Golden Gate City Reopens to Red States
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted (7-4) on Tuesday to repeal a 2016 law forbidding city-funded travel to and requiring city agencies to boycott businesses in states with laws that protect unborn life, women, children, and religious liberty. “It’s not achieving the goal we want to achieve,” admitted Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.
Often labelled “12X” for short because it forms Chapter 12X of the city’s administrative code, the 2016 law on “prohibiting city travel and contracting in states that allow discrimination” applies to any state that:
“(a) voids or repeals existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression, or
(b) authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or that authorizes or requires discrimination on the basis of [Sexual] Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression, including any law that creates an exemption to antidiscrimination laws in order to permit discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression.”
As examples of laws that fall into this category, 12X cited a 2016 bathroom bill in North Carolina and a 2016 religious freedom bill in Mississippi.
It also applies to any state that “has enacted a law that prohibits abortion prior to the Viability of the fetus, regardless of whether there are exceptions to such prohibition. Examples of such restrictive laws include a law prohibiting abortion after fetal pole cardiac activity can be detected but before viability (so-called “fetal heartbeat” laws), and a law that prohibits abortion a set number of weeks after fertilization but before Viability.”
Originally applied to eight states, by the time it was repealed San Francisco’s boycott encompassed 30 states, over half the nation. City Administrator Carmen Chu’s office reported in February that only one state had been removed from the list, and no states had changed their laws based upon San Francisco’s boycott.
Implementing the boycott cost the city nearly $475,000 in staffing expenses, according to the Budget and Legislative Analyst for the Board of Supervisors. Despite the added staffing expense, the analyst added that city departments granted 538 waivers worth $791 million between mid-2021 and mid-2022. The analyst estimated, based on past research, that ending the boycott and returning to a competitive process could save up to 20% on city contracts.
“What bothers me about 12X is that it’s really easy to symbolically act as if we’re doing something to move the needle. But in actuality, not only have we not moved that needle, things are getting worse,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whom The San Francisco Standard called “one of the most progressive members of the board.”
Since 2016, state legislatures across the nation have enacted laws protecting religious freedom, preserving all-female spaces and sports, regulating education, and guarding children from the transgender ideology. They also acted to protect the lives of unborn babies and support their mothers, a movement which gained steam after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned power over abortion policy to the people’s elected representatives.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors — officially nonpartisan but unanimously Democratic — have striven for seven years against the conservative momentum in state legislatures, but have now decided to give up the effort as too expensive.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.