BLOG

The EQCA 100

September 8, 2014 By Josh Steichmann

100Legislation2

The EQCA 100

California stands today as a leader in legal rights and protections for the LGBT community, but just ten or so years ago, the landscape was very different. Equality California embarked on a legislative strategy to build a state of equality in 2003, and has been an instrumental instigator and collaborator in the efforts to promote equality for all LGBT Californians.

The closing of this 2014 legislative term marks not only another successful year for EQCA’s sponsored legislation, but also a significant milestone. With the conclusion of the final vote on AB 2501, Equality California is proud to celebrate the passing of its 100th sponsored piece of legislation.

The EQCA 100 touch on almost every aspect of social and civil life, and reach out to aid and defend every member of the LGBT community. From the early work for basic nondiscrimination protection and domestic partnerships, to today’s efforts to make government forms reflect Californian’s authentic selves, the last 11 years have seen unprecedented progress and success. The burdens society places on the LGBT community, intentionally or not, are varied and harmful. The reach of these burdens, and the evidence for the work still to be done, can be witnessed in the sheer breadth of areas in which EQCA has sponsored legislation. Property tax, healthcare, prisoner safety, veteran benefits, cultural competency training, adoption, and marriage represent just a few of the areas improved by EQCA’s successful sponsored legislation has improved.

While we have not yet achieved full and lasting equality, thanks to progressive legislative allies and the work of EQCA, we’re 100 102 bills closer.

2014

End the Panic Defense | AB 2501 (Bonilla)

Eliminates the so-called “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses, outrageous tactics used by defendants who claim their violent acts were triggered by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Modernize Birth Certificates | AB 1951 (Gomez)

Modernizes California birth certificates by allowing parents to choose to self-designate as “father,” “mother” or “parent,” eliminating inaccurate designations and confusion for same-sex parents.

Clean Up Marriage Language | SB 1306 (Leno)

Removes references to “husband” and “wife” in California code and replace them with gender-neutral language such as “spouse” to recognize all married couples throughout California.

LGBT Cultural Competency for Health Care Providers | AB 496 (Gordon)

Clarifies that existing cultural competency training for health care providers should include discussion of LGBT issues.

Ending discrimination in blood donor procedures| AJR 50 (Bloom)

Urges the President to be an agent of change so that FDA blood donation eligibility policies will be based on modern scientific research and findings rather than archaic assumptions and fears.

2013

School Success and Opportunity Act | AB 1266 (Ammiano)

AB 1266 addresses the exclusion of transgender students from school programs and activities and provides guidance to schools so they can make sure that transgender students, like all students, have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.

LGBT Health Insurance Parity | AB 362 (Ting)

Provides tax relief for employees who receive reimbursement from their employer for federal taxes they paid on healthcare benefits provided to their same-sex partner and dependents.

Transgender Name Changes, Birth and Death Certificates | AB 1121 (Atkins)

Simplifies the process required for a name change to reflect a person’s gender identity, as well as ensuring that a person’s identity documents reflect his or her gender identity accurately.

LGBT Cultural Competency Training for Administrators in Senior Care Facilities | AB 663 (Gomez)

Ensures that administrators of residential care facilities have an additional training in cultural competency and sensitivity in aging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Collection | AB 1208 (Pan)

Ensures that the LGBT community is counted in California through health insurance eligibility application forms, which is an important step toward reducing the disparities the LGBT community faces in access to and quality of health services.

Supporting Veterans Resolution | AJR 19 (Pan)

Urges the federal government to reinstate veteran benefits lost due to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell discharges.

Nondiscrimination in Pension Investment Resolution | SR 18 (Leno)

Urges CalPERS and CalSTRS not to invest future resources from their pension plans in Russia due to its discriminatory policies against the LGBT community.

2012

Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse | SB 1172 (Lieu)

SB 1172 ends the damaging practice of sexual orientation “conversion therapy” on minors while declaring vehemently that being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is in no way an illness or personal shortcoming.

Providing Safe, Supportive Homes for LGBT Youth | AB 1856 (Amminano)

AB 1856 will help to provide comfort, safety and support to LGBT foster youth by creating LGBT cultural competency standards that foster homes housing LGBT youth must meet.

Supporting LGBT Veterans and Military Families | AB 1505 (Pan)

AB 1505 guarantees that all California service members who were discharged from the military for no reason other than their sexual orientation are eligible for all state benefits for veterans and their families such as home loans, college tuition fee waivers and preference for civil service examinations.

Keeping LGBT People in Their Homes | AB 1700 (Butler)

AB 1700 ensures that no LGBT person is put at risk of losing the home, due to debilitating taxes, that he or she has built over a lifetime with a loved one simply because their partner was of the same sex.

Removing Barriers to Family-Building | AB 2356 (Skinner)

AB 2356 will ensure that women in same-sex relationships can access fertility services on the same terms as women in different-sex relationships.

Protect Religious Freedom in Marriage | SB 1140 (Leno)

SB 1140 reaffirms the principles of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with respect to the freedom of clergy to make faith-based decisions regarding which marriages they solemnize in order to strongly refute the claims made by some anti-equality activists.

2011

FAIR Education Act | SB 48 (Leno)

The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act amends the education code to require schools to integrate factual information about social movements, current events and history of people with disabilities and LGBT people into existing social studies lessons.

Equality and Equal Access in Higher Education | AB 620 (Block)

AB 620 requests all California public colleges and universities adopt and publish policies on harassment, intimidation and bullying to be included within the rules of student conduct and to designate an employee at each of their respective campuses as a point of contact to address the needs of LGBT faculty, staff and students.

Seth’s Law AB 9 (Ammiano)

AB 9 will put pressure on schools to better report and discourage all types of bullying with a particular emphasis on protecting children bullied for their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Gender Nondiscrimination Act | AB 887 (Atkins)

AB 887 places “gender identity and expression” alongside other protected categories in our non-discrimination laws, helping people to understand the law and effectively address discrimination against transgender people.

Vital Statistics Modernization Act | AB 433 (Lowenthal)

AB 433 streamlines the existing process for making a petition for a court order recognizing a change of gender and obtaining an updated birth certificate.

Judicial Applicant and Appointment Demographics Inclusion Act | SB 182 (Corbett)

SB 182, in the interest of inclusiveness and diversity, ensures that voluntary data on the gender identity and sexual orientation of potential judges is gathered through the state’s Judicial Applicant Data Report, alongside existing questions on gender and racial or ethnic identity.

Survey Data Inclusion Act | SB 416 (Kehoe)

SB 416 would have added voluntary demographic questions on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, domestic partnership status and spouse’s gender to two statewide surveys.

Domestic Partner Equality Act | SB 651 (Leno)

SB 651 corrects multiple problems and differences that remain between marriage and domestic partnership. Among the most egregious is a cohabitation requirement for domestic partners that does not exist for marriages.

Equal Benefits Bill | SB 117 (Kehoe)

SB 117 requires that all contractors who are paid more than $100,000 do not discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation of their employees’ spouses or domestic partners. This bill ensures that all same-sex couples who are legally married are equally protected.

Protection of Parent-Child Relationships Act AB 1349 (Hill)

This bill clarifies that the courts can consider the relationship between the child and his or her non-biological parents when they are asked to rule on who the child’s legal parents are. This bill ensures that California’s parentage laws continue to protect and preserve children’s established family relationships.

LGBT Cultural Competency Training | SB 747 (Kehoe)

SB 747 requires regulatory boards that license or certify healthcare professionals to require continuing education on LGBT cultural competency in healthcare, ensuring safe and understanding care.

Insurance Non-Discrimination Act | SB 757 (Lieu)

SB 757 clarifies that any insurance policy sold or issued in California must comply with our state’s non-discrimination requirements, even if the insurance company is out-of-state.

LGB Veterans Fairness Resolution | SJR 2 (Kehoe)

SJR 2 would urge the President, Congress, and Defense Secretary to take action on the federal level to put an end to fines on LGB veterans discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. These veterans are often forced to repay costs relating to education and training, sometimes amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

2010

Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act | SB 906 (Leno)

This bill reaffirms the freedom of clergy to make faith-based decisions regarding which marriages they solemnize. Additionally, this bill clarifies that religious institutions would not lose their tax exempt status in California if they refuse to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to their religious faith.

Separation Equity Act | AB 2700 (Ma)

AB 2700 creates a consolidated form and procedure to dissolve both a civil marriage and domestic partnership at the same time. This bill would eliminate some of the legal barriers same-sex couples face as a result of the State of California treating the relationships of same-sex couples differently.

Mental Health Services for At-Risk Youth | SB 543 (Leno)

This bill permits youth ages 12-17 to consent to mental health treatment without parental permission if the attending professional believes the youth is mature enough to make the decision or if the youth would present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to self and others without the services.

Repeal of Discriminatory Code | AB 2199 (Lowenthal)

AB 2199 repeals a particularly offensive section of the California Welfare and Institutions code, which instructs the State Department of Mental Health to conduct research into the “causes and cures of homosexuality” with the implication that LGBT Californians are sexual deviants, potential sex offenders and a threat to children.

Data Inclusion Act | AB 1878 (Lieu)

AB 1878 is the first bill in the nation that would require the state to add questions about sexual orientation, gender identity and domestic partnership status in the voluntary demographic section of California’s government forms.

LGBT Prisoner Safety Act | AB 633 (Ammiano)

This bill adopts the National Prisoner Rape Elimination Commission Standards. The bill gives guidance as to how sexual orientation and gender identity and other factors should be considered in order to safely classify and house prisoners.

Hate Crimes Protection Act | AB 1680 (Saldaña)

This bill prohibits contracts from requiring a person to waive their legal rights and procedures under the Ralph Civil Rights Act, which provides protections from hate related crimes.

Unemployment Benefits Equality | AB 2055 (De La Torre)

AB 2055 enables same-sex couples who are about to become registered domestic partners to receive unemployment benefits just as their heterosexual counterparts do.

Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act | AJR 19 (Brownley and Feuer)

This resolution puts California on record in support of repealing the federal “Defense of Marriage Act.”

Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell | SJR 9 (Kehoe)

This resolution puts California on record in support of the federal Military Readiness Enhancement Act, recognizing the vital contributions of gay and lesbian members of our armed forces and reversing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Support the Uniting American Families Act | AJR 15 (León)

This resolution puts California on record in support of the federal Uniting American Families Act, which would remove legal barriers to immigration by permanent same-sex partners.

Blood Donor Nondiscrimination | AJR 13 (Ammiano)

This resolution urges repeal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s outdated and discriminatory rule prohibiting healthy gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

Domestic Partner Tax Equity Resolution | AJR 29 (Feuer)

This resolution asks the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to adjust its policy to allow California’s legally married same-sex couples and registered domestic partners, as well as those in other states, to file jointly for federal income taxes.

2020 Census Inclusion Resolution | SJR 28 (Kehoe)

This resolution urges the federal government to include questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2020 Census questionnaire.

Stop Uganda’s Bill Criminalizing LGBT People | SR 51 (Leno)

This resolution condemns Uganda’s so-called “anti-homosexuality bill.” If passed by Uganda’s legislature, the bill would criminalize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, allowing for punishments such as life in prison and even death for “homosexual acts.”
2009

Harvey Milk Day | SB 572 (Leno)

This bill requires the governor proclaim May 22 each year as Harvey Milk Day. It would encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.

Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act | SB 54 (Leno)

This bill clarifies California family law to explicitly recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed out-of-state prior to November 5, 2008. The bill would also explicitly recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed out-of-state after that date as carrying all the same rights and responsibilities that spouses receive although without the designation of marriage.

LGBT Domestic Violence Programs | AB 1003 (Pérez)

LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion Bill expands access for LGBT service providers to a state fund that supports LGBT-specific domestic violence programs across the state and is subsidized by a $23 fee on new domestic partner registrations.

Equal ID Act | AB 1185 (Lieu)

AB 1185 allows qualified transgender people born in California to return to the county of their birth to obtain a new birth certificate reflecting the correct gender, as well as any accompanying name change.

LGBT Prisoner Safety Act | AB 382 (Ammiano)

This bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the current list of factors that should be considered in order to safely classify and house prisoners.

Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention | SR 23 (Kehoe and Leno)

This resolution puts the California Senate on record in support of the federal Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would expand the authority and capacity of the United States Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence.

Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention | HR 16 (Nava and Eng)

This resolution puts the California Assembly on record in support of the federal Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would expand the authority and capacity of the United States Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence.

Employment Non-Discrimination Act | SR 27 (De Saulnier)

This resolution puts the California Senate on record in support of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would extend U.S. employment laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Employment Non-Discrimination Act | HR 20 (Eng)

This resolution puts the California Assembly on record in support of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would extend U.S. employment laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Senate Urging Repeal of Prop 8 | SR 7 (Leno)

This resolution puts the Senate on record as supporting the repeal of Proposition 8 and declaring that the initiative was an improper revision to the California Constitution.

Assembly Urging Repeal of Prop 8 | HR 5 (Ammiano)

This resolution puts the Assembly on record as supporting the repeal of Proposition 8 and declaring that the initiative was an improper revision to the California Constitution.

2008

Harvey Milk Day | AB 2567 (Leno)

This bill requires the governor to proclaim May 22 each year as Harvey Milk Day. It would encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.

Civil Rights Act of 2008 | AB 2654 (Laird)

Assembly Bill 2654, the Civil Rights Act of 2008, amends existing nondiscrimination provisions to be consistent with the nondiscrimination protections in the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in state-funded programs and activities.

LGBT Senior Care Training | SB 1729 (Migden)

Senate Bill 1729 requires licensed health professionals who have constant interaction with seniors in nursing homes and senior care facilities to receive training to better understand how to foster an environment that is free from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Foster Youth School Safety Education | AB 3015 (Brownley)

AB 3015 requires that existing training programs for foster youth, foster youth group homes, child welfare personnel, foster parents, and relative caregivers, include information on current school safety laws that protect students from bias-motivated harassment and discrimination.

Housing Co-Ownership | SB 153 (Migden)

SB 153 allows two people, including same-sex couples, who co-own a home together and meet specified criteria, to avoid a property tax increase upon the death of one co-owner.

2007

Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act | AB 43 (Leno)

The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act guarantees the California Constitution’s promise of religious freedom and extends the vital protections afforded by marriage to loving and committed same-sex couples.

Student Civil Rights Act | SB 777 (Kuehl)

The Student Civil Rights Act creates uniform nondiscrimination standards within the state’s education code so students, teachers and school administrators clearly understand the protections that are provided within California’s publicly-funded schools and programs.
S

afe Place to Learn Act | AB 394 (Levine)

The Safe Place to Learn Act provides clarification and guidance to school districts and the California Department of Education regarding what steps should be taken to ensure compliance with the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000.

Juvenile Justice Safety and Protection | Act SB 518 (Migden)

SB 518 addresses the crisis of abuse and discrimination against LGBT youth by instituting some basic safeguards including a Youth Bill of Rights, statutory anti-bias rules, and mandatory training regarding youth rights for correctional officers and other facility staff.

Civil Rights Act of 2007 | AB 14 (Laird)

AB 14 amends existing nondiscrimination provisions to be consistent with the nondiscrimination protections in the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in state funded programs and activities.

Fair and Equal Taxation for Surviving Partners Act | SB 559 (Kehoe)

SB 559 allows certain domestic partners to seek a reduction in their property taxes if those taxes were unfairly increased prior to the availability of comprehensive domestic partnership protections in California.

Name Equality Act | AB 102 (Ma)

This legislation allows domestic partners and married spouses equal opportunity, regardless of gender, to change their surnames upon marriage or domestic partnership registration.

Resolution Supporting the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” | SJR 6 (Kehoe)

This resolution calls on Congress and the President to end the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibits openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from serving in the Armed Forces by passing the Military Readiness Enhancement Act currently pending in Congress.

Domestic Partners Joint Income Tax Filing Implementation Bill | SB 105 (Migden)

SB 105 simplifies the process for registered domestic partners to file state income taxes, beginning with tax year 2007, by making technical, clarifying amendments necessary to implement SB 1827 (Migden), the State Income Tax Equity Act of 2006, which allowed registered domestic partners to use the same state tax filing status as married persons.

Resolution Urging Federal Support of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act | AJR 29 (Eng)

This resolution urges Congress and the President of the United States to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), also known as the Mathew Shepard Act, which would allow the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and prosecute hate crimes where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

2006

Safe Place to Learn Act | AB 606 (Levine)

The Safe Place to Learn Act would require school districts to enforce California’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment law and provides penalties for school districts found to be in violation of that law.

Bias-Free Curriculum Act | SB 1437 (Kuehl)

SB 1437 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in textbooks, classroom materials and school-sponsored activities.

State Income Tax Equity Act of 2006 | SB 1827 (Migden)

SB 1827 enables registered domestic partners to file joint state income tax returns. This bill affirms that California is committed, with its policies and its budget, to granting full equality to registered domestic partners.

Civil Rights Housing Act of 2006 | AB 2800 (Laird)

AB 2800 standardizes various housing-related nondiscrimination provisions in California law to make them consistent with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Older Californians Equality and Protection Act | AB 2920 (Leno)

AB 2920 amends the Welfare and Institutions Code to strengthen the state’s ability to respond to the needs of LGBT seniors by including them in the list of groups that the Department of Aging assesses and plans for.

Nondiscrimination in State Programs and Activities | SB 1441 (Kuehl)

SB 1441 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state operated or funded services, activities, and programs.

Equality in Prevention and Services for Domestic Abuse Act | AB 2051 (Cohn)

AB 2051 establishes the Equality in Prevention and Services for Domestic Abuse Fund, a continuously appropriated fund to develop and support education and services specific to LGBT domestic violence.

Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act | AB 1160 (Lieber)

AB 1160 amends jury instructions to state that the use of societal bias, including so-called “panic strategies,” to influence the proceedings of a criminal trial is inconsistent with the public policy of the State of California. This legislation is named in the memory of a transgender teenager from Newark, Calif., who was attacked and killed in 2002.

Code of Fair Campaign Practices | AB 1207 (Yee)

AB 1207 would prohibit the use of any negative appeal based on prejudice against LGBT people by candidates or campaign committees who sign the voluntary pledge provided for in the Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

2005

Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act | AB 849 (Leno)

AB 849 would guarantee the California Constitution’s protection of religious freedom and ensure equal treatment under the law by allowing same-sex couples to marry in California.

Code of Fair Campaign Practices | AB 866 (Yee)

AB 866 prohibits the use of any negative appeal based on prejudice against LGBT people by candidates or campaign committees who sign the voluntary pledge provided for in the Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

Elimination of “Panic” Strategy in Criminal Trials AB 1160 (Lieber)

AB 1160 would modify the existing definition of “voluntary manslaughter” to prohibit defendants from contending that they were provoked to murder by discovering the victim’s disability, gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation of the victim.

Civil Rights Act of 2005 AB 1400 (Laird)

AB 1400 amends the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) to clarify that people are protected from discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or familial status.

Insurance Non-Discrimination Act AB 1586 (Koretz)

The Insurance Gender Non-Discrimination Act bars insurance companies and health care service plans from discriminating on the basis of gender in the creation or maintenance of service contracts or the provision of benefits or coverage.

Domestic Partner Pension Death Benefit Legislation SB 973 (Kuehl)

SB 973 allows registered domestic partners who were public employees that retired prior to January 1, 2005 to select their partner to receive a death benefit should the retiree pre-decease their partner.

Resolution Supporting the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” SJR 11 (Kehoe)

This resolution calls on Congress and the President to end the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibits openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the U.S. Military by passing the Military Readiness Act currently pending in Congress.

2004

Marriage License Non-Discrimination Act AB 1967 (Leno)

This bill will prevent county clerks and other government officials from discriminating against same-sex couples in the issuance of marriage licenses in the State of California. Marriage licenses will allow same-sex couples to access the benefits of marriage in California.

California Insurance Equality Act AB 2208 (Kehoe)

This bill will amend the Insurance and the Health & Safety Codes to prohibit insurance providers from issuing policies or plans that discriminate against domestic partners. It will require all insurance policies and plans that include coverage for spouses — including health, life, auto, and homeowners insurance, among others — to include the same coverage for domestic partners.

Omnibus Labor and Employment Non-Discrimination Act AB 2900 (Laird)

This bill amends existing labor and employment non-discrimination provisions in California law to be consistent with the non-discrimination provisions in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Omnibus Hate Crimes Act SB 1234 (Kuehl)

This bill standardizes Penal Code sections relating to hate crimes. It also changes policies and procedures related to the treatment of victims, plus the training of law enforcement.

Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA) Resolution AJR 60 (Lieber)

This resolution encourages the passage of PPIA by the US Congress. Family unification is a basic principle of US immigration law, but same-sex bi-national couples are not covered under federal law.

Resolution Opposing A Federal Marriage Discrimination Amendment AJR 85 (Leno)

This resolution opposes the proposed federal amendment that would discriminate against gay and lesbian Americans. This resolution denounces attempts to amend the Constitution to prohibit lesbian and gay Americans from ever obtaining legal protections for their family relationships.

2003

Equal Benefits in State Contracting AB 17 (Kehoe)

Prohibits state agencies from contracting with businesses that discriminate in employment benefits offered to employees with spouses and employees with registered domestic partners.

Gender Nondiscrimination AB 196 (Leno)

Prohibits discrimination in employment and housing based on gender non-conformity.

Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 AB 205 (Goldberg)

Significantly expands the rights and responsibilities provided to registered domestic partners and their families to include nearly all state legal rights, duties, benefits, responsibilities, and obligations currently available only to married couples.

Tags:

Republican Glenn Miller gets called a “RINO” for supporting gay rights. His response is epic

May 14, 2014 By Josh Steichmann
EQCA endorses Glen Miller for SD 28

EQCA endorses Glen Miller for SD 28

In a first for Equality California, we endorsed a Republican, Glenn Miller, for Senate District 28. He has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, and has pledged to be a representative for all Californians. Needless to say, this made some people unhappy, including former Riverside County Republican Party Chairman Bob Richmond, who sent out a letter:

The democrats have 2 of their candidates running for the Senate. One of the democrat candidates is endorsed by the Democrat State Party. But, Equality California has endorsed Republican Glenn Miller to be their choice to vote for and to win. Why? Would Glenn Miller work with and sellout to these pinko commie, socialist, progressive, liberal, democrats just to get elected? The democrats don’t endorse any candidate over 2 other democrats, because you’re a nice guy or because you are a good Republican. They endorse you, because you agree with their democratic ideals more than the other 2 democrat candidates. Equality California has endorsed over 60 democrat candidates and Glenn Miller as the only Republican, actually the only Rhino. This is a very partisan left wing organization.

As the past Chairman of the Riverside County Republican Party, I would say that it would be a disaster to elect Glenn Miller and send him to the Senate. He cannot be trusted to do the right things for Republicans. I don’t want him to be the one senator that will sell out to the Democrats on raising taxes, organizing and voting for a plastic bag ban, like he did in Indio, or working across the aisle to help pass the Democratic platform. We all know that selling your vote to the democrats is silly. The democrats never vote with Republicans for smaller government, less taxes, less regulation or 2nd amendment rights, which are the real important things that will save California and bring us back to the great State that we once were, when Republicans controlled the government. I hope all Republicans, who vote for Glenn, enjoy his victory party with a bunch of like-minded Socialists.

Glenn Miller’s response is epic:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Many of you have received an email late last night from Bob Richmond, a declared supporter of Bonnie Garcia, in which I was accused of being a “rhino” and “socialist” due to my recent endorsement by Equality California. It is a great honor to be the very first Republican in the State of California that has received this endorsement from this groundbreaking organization that has led the way on LGBT issues in our State and fights for equality for everyone.

Mr. Richmond fails realize that the Republican Party has a history of alienating the LGBT Community. This makes many LGBT Americans reluctant to support such a one sided political party.

When I first entered the State Senate race, I promised the residents of the 28th District that when I’m elected I will represent ALL the residents of the District, and not just members of the Republican Party. This district is made up of a diverse group of good, hardworking people that come from different social and economic backgrounds and everyone deserves equal and fair representation from their State Senator, not just more campaign promises.

Over the past 6 years as an elected official for the City of Indio, I have had the pleasure of working with other elected officials in the Coachella Valley who are members of the LGBT community. They know that I am fair minded and that I truly care about making our community a better place to live, work and raise our families. I have also used this same approach when working with my Democratic and Independent colleagues on regional projects in Riverside County, and at the State level on the League of California Cities Revenue and Taxation Board.

However, there is one thing I am certain of, the Republican Party will not be successful in this District or in the State of California if it continues to support people like Bob Richmond and his closed-minded beliefs. Our focus must be on the importance of fairness, equality for all and inclusion of all residents in the State of California, and that is what I stand for!

Sincerely,

Glenn A. Miller,

Councilmember City of Indio and

Candidate for the 28th State Senate District

Big changes at EQCA

April 22, 2014 By Josh Steichmann

John_and_Rick_compDear EQCA members,

Thank you. For the last year and a half, I’ve had an amazing opportunity to lead one of the premier organizations fighting for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together: We had major legislative victories, like passing the first law in the nation to protect transgender students, and major victories in the courts — I’ll never forget the joy in the faces around me when news of the Proposition 8 decision came down and our supporters flooded the streets.

We’ve strengthened EQCA organizationally, helped to increase the LGBT community’s political power in California and initiated new programming that did more to directly enroll uninsured LGBT people under the Affordable Care Act rollout than any other LGBT organization nationwide. EQCA is in a better place now, and I’m proud of that too.

Which is why it’s with a mix of emotions that I’m letting you know today that I’ve decided to step down as executive director of EQCA effective July of this year.

While it was a difficult decision to leave EQCA at this time to handle personal affairs, I’m thrilled that our boards of directors have acted swiftly and decisively to select a new executive director.

Effective September 1, EQCA board member, LGBT and environmental advocate and senior partner with the law firm of Latham & Watkins, Rick Zbur, will succeed me as executive director of Equality California.

I’m confident that Rick is the right choice to lead EQCA into the next chapter. Rick is a dynamic leader who will continue our work and advance EQCA’s mission of securing full and lasting equality for LGBT Californians.

Rick is a father of three, and he grew up in a farming community in the Rio Grande Valley south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his mother, Erlinda Chavez Zbur and her family have lived for generations. Rick has been a lifelong LGBT trailblazer: He was Latham & Watkins’ first openly gay attorney and first openly gay partner. He also took a leave of absence from his firm in January 1996 to run for Congress in California’s 38th Congressional District, where he became the first openly gay, non-incumbent to win a contested primary for U.S. Congress.

Rick is also active politically and in the non-profit world. He has served and will continue to serve as president and chair of the board of the California League of Conservation Voters, the political action arm of California’s environment community. He has also served on the board of Lambda Legal and was a founding director and vice president at the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.

Rick’s top priority will be continuing the trajectory of stability and effective work that we’ve achieved during the last 18 months. He will focus on the organization’s core mission of achieving full and lasting equality for LGBT people through smart and effective legislation, education and outreach, and by building and expanding our community’s political power. A key to EQCA’s success under Rick’s leadership will be to continue to strengthen our partnerships and alliances within and as a part of California’s emerging electorate.

I have loved my time with EQCA, and will continue on through July. I am only able to leave EQCA with satisfaction at this time due to the confidence I have in Rick, the board and staff to all continue on with the important work and to take EQCA to the next level.

Please join me in giving Rick Zbur a warm welcome as the next executive director of Equality California.

Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit

February 25, 2014 By Guest Contributor

Male_Couple_With_Child-02

By Megan Asselin, CPA and Abigail Stokes Palsma

In most cases, taxpayers, whether single, registered domestic partners, or married couples, are eligible to claim a tax credit on the federal tax return for the expenses related to the adoption of a child. For the 2013 federal tax return, adopting families are able to claim qualified expenses up to $12,970. Additionally, families who adopt a child from a California Public Agency are eligible for a credit on their California tax return for 50% of qualified costs up to $2,500 per child.

The application of the federal credit varies based on whether the adopted child is in the foster care system, is a domestic child, or is a foreign child. The credit is not allowed when adopting a spouse’s child, however, there is an aggressive tax strategy that some may find helpful. Additionally, there are specific instructions for both the federal and state credits regarding how to claim expenses that occur over multiple years.

Basic Rules for the Adoption Credit

When adopting a child, it is important to keep track of all qualified expenses related to the adoption process. Qualified expenses as defined by the IRS include court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for food and lodging while away from home), and other expenses directly related to the adoption of an eligible child. An eligible child as defined by the IRS, is any child under the age of 18 or any individual who is physically or mentally unable to care for himself.

On both the federal and California tax returns, qualified expenses are documented so that the taxpayer can receive a credit, which lowers the amount of taxes owed. Because the IRS and the California Franchise Board are two different taxing authorities, the same expenses can be claimed on both returns. Yet, because California offers the 50 percent credit only to those who adopt from a state agency and adoption fees are generally waived or very low for these types of adoptions, many adopting families do not receive a significant credit on their California tax return.

The tax credit is nonrefundable, which means that it is used only to decrease the total amount of taxes owed in a particular tax year. However, if the credit is greater than taxes owed, it can be carried over for up to five years on the federal return and until it is used on the California return. If that occurs, the taxpayer can use the tax credit against the tax liability in the subsequent year(s).

Adopting a Foster Child

While domestic and foreign adoptions can both be very expensive, adopting a child from a foster system is typically more affordable. In fact, state and county governments as well as qualified foster care placement agencies provide financial assistance for foster parents who are adopting the child(ren) in their care. Payments of this kind are generally excluded from the family’s income.

Regardless of the amount an adopting family spends, many foster adoptions qualify for the maximum credit if the child is defined as “special needs.” This does not mean that the child has physical or mental disabilities, but rather that he or she meets specific criteria, which might vary by state. In California, a foster child is considered to have special needs if she meets one of the following criteria. The child is/has:

  • Three years of age or older,
  • A race, ethnicity, color, or language that is a barrier to adoption,
  • A member of a sibling group that should remain together,
  • A mental, physical, emotional, or medical disability certified by a licensed professional, or
  • A parental background of a medical or behavioral nature that can be determined to adversely affect the development of the child.

For the California credit, the child must be a U.S. citizen and must be adopted from a California public agency (state, county, or city). Private adoptions and adoptions through a charitable organization do not qualify for the credit.

Case study: Mark and Larry are foster parents for a sibling group of two young children. Their charity-based foster agency provides monthly assistance payments, and now that they have decided to adopt the children, the payments have increased. Sibling groups qualify as “special needs” in a foster adoption. Even though Mark and Larry have received assistance from their agency and the costs related to the adoption process were relatively low, they are still able to claim the maximum adoption credit on their federal tax return for both children because of the children’s “special needs” classification ($12,970 x 2 = $25,940). In the tax year that Mark and Larry adopt the children, the potential credit available to offset their tax liability is $25,940. Because they adopted from an agency that is not a California Public Agency, they are not eligible for a credit on their California tax return.

Adopting a Spouse’s Child

As previously stated, the tax credit is available to be claimed when adopting an “eligible child.” The IRS definition of eligibility excludes the child of the taxpayer’s spouse. Certainly, a taxpayer may adopt his spouse’s child, but he will not receive a tax credit for related expenses. However, there is an aggressive tax strategy that some might find useful.

If the adoption is finalized prior to the marriage, but both the adoption and the marriage happen in the same tax year, the taxpayer can claim the credit. In this case, the child was literally not the child of the taxpayer’s spouse at the time of the adoption, making the child legally “eligible.” This could be confusing, if you are aware that the IRS considers married at any point in the year as married for the entire year. However, this provision only applies to certain Codes, such as the definition of a dependent and rate schedules. It does not apply to the adoption eligibility status of a child.

Caution: If a couple claims the adoption credit in the same tax year they are married, the IRS may perform an audit to verify that the adoption occurred before the marriage. Be prepared to provide documentation of both events should the IRS question the return.

Case Study: Marcia and Jane have been Registered Domestic Partners for five years. Jane has a ten-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, and Marcia legally adopted her in early 2013. After DOMA was overturned in 2013, Marcia and Jane decided to marry before the end of the year so that they could take advantage of the tax benefits married couples are eligible for. In order to receive the adoption credit, Marcia and Jane must file their federal tax return jointly, even though this draws attention to the fact that Marcia has adopted Jane’s child. The couple has kept clear records to show that the adoption was final several months before they married. Marcia and Jane do not use the same strategy for their California tax return. Even before DOMA was overturned, the State of California allowed for Registered Domestic Partners to file their state tax return jointly. In the eyes of state laws, they were provided the same tax benefits as married couples, including credits associated with dependents. Therefore, Marcia and Jane’s income has already been adjusted to account for costs associated with raising Jane’s daughter. Even if that weren’t the case, Jane’s daughter was not adopted from a state agency, so no state-based adoption credit is available to the two moms.

How to Claim the Federal Credit when Expenses Span More Than One Year

The federal adoption credit is limited to $12,970 in 2013 for each adoption effort. If costs for the same adoption effort occur in multiple years, the dollar limit for the subsequent year must be reduced by the amount claimed in the previous year. In other words, the most a family can claim for an adoption is the maximum amount allowed, whether all of the costs were incurred in the same year or multiple years. In the Instructions for Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, the IRS published the following charts that clarify when to claim expenses. A domestic adoption refers to the adoption of an eligible child who is a U.S. citizen. A foreign adoption refers to the adoption of a child that is not yet a citizen or resident of the U.S.

Domestic Adoption

IF you pay qualifying expenses in… THEN take the credit in…
Any year before the year the adoption becomes final The year after the year of the payment.
The year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption becomes final.
Any year after the year the adoption becomes final The year of the payment.
IF your employer pays for qualifying expenses under an adoption assistance program in… THEN take the exclusion in…
Any year The year of the payment.

 

Foreign Adoption

IF you pay qualifying expenses in… THEN take the credit in…
Any year before the year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption becomes final.
The year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption becomes final.
Any year after the year the adoption becomes final The year of the payment.
IF your employer pays for qualifying expenses under an adoption assistance program in… THEN take the exclusion in…
Any year before the year the adoption becomes final The year after the year of the payment.
The year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption becomes final.
Any year after the year the adoption becomes final The year of the payment.

 

For eligible California adoptions, the credit is available in the year the adoption becomes final. Expenses that were incurred in the prior taxable year can only be included in the computation of expenses in the year the adoption was finalized.

Case Study: Jack and Jill are adopting a domestic baby through a private adoption agency. They spent $3,970 in legal fees in 2012, but the adoption was not final, so they cannot yet claim the expenses on federal tax return. Because the agency is private, they are not eligible for the California credit. In 2013, they expect to pay an additional $12,000 to finalize the adoption. When they prepare their 2013 federal tax return, they may claim only the maximum $12,970, even though they spent a total of $15,970.

Case Study: Mike and Sue are adopting a foreign baby. They began the process in 2011, when they paid initial fees to the agency. They continued through the process and incurred the bulk of their expenses in 2012. They brought the baby home and finalized the adoption in 2013, incurring expenses for travel, as well as the final attorney, agency and court fees. Mike and Sue report all eligible adoption expenses incurred from 2011 to 2013 on their 2013 tax return and apply the $12,970 maximum credit to reduce their tax liability that year. Since the baby is not a U.S. Citizen, Mike and Sue cannot claim the California tax credit.

Case Study: George and Anthony adopted a foster baby through the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Assume that adoption costs through this governmental entity are waived. Therefore, there is no credit to claim on the California tax return. However, because the foster baby fits the definition of “special needs,” George and Anthony are able to claim the maximum credit on their federal tax return, or $12,970.

Employer Adoption Assistance Programs

As noted in the preceding IRS charts, there is a second tax benefit available to adopting families who receive assistance through their employer’s adoption assistance programs. When an adopting family receives assistance through such a program, the amount received reduces qualified expenses and is also excluded from the gross income.

Case Study: Jennifer is adopting a domestic baby. Her employer pays $3,000 of her attorney fees through an adoption assistance program. When she files her federal tax return, she must reduce the amount of the qualified expenses by $3,000. This amount will also be excluded from her gross income since this is an employer benefit that is not taxed and has already been applied to the qualified expenses.

For more information about the adoption tax credit or to schedule a free 30-minute consultation, please contact Megan Asselin at MAsselin@vlsllp.com or 626-857-7300, ext. 309.

Megan Asselin, CPA is a Senior Manager at Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman LLP in Glendora, specializing in tax, audit, and general accounting services. Abigail Stokes Palsma is the Knowledge Manager for Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman. An earlier version of this article was published in February 2014 by Bienvenidos, https://bienvenidos.org/adoption-tax-credit/.

VLS_60th_Logo

How Grantland Helped Push a Transgender Woman Over the Edge

January 23, 2014 By Guest Contributor

transgolfBy Julian Cabrera and Josh Steichmann

A week ago, Grantland, a sports and culture website run by Bill Simmons, published a story by Caleb Hannan about a purportedly revolutionary putter invented by Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, but Hannan was more fascinated with unraveling Vanderbilt’s mysterious personal life than her clubs.

He dug into her background, which she claimed was MIT physics with a dollop of top secret government work, but Dr. V got cagey, then angry. She pleaded and threatened, but Hannan kept going.

“The deeper I looked, the stranger things got,” Hannan wrote. And after tantalizing hints and incredulous foreshadowing, Hannan outed Dr. V as a transgender woman.

The story got stranger, and darker. Hannan learned that Dr. V had attempted suicide before, and her correspondence grew even more erratic. A few weeks after she last emailed Hannan, telling him he was committing a hate crime, Dr. V killed herself. Hannan describes Dr. V’s brother-in-law giving a brusque and cruel report of her death, then blithely wonders what it means about himself.

The backlash started nearly immediately, with Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons writing a broad apology. In it, he acknowledged that Grantland and Hannan had made grievous mistakes.

“Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive. I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland,” wrote Simmons.

“I didn’t know nearly enough about the transgender community — and neither does my staff,” Simmons wrote. “That’s not an acceptable excuse; it’s just what happened…We’re never taking the Dr. V piece down from Grantland partly because we want people to learn from our experience.”

Christina Kahrl, a transgender woman and baseball writer, wrote a blistering guest piece on Hannan’s article and Grantland’s carelessness.

“By any professional or ethical standard … it wasn’t [Hannan’s] information to share,” Kahrl wrote. “[He] really should have simply stuck with debunking those claims to education and professional expertise relevant to the putter itself, [and] dropped the element of her gender identity if she didn’t want that to be public information — as she very clearly did not.”

Kahrl also pointed out that the piece, aimed towards “mostly white, mostly older, mostly male audience,” did nothing but “reinforce several negative stereotypes about trans people.” And more than that, Kahrl also gave important historical context — up until fairly recently, transgender people were advised to adopt “deep stealth,” and completely abandon their previous lives in order to transition to their authentic gender identity.

“Stealth is tough to maintain, and generally involves trading one closet for another: You may be acting on your sense of self to finally achieve happiness, but the specter of potential discovery is still with you. And if you wind up in the public eye for any reason, stealth might be that much more difficult to maintain,” wrote Kahrl.

A story originally meant to be about a discovery that could have changed the world of golf unfortunately devolved into blind, unthinking privilege, and may have cost a woman her life.

More reactions: Shakesville: Careless, Cruel and Unaccountable.

Rebecca Schoenkopf: That Grantland Trans* Story.

Cyd Zeigler: How Grantland Failed the Trans Community.

Alyssa Rosenberg: Ten Questions Grantland Should Answer About Dr. V and the Magic Putter.

Paris Lees: Is it OK for a Journalist to Reveal the Birth Gender of a Trans Person?

Josh Levin: Digging Too Deep.

Update on the Referendum Attempt to Repeal the School Success and Opportunity Act

November 23, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

websitelogo_revised4

The following is an update from Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor regarding the status of the referendum attempt:

Dear friends,

With your help, Equality California and our coalition partners tracked the activity of anti-LGBT groups over the past few months as they gathered signatures to repeal the School Success and Opportunity Act. We received calls and emails confirming what we already knew — our opponents were employing shameless and desperate scare tactics to collect, and ultimately submit signatures for a referendum.

Now, Equality California and our partners have been hard at work, carefully monitoring the results of their attempt to repeal this historic law that ensures all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in school.

Status of the Referendum Attempt:

As of Friday evening, the Secretary of State is reporting that they’ve received a total of 613,120 signatures from a majority of California’s counties. While there are still three small counties that have yet to submit signatures, the current total surpasses the threshold of 504,760 signatures needed to initiate the signature verification process.

That’s the phase we’re in now, but this does not mean the referendum has qualified.

Now, the Secretary of State’s Office has notified county elections officials that they will have to randomly sample signatures for validation, to ensure petitions were signed by registered voters.

The deadline to complete the random sample validation is January 8, 2014.

If the result of the random sample indicates that the number of valid signatures represents between 95% and 110% of 504,760, the Secretary of State would then direct the county elections officials to verify every signature on the petition. In this scenario, the verification process could go into mid-March of 2014. This process is referred to as a full check of signatures.

Moreover, at this stage, if the total number of valid signatures is less than 95% of the number of signatures required to qualify the referendum, the referendum will fail to qualify for the ballot.

If the number of valid signatures is greater than 110% of the required number of signatures, the initiative measure will qualify.

Currently, opponents are averaging 75.46% in the random sample, which is far below the average ultimately needed to qualify.

Because the purpose of the School Success and Opportunity Act is really to spell out the existing federal and state law so that school administrators, teachers, parents and students fully understand their responsibilities and rights, even if this referendum attempt were to qualify and pass — which looks more and more unlikely — those fundamental responsibilities and rights would not change.

Rest assured that regardless of the outcome of this referendum attempt, EQCA is committed to doing whatever it takes to defend this bill and protect the opportunities it creates for all students, including transgender students. 

We will continue to provide updates as they are made available. In the meantime, we strongly urge you to learn more about the School Success and Opportunity Act by visiting our coalition website: www.supportallstudents.org.

Very truly Yours,

John O’Connor

Executive Director

 

Tags:

They’ve submitted signatures

November 11, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

 

 

Dear friends,

Yesterday, our opponents submitted signatures in an attempt to overturn the School Success and Opportunity Act at the ballot box. The same people who spearheaded Proposition 8 – Frank Schubert and the National Organization of Marriage – are now going after the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community – our youth.

These fringe anti-LGBT groups have used every dirty trick in the book to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures. By distorting the truth about non-discrimination protections, they were able to scare voters into signing their petitions.

Join us by contributing to protect the School Success and Opportunity Act now!

The Secretary of State will verify the raw count of all signatures they submitted by Thursday, November 21st which our opponents have stated is close to 620,000. The Secretary of State has up to 38 business days to verify the signatures submitted by our opponents before she determines whether or not a referendum on the School Success and Opportunity Act will qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

We know that our opponents lie and that’s why we are waiting on the Secretary of State’s confirmation about the actual number of valid signatures submitted. Nonetheless, this is a very serious attack on our youth and we will do everything we can to protect the law.

In the meantime, Equality California, along with the co-sponsoring organizations of the law, will be monitoring the situation closely and preparing for all scenarios.

We refuse to let these attacks on our youth go unanswered. That’s why we need to continue to set record the straight about the law and combat these blatant lies. Over the past few months, you’ve helped us engage in tens of thousands of conversations about the law – on the phones and on the streets. But, it’s even more crucial now that we keep this up.

The campaign to overturn this historic law protecting our youth has been primarily fueled by wealthy out-of-state funders. A hedge fund manager from New Jersey, who gave over $1 million to Proposition 8, recently wrote checks totaling $200,000 toward this new attack on our rights. Our movement doesn’t have massive funding, but we have you – and we need your help in two specific ways – 1. fund our grassroots campaign to defend this law and 2. sign up to be on call as a volunteer.

Stand up to the right-wing money machine and donate $100 to help us spread the truth.

Click here to sign up to be a volunteer on call.

Regardless of whether they qualify for the ballot, our opponents will continue to attack our community – at the ballot box, in the legislature and in the courts of law. Equality California, along with our allies, remains vigilant and will continue to update you with any new developments.

Sincerely,

John O’Connor

Executive Director

Tags:

New life for ENDA in Congress

October 28, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Cindy McCain signed postcard in support of ENDA

Passing a national Employment Non-Discrimination Act to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees has been a goal of LGBT advocacy for a generation, introduced in every Congressional session since 1994, with similar legislation dating back to 1974.

ENDA may be getting new life, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid readying ENDA for a Senate floor vote, and a growing effort to bring Republican support to the bill.

Even Cindy McCain is signing on, though her husband has yet to vote in favor.

But if the Senate can pass ENDA, the real question will be the GOP-led House. After an “autopsy” came out last year analyzing the dismal failure of the Republican party to attract young voters, one of the prescriptions was moving toward more support for LGBT equality, and an employment bill could be more palatable than something like marriage.

A staggering 80 percent of voters already believe that ENDA is law, and 56 percent of self-described Republicans favor passing ENDA, according to a new poll (PDF) from the Human Rights Campaign. However, Republicans in the House are even more conservative than Republican voters as a whole, so it’s hard to predict whether ENDA will gain sufficient traction to pass.

Angel Haze covers “Same Love”

October 24, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Angel_haze Angel Haze covers Macklemore’s “Same Love” and raps about queer sexuality beyond boundaries. https://soundcloud.com/angelhazeym/same-love-angel-haze

STAY DENIED! MARRIAGE COMING MONDAY TO GARDEN STATE

October 18, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Freedom to marry garden stateCongratulations to loving same-sex New Jersey couples — the New Jersey Supreme Court today held that same-sex couples can marry starting Monday at 12:01 a.m., denying a stay while the court case winds its way through the appeals process.

In their decision, the Court wrote: “What is the public’s interest in a case like this? Like Judge Jacobson, we can find no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process unfolds.”

The long, winding road to the freedom to marry in New Jersey began in earnest in 2002, when Lambda Legal filed Lewis v. Harris, which ended in 2006, with the NJ Supremes ruling that loving same-sex couples couldn’t be denied the rights and privileges of marriage without explicitly mandating the freedom to marry. The New Jersey legislature enacted civil unions, but Garden State Equality, New Jersey United for Marriage and Lambda Legal have been working since then to get full marriage.

The current case, Garden State Equality v. Dow, was filed in 2011, and on September 27, the New Jersey Superior Court found that in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act case, civil unions no longer provided the same protections and benefits that marriage did, ruling that all loving couples in New Jersey must be allowed to marry, setting the effective date as October 21.