How do you define “success?” By one of our measures, it’s the legislative season that just finished. Before California Governor Jerry Brown finally put a cap on his pen on October 11 – the deadline for him to sign bills sent to him by the legislature – he’d signed every piece of legislation sponsored by Equality California in 2015.
The final EQCA priority bill signed into law on that day was Senate Bill (SB) 731. Authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by EQCA, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center, it keeps transgender kids safe in foster care by requiring social service workers to take their gender identity into account before placing them in a potentially hostile situation.
The week before, the governor signed five of our sponsored bills, four of them on one single afternoon. Assembly Bill AB 959, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu, requires state health and social services agencies to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity whenever demographic data is collected. Collecting this data helps address LGBT disparities in health and well-being and determine whether government programs successfully reach those in need. AB 960, also authored by Chiu, updates California’s assisted reproduction laws to recognize intended parents using assisted reproduction, whether or not a medical professional is involved. AB 827, authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, provides resources and information to aid teachers in identifying and assisting LGBT students in need of support in dealing with bullying or lack of social acceptance. SB 703, authored by Leno, requires contractors doing business with state agencies to offer transgender employees the same healthcare coverage offered to all other workers. And AB 329 updates the state’s sexual health and HIV prevention curriculum to provide instruction that is more up-to-date, comprehensive and inclusive of LGBT people and their families.
Earlier in the summer, Governor Brown signed AB 827, which bans discrimination against potential jurors based on gender identity, and in September, the legislature passed Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 16, which calls on President Obama to work towards an end to the discriminatory federal blood donation ban on gay and bisexual men.
These pieces of legislation all have one thing in common: they all help address some of the numerous disparities still facing our community when compared to the broader population in health, employment, housing and so many other settings. Equality California is committed to the health, well-being and full equality of LGBT Californians. Stay tuned in January as we announce our 2016 legislative package!