FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 30, 2005
Contact: Eddie Gutiérrez, Director of Communications
Phone: (323) 217-8875 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY VOTES TO PROTECT DOMESTIC PARTNER RETIRMENT BENEFITS FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
With Two LGBT Rights Bills on Governor’s Desk, Equal Marriage Rights Bill Likely to Be Heard Tomorrow
Sacramento, CA — The Assembly voted 47-32 to pass legislation that will protect the domestic partners of public employees from losing state retirement benefits upon the death of their partner. Senate Bill (SB) 973, authored by LGBT Caucus Chair Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) and sponsored by Equality California, will allow domestic partners of public employees who retired prior to January 1, 2005, when Assembly Bill (AB) 205, California's comprehensive domestic partnership law went into effect, to receive death benefits if the retiree dies before their partner. The bill now heads for a Senate floor vote and then to the Governor’s desk for signature.
“I’m very pleased that my colleagues supported this bill, which simply provides fairness for retired domestic partners,” said Senator Sheila Kuehl.
“After a lifetime of public service, legally recognized domestic partners, who are public employees, need piece of mind that their families will have long-term security and protections,” said Executive Director Geoffrey Kors of Equality California. “Death and loss are never easy, and the last thing domestic partners should worry about is the unintentional but compounded suffering of California’s current law. Public employees should be able to pass along their retirement benefits regardless of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.”
AB 205 grants many rights to registered same-sex couples. One of these rights is community property, which includes pensions. SB 973 carries through the original intent of this legislation to reduce discrimination against registered domestic partners by making sure they are treated equally under the law.
In addition, Equality California currently has two lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights bills that have passed the Legislature and await the Governor’s signature. The Assembly voted overwhelmingly 47-29 yesterday to pass Assembly Bill (AB) 1400, the Civil Rights Act of 2005, authored by Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and sponsored by Equality California. AB 1400 builds upon the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) and related provisions to clarify and reinforce that all businesses that provide services, goods, or accommodations to the public cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. Governor Schwarzenegger has 12 days to sign the bill into law, once it reaches his desk. Also, legislation designed to prevent discrimination against LGBT individuals in political campaigns is one critical step away from becoming law. Last week, the Senate approved Assembly Bill (AB) 866, authored by Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/Daly City) on a 21-12 vote. AB 866 has already reached the Governor’s desk, and a decision will be reached as early as next week.
Assembly Bill 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles), and supported by more than 30 other co-authors, will likely be voted on by the full Senate as early as tomorrow. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act will grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples and affirm the religious freedom of all Californians. If passed, the California Senate will become the first legislative body in the nation to pass equal marriage rights legislation for same-sex couples.
For more information, including regional and local spokespeople on any of these issues, please contact EQCA’s Communications Director Eddie Gutiérrez at 323-217-8875 or email at email@example.com.
ASSEMBLY FLOOR VOTE
47 AYES: (Nunez), Arambula, Baca, Bass, Berg, Bermudez, Calderon, Canciamilla, Chan, Chavez, Chu, Cohn, Coto, De La Torre, Dymally, Evans, Frommer, Goldberg, Hancock, Jerome Horton, Jones,Karnette, Klehs, Koretz, Laird, Leno, Levine, Lieber, Liu, Matthews, Montanez, Mullin, Nation, Nava, Negrete McLeod, Oropeza, Parra, Pavley, Ridley-Thomas, Ruskin, Saldana, Salinas, Torrico, Umberg, Vargas, Wolk, and Yee
32 NOES: Aghazarian, Benoit, Blakeslee, Bogh, Cogdill, Daucher, DeVore, Emmerson, Garcia, Harman, Haynes, Shirley Horton, Houston, Huff, Keene, La Malfa, La Suer, Leslie, Maze, McCarthy, Mountjoy, Nakanishi, Niello, Plescia, Richman, Sharon Runner, Spitzer, Strickland, Tran, Villines, -Walters, and Wyland
Founded in 1998, Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. We can be contacted through our website at www.eqca.org.