FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2007
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Governor Signs Six LGBT Bills, Secures Protections for LGBT Youth
EQCA-Sponsored Bills Create Safeguards for All Youth, Entire LGBT Community
SACRAMENTO - Six bills protecting and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians were signed on Friday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor put his signature on six of eight bills sponsored by Equality California this year, including two youth measures that provide important protections for students and LGBT youth. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed similar youth bills last year.
"While we are very pleased the governor signed the majority of EQCA's bills this year, we are extremely disappointed that he vetoed one of the most important bills the Legislature sent him," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "Despite his veto of the marriage legislation, the six bills that were signed will improve the lives of millions of LGBT Californians and their families."
EQCA sponsored a record 10 pieces of legislation in 2007, the most comprehensive agenda ever sponsored by a statewide or national LGBT organization. All 10 bills were passed by the Legislature. The governor vetoed AB 43, legislation that would have given same-sex couples in California the right to marry. He has yet to take action on SB 518, which would create essential protections for LGBT youth residing in California's juvenile justice facilities.
The two youth bills the governor signed include the Student Civil Rights Act and the Safe Place to Learn Act. The Student Civil Rights Act (SB 777), authored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, protects students from harassment and bullying in public schools by making sure teachers and school administrators fully understand their responsibilities to protect youth. The Safe Place to Learn Act (AB 394), authored by Assemblymember Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, further strengthens youth protections by ensuring that the state's nondiscrimination policies are rigorously enforced.
"We appreciate the Administration's willingness to work with Equality California, key legislators and the community this year to ensure protections for LGBT students," Kors said. "Equality California urges the governor to sign EQCA's third youth bill of 2007, a high-priority measure that will protect LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system."
As part of a multi-year overhaul of the state's civil rights laws, EQCA sponsored the Civil Rights Act of 2007 (AB 14), authored by Assemblymember John Laird, D-Santa Cruz. This bill bans discrimination in government services based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Combined with three other nondiscrimination bills that were signed into law during the past four years, the Civil Rights Act of 2007 gives Californians the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation.
With the bills signed into law today, California's registered domestic partners will be able choose a common family name when they register with the state. The Name Equality Act (AB 102), authored by Assemblymember Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, also makes it easier for a husband to take his wife's last name upon marriage. Earlier this week the governor signed a measure that simplifies the process for domestic partners filing their 2007 state income tax returns next year by creating a simple worksheet to calculate their joint income from their separate federal returns. This legislation was necessary because federal law does not treat California domestic partners equally to spouses. The Joint Income Tax Filing Implementation Bill (SB 105) was authored by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco.
EQCA also sponsored the Fair and Equal Taxation for Surviving Partners Act (SB 559), authored by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego. That legislation reverses discriminatory tax increases for domestic partners whose partner died before a 2006 law went into effect protecting them against unfair property reassessments.
EQCA's two resolutions call on the federal government to recall the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and to strengthen the nation's hate crimes law to include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. The resolutions are authored by Sen. Kehoe and Assemblymember Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, respectively.
"I am extremely proud of Equality California's staff, board, countless volunteers and the many lawmakers and allied organizations who have worked tirelessly on advancing these bills" Kors said. "California continues to set the example for the rest of the country in enacting protections for all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. We have demonstrated that by moving forward as a united community we can achieve extraordinary results."
For more information about EQCA's sponsored legislation, visit the online Legislative Center .
Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Please visit our website at eqca.org.
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