BLOG | Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

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.

Gov. Brown Signs Law Making Accurate ID Easier for Transgender Californians

October 8, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

ab 1121It just got a little bit easier (and cheaper) for transgender Californians to live authentic lives.

Governor Jerry Brown just signed AB 1121, written by Assemblymember Toni Atkins, which streamlines the process for documentation changes, specifically name and gender changes on ID like driver’s licenses and vital documents like birth certificates. The law was cosponsored by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center.

Up until now, changes to birth certificates required a court hearing, and now California is in line with many other states that only require an administrative action, in this case from the Office of Vital Records. Since the court filing fee is $435, and the courts are already overburdened with actual cases, this is a win-win for transgender Californians and good governance.

The law also changes the requirement of public notice, which for many transgender people requires outing themselves to their entire community, which may not be safe and at the least is an unnecessary hassle.

“One step in enabling transgender people to live authentic lives consistent with their gender identity is to ensure that their names and their official documents are consistent with who they are,” said Atkins. “I am very pleased that the Governor signed my bill to move us forward toward equality and dignity for transgender Californians.”

“Today California made it easier for people who are transgender to live authentic lives by removing unnecessary barriers to name changes and identity documents,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “This is a common sense solution to ensure that transgender Californians are treated fairly and with respect. We thank Gov. Brown and Assemblymember Atkins for their leadership.”

100 Days Later

October 4, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

100 days from SCOTUS marriage100 days ago, the Supreme Court struck down the central portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, and dismissed the last gasp appeal of the Prop. 8 supporters, returning the freedom to marry to California. Across the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people cheered along with allies who supported the vision of an America where everyone could marry the person that they love.

Since then, we’ve seen a parade of victories at the federal level, from the Department of Homeland Security allowing same-sex spouses full immigration privileges to the IRS issuing new rules to make sure loving same-sex couples are recognized, to the first same-sex weddings on U.S. military bases. We’ve seen big marriage victories in New Mexico and New Jersey, and we’ve seen the roll-out of the biggest advance in LGBT healthcare in our lifetimes with the Affordable Care Act.

Here in California, we’ve seen the federal courts uphold SB 1172, which ended the psychological abuse of LGBT youth by licensed therapists, we’ve seen transgender students win both with the passage and signing of the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), which ensures that transgender students can participate as their authentic selves in school, and at the Arcadia Unified School District, which settled a lawsuit and implemented policies to ensure transgender equality.  Read the rest of this entry »

Big Win for LGBT Youth; Big Loss for Abusive So-Called “Therapists”

August 29, 2013 By Josh Steichmann
Orientation and gender identity aren't a switch to turn on and off

Orientation and gender identity aren’t a switch to turn on and off

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled today that SB 1172, a law that prohibits the discredited and dangerous use of psychological abuse to change sexual orientation in minors by licensed therapists, is constitutional, removing an injunction against the enforcement of the law and remanding the case back to the district court level.

Writing for the court, Circuit Judge Susan Graber ruled that the California law is a “regulation of professional conduct” and therefore “does not violate the free speech rights of [mental health] practitioners or minor patients, is neither vague nor overbroad, and does not violate parents’ fundamental rights.”

SB 1172, authored by Sen. Ted Lieu, takes aim at the debunked practice of subjecting minors to psychological abuse in order to change their sexual orientation, which has been disavowed by every major medical and psychological association.  Read the rest of this entry »

Full Equality and Nothing Less in Scouting

May 20, 2013 By John O'Connor

This week the Boy Scouts of America are set to vote on a resolution to allow gay youth to participate in scouting, while still barring LGBT adults from positions of leadership. While we are encouraged at the willingness to change the proposed policy, it is still alarmingly inadequate and it sends the message to both gay and straight youth that discrimination is okay.

We stand for full equality and nothing less.

That is why we are sponsoring Sen. Ricardo Lara’s Youth Equality Act (SB 323), which ends tax subsidies for any youth group, including the BSA, that excludes LGBT people — it demonstrates that discrimination has a real cost.

We won’t achieve full equality without bold, tangible action, and with the Youth Equality Act, California has an opportunity to lead the country in protecting our youth and ensuring that your money and mine doesn’t go to organizations that discriminate against us.

We’re grateful for the extraordinary work our allied organizations have done on the national level urging the BSA to come into the 21st Century, and we’re excited to focus on the Youth Equality Act here in California.

This isn’t just about the BSA — it’s about making sure that our youth can grow up free from the toxic prejudices of the past, no matter what youth group they join. Make no mistake; Equality California’s efforts will not stop until discrimination is eliminated among California groups receiving tax exemptions. This is about making California a state of full equality.

We can’t do this alone — we need you to act now. Watch our video of Eric Andresen, father to Ryan Andresen, the scout denied his Eagle honors for being gay, and make a contribution now to support the Youth Equality Act.

Assemblymember Ting Rises to Support the School Success and Opportunity Act

May 10, 2013 By Shaun Osburn

Equality California thanks Assemblymember Phil Ting for his moving statement in support of Tom AB 1266, Assembly Bill 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.

Equality Roundup: Legislative Victories

October 5, 2012 By Josh Steichmann

Big huge couple weeks for Equality California. We got all six EQCA-sponsored bills passed and signed!

The one that’s been getting the most attention is SB 1172, a bill to end dangerous psychological abuse of minors. Already, anti-equality groups have filed lawsuits; here’s EQCA pro boon counsel David Codell on KPCC discussing the lawsuit and where things stand.

The field team is transitioning into PAC work — making sure that pro-equality candidates are elected throughout the state. Volunteer here to help out!

Next Thursday, at the CAA Screening Room in LA, we’re proud to present a screening of Wish Me Away, a documentary about country star Chely Wright’s coming out. Here she is talking about the movie and her journey with Kentucky Public Radio. She’ll be at the screening, answering questions. For more information and tickets, click here.

Two days later, we’ll be out in Palm Springs, honoring Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez, Senator Barbara Boxer, and many more. For tickets and more information, the Palm Springs awards page.

It’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month, and we’ll be delving into that further later in the month. For the moment, get your whistle wet with Queer Music Heritage, a 12-year archive of radio shows about queer music, as well as a wealth of information about Stonewall protest songs, camp records and gay folk music.

For a more modern queer music, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert have a video for “Same Love”, which was made in response to Maryland’s current struggle for the freedom to marry.

Two more brief links: Orlando Cruz is the first openly gay boxer! and the new Catholic bishop in San Francisco doesn’t like the gays and they don’t like him.

Equality Roundup: Equality Wrap-Up

September 12, 2012 By Josh Steichmann

john perez at dncAs the late Jim Anchower said, it’s been a while since we rapped atcha. We’ve been busy! We were at Oakland Pride, FYF Fest in LA, the governor’s office and across the state having Breakthrough Conversations.

Oh, and we were watching Assembly Speaker John A. Perez at the DNC (video). Money quote: “Opportunity is why we fight. Across the country there are parents who want nothing more than the opportunity to have a job and the ability to put food on the family table. We fight for them. In too many states, even folks who have jobs wake up every morning worrying that they may lose their job simply because they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We fight for them.”

We’re also bracing for September 24, when the U.S. Supreme Court could certify Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop. 8 case. If they decline to grant certification, then the freedom to marry is restored in California. For Californians, it’s a bit of a bittersweet moment: If the Supremes don’t grant cert, we’ve won and all the volunteer ministers down at the EQCA offices can start just officiating willy-nilly. But that means that Hollingsworth v. Perry won’t be a binding precedent for the rest of the country — some other brave couple will have to win marriage for everyone. Not to get too much into sports metaphors, but it’s the old dilemma of taking the (sure) extra point kick or going for the two-point conversion.

Maybe we’ve just got football on the brain: Brandon Ayanbedejo of the Baltimore Ravens came out in favor of the freedom to marry, since Maryland’s going to vote on it come November. Which led to Maryland Delagate Emmett C. Burns Jr. to write a very silly letter denouncing Ayanbedejo. To which Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe responded with a very silly, swearing letter back, calling Burns out. For those of you who would prefer a non-swearing, but still very silly letter, Kluwe wrote this version that you can share with gramma. Ayanbadejo “thanks” Burns for bringing the whole thing more attention.

In other traditionally macho pursuits: One year study on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal finds absolutely no negative impact. You can read the full study here (PDF).

Finally, while we’ve been keeping up the pressure on Governor Jerry Brown, we’d like your help too: Do you tweet? Join us — and fabulous leaders like actress Jane Lynch – as we ask California Governor Jerry Brown to protect LGBT youth from dangerous psychological abuse by signing Senate Bill 1172 into law. Tag @JerryBrownGov in your tweet, and don’t forget to use the #SB1172 hash tag.

If you don’t tweet, please go to and send a letter in. We can make this happen with your help!

Speaker John Pérez on SB 1172

August 29, 2012 By Shaun Osburn

Speaker Pérez, the first gay man in the nation to hold the position of Speaker of a legislative body, gave a moving presentation yesterday in support of SB 1172.

Watch the video above and visit to learn more and take action to support this bill yourself. speaker john perez


SB 1172: A Call to Action

August 27, 2012 By Sarah Thomsen

sb 1172 field staffDespite significant progress made in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement, there are those in society who continue to perceive homosexuality as temporary, or even “curable.” This state of mind is demeaning to the LGBT community and offers false justification to at least 24 clinics across California where sexual orientation conversion efforts still take place. These modern-day clinics are run by licensed mental health providers who attempt to change the sexual orientation of minors from gay to straight. The psychological stress that can result from youth being led to believe they have a “mental illness” is disturbing, particularly when unknowing parents send their children to these clinics.

Soon, however, California may be the first state in the nation to ban such discriminatory practices. Senate Bill 1172 (SB 1172) co-sponsored by Equality California, would ban licensed mental health providers from subjecting minors to sexual orientation conversion efforts. The California Senate approved SB 1172 back in May, and I had the opportunity to attend a hearing in June where an Assembly committee further approved the bill. Now with an upcoming vote on the Assembly floor, I must say I am proud to have been a part of Equality California’s field work that has furthered awareness for SB 1172.

The field work surrounding SB 1172 has offered California’s citizens a chance to lend their voices to government action. EQCA’s Northern and Southern California offices took part in Pride celebrations throughout the summer and in the process collected 8,200 signatures from constituents urging Assembly members to vote in favor of the bill. Perhaps most encouraging, however, has been the enthusiasm of individuals who have personally reached out to their elected officials.

For the past week, Equality California’s staff, interns, and volunteers called constituents in districts with undecided representatives. During these conversations, callers urged proponents of SB 1172 to be directly transferred to their legislatures’ offices where they voiced their support. During my time calling, I quickly found that people were not only willing to be transferred to their representatives; they were unabashedly eager. The dedication of the callers and the passion of the constituents resulted in over 1,000 calls made to legislators’ offices.

This collaboration has been essential in spreading the word about SB 1172 and will continue to be essential as we approach next week’s vote. If you have not informed your legislator about your position on SB 1172, please state your support now. Now is a crucial moment for this piece of legislation, and we cannot back down. We must set a precedent for the rest of our nation by banning this discriminatory practice and, ultimately, keeping our youth safe