The act of California state officials blocking “non-essential” state travel (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/23/california-bans-state-travel-to-texas-3-other-states-over-anti-lgbt-laws.html) is likely nothing but a stunt for attention. After all, most laws, including this one, provide much in the way of exceptions and reasons that will provide ways around such “bans”…including the honoring of those deals that were enacted beforehand. Still, such an action by California public officials isn’t an anomaly. States like New York and Connecticut have done similar stunts when involving state-funded travel to states like North Carolina when it was embroiled in controversy over it’s “bathroom bill”. Are such initiatives constitutional?
Many editorials on the subject, even by those aligned conservatively, do mention that such restrictions don’t violate the Constitution in their view, but do not necessarily explain why. Looking at the letter would potentially suggest that they are. The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution specifically holds that each state must respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state”. Such public acts include the laws that such states enact. It doesn’t mean that public officials of another state must agree with what others do, just that they respect them. Somehow, I don’t think respect would include putting restrictions in public travel to them. Only Congress has the power to define what how that faith and credit shall be levied. The Commerce Clause holds that only Congress has the power to regulate commerce among the states, which involves the interchange of goods and commodities. As restricting state-funded travel to other states, which involves universities and economic centers, impeded on that regulatory power, such an initiative would appear to violate that standard as well.
By punishing some states over others as a result of disagreements concerning laws, as well as restricting the ability of interstate commerce taking place to those states over others, California has placed itself in the stead of Congress in the decision of how credit and commerce are to be decided. That is a fundamental violation of what our constitutional republic is based on. Private actors such as Bruce Springsteen or the NBA are free to decide whether they want to go through with an event or not in a state whose policies they disagree with, but that doesn’t extend to state officials. Our nation was never intended to have complete uniformity among the states, as a significant perspective involved in the crafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was the concept of federalism. If any such laws violate those federal documents, they will be struck down. However, that is the job of the federal courts, not California.
Also, even on the face of the actual initiatives, it isn’t clear how such a thing will actually aid in achieving more tolerance for LGBT individuals. Besides the aforementioned point that many exceptions and reasons allow many to get around such restrictions, such policy merely provides an antagonist out for those states that California has targeted. Look at related subjects like the Cuban embargo for how such economic restrictions just provide a way by which those being targeted can blame such policy for any hardship that occurs. Some like Tennessee have already done so by responding as such (http://dailycaller.com/2017/06/26/tennessee-issues-hilarious-response-to-california-travel-ban/). Therefore, such an initiative seems more likely to have a better chance of harming the cause than otherwise.
An unfortunate ruling out of the Lone Star State where the Texas Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples aren’t necessarily entitled to marriage benefits, re-opening the case at a lower court to decide the matter. Such a ruling appears to ignore Obegefell’s ruling two years ago, that explicitly stated that same-sex couples cannot be denied “the constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage.” As public employees, policies such as spousal benefits are subject to the Constitution just as any other. The 14th Amendment upholds the equal protection of the laws, and that applies to same-sex couples just as otherwise. As long as the state of Texas considers marriage as a special class or legal status, they must treat them equally unless there is a justified reason for doing so. So far, that seems to be missing here. Will see how the rest of the case goes – http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-supreme-court-inherent-right-gay-marriage-benefits/YhIJSUN9u9Uy2d8n0exU2I/