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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.
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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.

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

November 23, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

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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

 

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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

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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.

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

October 15, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

AIDSAWARENESS

Equality California is proud to observe National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) today. Established in 2003, NLAAD is dedicated to raising awareness about the impact HIV/AIDS has on the Latino community. The 2013 theme is “Commit to Speak”/“Comprométete a Hablar”. Every October 15th, the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, partners across the United States raise their collective voice to promote HIV/AIDS education, prevention, testing, treatment, and overall awareness for Latino communities.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the HIV infection rate among Latinos in 2009 was nearly three times as high as that of caucasians. As the Latino community grows exponentially, it is essential to address this epidemic head on if we hope to create an AIDS-free generation.

Visit the National Latino AIDS Awareness Day website to learn more (NLAAD). To find an HIV/AIDS testing site in California, click here.

 

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Harvey Milk to be Honored on U.S. Postage Stamp

October 10, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

Milk

The United States Post Office confirmed today that Harvey Milk will be the first proudly out elected official to grace a postal stamp, joining a myriad of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender icons already recognized on postage, including Tennessee Williams, Keith Haring and Willa Cather.

The stamp will reportedly feature Milk’s slogan, “Hope will never be silent.”

The decision came after a multi-year push from the LGBT community to honor Milk with a stamp.

In 2009, Equality California sponsored SB 572 which was authored by Senator Mark Leno and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown declaring May 22 Harvey Milk Day in California.

This is a tremendous honor who’s spirit is alive and well. And who says philately will get you nowhere?

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HISTORIC: Gov. Brown Signs TRUST Act

October 7, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

trustact-blog

“Make no mistake, Immigration Reform is an LGBT issue!”

That was one of the core messages highlighted by Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor at the Los Angeles Equality Awards on October 5 – the day Governor Jerry Brown signed the historic TRUST Act.

With federal efforts at immigration reform stalled, California is taking proactive steps to move it forward, at least in the Golden State. Gov. Brown’s signature will prohibit law enforcement officials from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless specified conditions are met.

“While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead. I’m not waiting,” said Gov. Brown in a statement.

What’s the connection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians? We know that LGBT people are more likely to be accosted, harassed and arrested by police for minor charges (including one case last year for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk), but that LGBT people are also more likely to be victims of crimes, including assault and domestic violence. In a recent survey of 220 transgender Latinas by the Williams Institute, 60 percent believed they had been stopped by law enforcement in the last year without breaking any law.

By ensuring that undocumented LGBT people won’t necessarily face deportation from routine, low-level law enforcement interaction, that means that LGBT people who are undocumented are more likely to report serious crimes, cooperate with law enforcement investigations and testify in court cases. It’s a victory for public safety and equity among a traditionally marginalized segment of California’s population.

The law, authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, is similar to one vetoed by Gov. Brown last year, but this version makes more explicit which crimes qualify as violent or serious, making the detainee ineligible for release. Some law enforcement officials, like Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, opposed the bill last year but supported it after Ammiano made changes.

The bill is a success for the increasingly collaborative coalition work between advocates of LGBT equality, immigrant rights and economic justice; organizations signing a letter of support included EQCA, Lambda Legal, the Transgender Law Center, Gender Justice LA, Immigration Equality, National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Out 4 Immigration, and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Transgender Student Activist Ashton Lee Takes Aim At Fringe Anti-LGBT Group For Illegal Fundraising

October 2, 2013 By Josh Steichmann
Cathrine and Ashton Lee

Cathrine and Ashton Lee

Remember Ashton Lee, the 16-year-old boy from Manteca who delivered 5,700 signatures to Governor Brown asking that he sign the School Success and Opportunity Act, which clarifies protections for transgender students?

Monday, Ashton and his mother, Catherine Lee, filed a complaint with the California Attorney General’s office, asking for an investigation into the Capitol Resource Institute, a fringe anti-LGBT group dedicated to undermining protections for LGBT people. They were behind Prop. 8, as well as the failed attempts to remove LGBT history from public schools. Now they’re back, attempting to repeal the School Success and Opportunity Act. Specifically, they’re fundraising for a repeal effort.

But the IRS yanked CRI’s tax-exempt status back in February because the CRI hadn’t filed any paperwork in over three years. Oops.

In a press release, Ashton said: “It troubles us that this group, which is sending out emails asking for money to overturn a law, the School Success and Opportunity Act, that just makes sure students like me can participate in school, is doing so illegally. Our lives are directly harmed on a daily basis by the work they are doing to attack our rights and opportunities.”

Upon hearing about Ashton’s empowering advocacy, EQCA executive director John O’Connor said: “After years of failing to defeat other LGBT nondiscrimination protections, it is sad that these fringe groups are using their resources — illegally — to target vulnerable students. It is an inspiration to see that Ashton is not so vulnerable and has taken great initiative to organize and take action with his heroically supportive mother.”

And the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, who were first approached by the Lees: “We are so proud to see Ashton, a young person who legally and honestly fought for the opportunity to succeed in school, stand up to these fringe groups who have lied to the public in their attempt to bully him and transgender students across the state,” said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

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Mayor who Signed LGBT Pride Month Proclamation Removed From Office in Porterville

September 19, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

After a 3-2 city council vote, Virginia Gurrola and Pete McCracken, former Porterville mayor and vice-mayor respectively, were removed from office and replaced by other members of the council. Former councilmember Cameron J. Hamilton now serves as mayor.

The three-member majority of Hamilton, Brian Ward and Greg Shelton are the same three-member majority who voted in July to rescind Gurrola’s proclamation of June as LGBT Pride Month in Porterville.

Porterville was the only city in California to issue an official resolution of support for Prop. 8 in 2008. Cameron Hamilton and Brian Ward were on the council then and voted in support of that resolution.

The three council members who voted to remove Gurrola and McCracken have not stated why they removed the mayor and vice-mayor, though Hamilton denies it had anything to do with LGBT issues. “If the LGBT community thinks that, then that’s just what they’re going to have to think,” Hamilton told ABC Action News.

Mayor Gurrola believes that the underlining issue was the LGBT proclamation.

“To remove somebody from a position is in effect saying you aren’t doing the job we want you to do…they need to clearly say why they’re removing you,” said Gurrola.

EQCA thanks Gurrola for standing up in support of the city’s LGBT community and acknowledging their vast contributions. We are closely monitoring the situation.

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LGBT Data Collection Bill Advances to Governor

September 17, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

ab1208-01We know from various studies that health disparities impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are real, but we cannot work to address those health disparities effectively until we begin collecting data about who we are and what unique health challenges we face. Last week, the California legislature took an important step to help correct this shortfall by advancing Assembly Bill 1208, an LGBT data collection bill authored by Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan and sponsored by Equality California.

The bill, which earned bipartisan support, will result in valuable public health data by adding voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the application Californian’s complete for insurance affordability programs. There is currently no way to gather demographic information about LGBT Californians on these forms.

“As a physician, health services researcher, and advocate for LGBT rights, I have striven to eliminate health disparities and expand access to health care,” said Dr. Pan. “I urge the Governor to sign AB1208 so California will have the data needed to inform efforts to improve access and assure equality in health care for the LGBT community.”

AB 1208 will help California lead the way in answering the national call for more information on disparities in access to health care for the LGBT community.  By including optional questions on the standardized application Californians complete for insurance affordability programs regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, new data will be collected that can help guide efforts to increase health care equality in California and nationally. This bill will also help reduce health disparities by allowing better tracking of populations who are not enrolling in subsidized and low-cost programs and targeting outreach and enrollment to them. If signed by the Governor, the bill will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

On Wednesday, September 18, health advocates including EQCA will hold a press conference at the State Capitol asking Governor Jerry Brown to sign this critical piece of legislation.

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