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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

The principles of federalism incorporated into the U.S. Constitution created a federal government of limited and enumerated powers, reserving the bulk of policymaking for the states. State governments are thus empowered to be laboratories of innovation for addressing the needs of their respective citizens while learning from the successes and failures of 49 other state governments. Likewise, citizens are empowered to “vote with their feet” and seek out places to live that reflect their values and policy preferences. If states are laboratories for public policy, then California Gov. Gavin Newsom is America’s Dr. Frankenstein.


Newsom recently signed SB 107 into law. This monstrosity of a bill empowers courts in California to make custody decisions about children who travel to California seeking gender transition treatment—even when the kids and their families live elsewhere. Caring parents can be stripped of their ability to make medical decisions in their child’s best interest—resulting in profit-driven gender clinics offering puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and even irreversible gender surgeries to children who have traveled to California from other states—and even from foreign countries— without the parents’ knowledge or consent. In fact, the law prohibits California doctors from disclosing to parents their child’s medical records related to gender identity even in the face of a warrant or subpoena from another state court.

The blatant disregard for the rights of parents to direct the upbringing, and the physical and mental well-being of their children—combined with the total contempt for the laws and sovereignty of every other state in the nation and every other country in the world—requires a level of arrogance comparable to Frankenstein himself, who thought he could ignore the laws of nature by reanimating the dead.

Nullifying the custody laws of every other state is a clear violation of the Constitution’s full faith and credit clause, to say nothing of “the laws of nature and nature’s God” that have long recognized that parents—not governments—have the right and duty to raise and train children. Other states such as Arkansas and Alabama have banned these damaging procedures. They have opted instead to encourage a standard of care which assists young people through counseling, whether they suffer from gender dysphoria or the social contagion of gender confusion. These states affirm that over time, young people are best helped through counseling that embraces their biological sex and enables them to live comfortably in their bodies and identities as bearers of the Imago Dei.


Citizens who have voted with their feet and moved to places like Arkansas and Alabama deserve to have their vote respected. Instead, California seeks to impose its policies on the rest of the nation. If California succeeds in taking custody of children to inflict irreversible, life-altering harm on their bodies, it is not a stretch to predict the same principle might be used to take custody of pregnant teens to end the life of another child through abortion. In a post-Roe America, where much of the country is choosing to protect unborn life, this danger is a real threat to parental rights and state comity.

In recent years, thousands of families and businesses have fled California. Conservatives have looked at this trend as a rebuke of Newsom’s policies with considerable schadenfreude. Some have worried that California’s exiles would bring the political agenda with them to their new home states. What many people may not have considered is the residual effect on California. If reasonable people fleeing bad policy means the only people left behind are those who support those bad policies, the lack of remaining opposition empowers the radical agenda to advance. Now the agenda is advancing beyond the borders of California. The exiles were the least of our worries.

California must be stopped. The first time a child from another state is taken away from his parents via SB 107, those parents must take legal action and their state must immediately act to preserve the full faith and credit of its own laws. Thankfully, a dispute between states falls under the original jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court. The court would be well within its power and responsibility to protect the principles of federalism and maybe even inject some sanity back into California before the rest of the country is subjected to another experiment gone horribly wrong.


Lathan Watts is vice president of public affairs at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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