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September 24, 2009

Equality California Finds Confirmation of Poochigian for State Appellate Court Appalling

Governor's appointee opposes equal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians

San Francisco -- Equality California was appalled with the confirmation today of Charles Poochigian for a seat on the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno. The Commission on Judicial Appointments, a three-member panel, including Attorney General Jerry Brown, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George and James A. Ardaiz, the 5th District's presiding justice, voted today in San Francisco to confirm Gov. Schwarzenegger's nominee.

In his testimony before the panel today, Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors said:

"The fact that the Judicial Nominations Committee of the State Bar that is charged with evaluating the qualifications of judicial nominees found Senator Poochigian 'Not Qualified' is reason alone to not confirm him to the bench. The fact that the National Organization for Women-California Chapter and other groups are opposed to his appointment due to his dismal record on issues pertaining to the rights of women, people of color and workers is reason alone to not confirm him to the bench. But when those factors are added to his strong animus towards LGBT people and people with disabilities and his desire to limit access to the courts for some of the most vulnerable members of our state, the case against his appointment becomes overwhelming...

As a minority group, LGBT Californians are reliant upon the courts to preserve and articulate our rights, not just with respect to recognition of our relationships, but in housing and employment discrimination, prosecution of hate crimes, parenting, education, and other critical areas. Senator Poochigian, through his voting record, has already demonstrated that he does not believe LGBT Californians are deserving of even the most basic rights -- in stark contrast to the California Supreme Court's ruling that lesbian and gay people are a suspect class and its requirement that laws impacting people based on their sexual orientation are to receive the highest level of scrutiny. How could we reasonably rely on him as a justice to treat LGBT litigants fairly and uphold the equal protection guarantee of the Constitution, to which all Californians are entitled regardless of their sexual orientation?"

Poochigian's voting record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the California Legislature was abysmal. He consistently scored 0% on EQCA's legislative scorecards. While serving in the State Senate, he opposed every major LGBT bill, including: AB 1001 (Villaraigosa), which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation; AB 537 (Kuehl), which protected LGBT students from harassment and violence in public schools; and AB 25 (Migden), which established the most basic rights and responsibilities for same-sex domestic partners. Poochigian also declined to meet with Equality California despite requests every year he was in office.