The US Supreme Court has thrown out a Texas lawsuit over California’s ban on state-funded business trips to states that discriminate against LGBT+ people.
California adopted the ban in 2017 after Texas allowed state-funded foster care and adoption agencies to deny services to LGBT+ parents due to religious beliefs.
“Discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back,” said then-California attorney general Xavier Becerra as it was introduced. “That’s why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.”
At the time, Texas’ Republican governor joked that Californian businesses would “flee over taxation and regulation” and move to Texas – but that’s not quite how it panned out.
“California is attempting to punish Texans for respecting the right of conscience for foster care and adoption providers,” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said as he filed the lawsuit in February last year.
He claimed California was discriminating against Texas by not paying for state employees to travel there, and that the law represented an unconstitutional effort “to punish Texans for respecting the right of conscience for foster care and adoption providers.”
“Nothing requires California to fund interstate travel,” he argued. “But when California chooses to do so, it must not invidiously discriminate against other States and those States’ citizens and businesses.”
Paxton attempted to take his fight to the Supreme Court, but the judges shot him down.
In a 7-2 decision on Monday (26 April) judges refused to consider Paxton’s challenge and tossed it out of court, giving no reason for the denial.
It will be heavy blow as the Texas legislature pushes forward with a slate of anti-LGBT+ bills, which business leaders warn could be harmful for the economy amid a recession.
In response to the court’s decision, Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez accused Paxton of hypocrisy for caring about religious liberty when it applies to LGBT+ issues, while happily supporting Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
“His religious liberty excuses are a false argument to continue his clear and ongoing war on LGBTQ Texans, as evidenced by the dozens of actions he has taken against our community while in office,” he said.
“The only result of the foster care bill that passed in 2017 is that it allows organisations to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans and it continues to hurt children who sleep in office buildings and die in the state’s care because there are not enough foster parents when a child could otherwise be adopted by loving LGBTQ parents.”