality and hope reach the places where it is most needed,” said Governor Newsom at the signing in Sacramento. “I thank Pro Tem Atkins for authoring this important measure that enables California to continue taking a stand for the rights of LGBTQ+ people throughout the country and combating intolerance and hate with empathy and allyship.”
Senator Atkins noted the quickness of the bill turnaround and added, “Today, we are sending a message to the rest of the nation – here in California, we embrace one another, not in spite of our differences, but because of them. And we are ready to reach across the aisle, and across state lines, to help open hearts and minds, and support our LGBTQ+ youth and communities who are feeling so alone. There’s so much hate, so much hurt, so much harm being inflicted on people who are just trying to live their authentic lives. The BRIDGE Project is a chance to counter that with kindness and empathy, and I’m grateful to Governor Newsom for swiftly signing this bill into law, and to my colleagues in both parties who voted for it. We will be the bridge to a more understanding and compassionate nation.”
Despite Newsom signing SB 447 into law on Wednesday, many experts remained skeptical that the BRIDGE Project would even work, and that economic measures would work far better than any media outreach.
“Well that was fast,” said Chelsea Gardner-Baum, an LA-based interstate media consultant. “Newsom signing the bill that fast was more of a message than anything else. So the travel ban is over, but now we have a very tone deaf public awareness project. Everyone, Republicans included, wanted the travel ban to end. But you don’t change minds with awareness projects. People are very much aware, and California’s previous projects like these were nothing but late night fodder.”
“Everyone I’ve talked to has said that you need to get Florida businesses and Georgia businesses and places from the other states to move to California or take their business. Look at how much the Disney changeup hurt Florida.
“Yes, SB 447 is law now, but we are likely not going to see any change as a result.”
SB 447 went into effect following the signing on Wednesday.
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