DALLAS — Phillip Jones, whose job it is to court visitors to this city, spent months warning anyone who would listen: Economic pain will follow if Texas lawmakers pass laws seen as hostile to gay and transgender people.

But after Texas approved a law that critics said might keep people, on the basis of sexual orientation, from adopting children or serving as foster parents, even Mr. Jones was surprised at part of the fallout: a ban by California on taxpayer-funded travel to Texas.

“Never in a million years,” Mr. Jones, the chief executive of VisitDallas, said, weeks after California broadened its travel restrictions to include eight states. “It was not even a factor in any of our discussions that California would ban travel to Texas.”

For a handful of liberal states, bans on government travel have become political pressure points during the country’s debate about gay and transgender rights. Beyond California, officials from New York to Minnesota to Washington State have pursued the bans in response to laws in states that they contend open the door to discrimination.

Some of the banned states are pushing back. The Tennessee General Assembly easily passed a resolution to complain about the imposition of “unfounded moral judgment,” and it noted what lawmakers described as California’s “exorbitant taxes, spiraling budget deficits, runaway social welfare programs and rampant illegal immigration.”

Even though the economic tolls of restrictions that bar nonessential travel at taxpayer expense are unclear — and may not be fully realized for years — the bans have already helped both Democratic and Republican elected officials grandstand, galvanize supporters and reinforce the regional fault lines of American politics.

“Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California, whose state has most aggressively pursued the travel restrictions and has limited trips to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

“Sadly, that is not the case in all parts of our nation, even in the 21st century,” Mr. Becerra said in a statement.

On the other hand, a spokesman for Kentucky’s governor, Matt Bevin, a Republican, denounced “West Coast liberals” and “far-left ideology.” South Dakota’s governor, Dennis Daugaard, sniped that such bans are “political statements that have no discernible effect” and are “designed to generate publicity.”

Proponents of the restrictions concede part of Mr. Daugaard’s argument: They say that publicity is precisely the point of the bans, which cover nonessential travel and do not block the personal activities of state workers.

“Is this more symbolic than actually an economic driving force? Most certainly so,” said Evan Low, a California assemblyman and the sponsor of a measure, approved last year with some Republican support, that provided for his state’s travel restrictions. “But it allows the conversation to continue to occur to say, ‘Wow, these states really don’t value the basic, fundamental rights of all of its citizens?’”

Despite Mr. Low’s forecast, it appears that the travel restrictions are having some effect. Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Ky., said recently that two conventions had cited California’s restrictions when they abandoned their expected plans to visit the city.

Texas has more on the line than most places. Some 10 percent of the nation’s trade shows are held in the state, and its three largest cities — Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — are popular meeting sites. But Mr. Jones fears that California’s ban, and any others that might follow it, will force Texas to surrender some visitors and revenue to cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas or New Orleans.

About two dozen groups have already suggested that they might pass over Dallas, Mr. Jones said, especially if lawmakers, who began a special session on Tuesday, approve a measure restricting restroom access for transgender people. Groups with large numbers of public employees are warning that it will be hard to justify holding meetings here when representatives of the country’s most populous state might be excluded.

“We’re very, very fearful of what the long-term consequences are,” Mr. Jones said.

Some groups are, reluctantly, keeping their plans to meet in Dallas, including the National Communication Association, which considered moving its November convention. The group decided to stay, its president, Stephen J. Hartnett, said, for logistical reasons and because it was in the organization’s “ethical best interest to stay in Dallas and engage with Dallas and be on the ground so we could participate in those debates.”

But he cautioned that the committee that selects convention sites could bypass Texas in the future.

“They’re going to be looking at travel bans like the one California put in place,” said Mr. Hartnett, a professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, who noted that 8 percent of last year’s convention participants came from California.

For now, the bans have provoked a swirl of commentary and jabs on social media that could well pay political dividends for figures on both sides, campaign consultants said.

“If anything, what it does provide is a great opportunity for political types in Alabama to have new fodder for a new commercial,” said Angi Stalnaker, a Republican strategist in Alabama. “I think you’ll see words like ‘Hollywood liberal.’”

Although episodes of interstate political jousting are nothing new, the proliferation of travel bans among states seems to have little history behind it. The National Conference of State Legislatures said it knew of no similar, longstanding approach by states mired in policy disagreements with other states.

Still, supporters say the bans are roughly similar to the familiar idea of weaving nondiscrimination requirements and other mandates that reflect a government’s goals into contracts.

The moves by California and other like-minded governments have so far done little to discourage some states from advancing, or retreating from, legislation that critics call bigoted. Rather, lawmakers in states so far cited by California have typically responded with shrugs, proposals of payback and digs they did not even try to disguise.

“I think it’s nonsense,” said State Representative Dustin Burrows of Texas, where lawmakers could consider a reciprocal ban. “I think California should be free to determine its own culture, and Texas doesn’t try to influence it. This seems to be something new and different where California wants to determine our culture and our laws, and we’re not going to have it.”

Some critics of the bans, including State Senator Albert Robinson of Kentucky, said they believed California officials had misunderstood the state laws that drew rebukes.

“I have never seen it as bad or as sad as it is now that people are losing respect for God and regard for man,” said Mr. Robinson, the author of the legislation that drew California’s ire. “When one state would try to punish another one, I think it speaks for itself. I find it hard to believe that everybody in California believes in what this person has done.”

The restrictions include loopholes that can keep money flowing. New York’s ban on North Carolina, for instance, exempts travel that is “necessary for the enforcement of New York State law, to meet prior contractual obligations, or for the protection of public health, welfare and safety.”

But the restrictions can derail, or at least complicate, plans for intercollegiate sporting events or athletic recruiting. Last year, the University at Albany, a branch of the State University of New York, did not play a game at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo restricted travel. And the N.C.A.A. has long used some of the restricted states as sites for major events; the Final Four for men’s basketball is to be played in San Antonio next year.

The California attorney general’s office is still considering whether the state’s restrictions apply to athletic team staffs at public universities, but some in the college sports-obsessed South have already wondered and joked, maybe, about the possible consequences for California.

“I hope there’s some California team that has an amazing year, which for them means being bowl-eligible, and ends up getting the Birmingham Bowl and they can’t go,” Ms. Stalnaker said.