FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2009
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LGBT Domestic Violence Services Bill Passes Key Committee Vote
Bill Sponsored by EQCA and Authored by Assembly Member Pérez Moves Forward in State Assembly
Sacramento -- The LGBT Domestic Violence Services Bill took one step closer to becoming law today when it passed the California State Assembly Public Safety Committee by a 5-2 margin. The bill, AB 1003, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced last month by Assemblymember John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) will increase and expand services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) survivors of domestic violence.
"There is a shortage of adequate care for our community," said Perez. "We must take whatever steps we can to ensure that all LGBT survivors of domestic violence have access to culturally competent services and resources."
Rates of domestic violence in same-sex relationships are equivalent to those in opposite-sex relationships. However, support for LGBT survivors continues to lag far behind those available to non-LGBT couples.
An anonymous student from Los Angeles laments on her own experience first seeking help saying, "I felt helpless and alone in trying to turn for LGBT specific domestic violence services. I obtained counseling in school and the counselor was clueless about my experiences as a lesbian."
The LGBT Domestic Violence Services Bill is designed to correct this inequity by expanding access for LGBT service providers to a state fund within the California Emergency Management Agency, which supports LGBT-specific domestic violence programs across the state. The fund, originally established as part of another EQCA-sponsored bill in 2006, is subsidized by a $23 fee on domestic partner registrations. The new bill also eliminates the requirement for providers to offer shelter -- an impediment to many smaller LGBT organizations that inadvertently keeps several California communities from providing any services for LGBT survivors of domestic violence.
"This new bill will help us expand innovative and proven program models already being pioneered by LGBT centers and organizations across the state," said Geoff Kors, Executive Director of EQCA. "Now more people will have more access to the services they need. After all, we all deserve a place where we feel comfortable and safe."
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org