Sacramento—Nearly 300 LGBTQ advocates, people living with HIV and allies met with various legislators at the California Capitol today as part of Equality California’s LGBTQ Advocacy Day, in support of 11 bills that form Equality California’s 2017 legislative package.
LGBTQ Advocacy Day was co-sponsored by the California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, Equality California, Lambda Legal, GSA Network, ACLU of Southern California, APLA Health, San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Positive Women’s Network – USA, with the support of dozens of other LGBTQ and allied organizations across the state.
“In light of the Trump Administration’s attacks on the LGBT community, it’s understandable to feel uncertain or afraid. But now more than ever we have to work together to promote hope and unity, resist hate, and defend the gains we have made,” said Assemblymember Evan Low, Chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. “The LGBT Caucus is committed to promoting equality and resisting efforts to roll back the protections we have fought so hard to achieve.”
“The Trump Administration presents a frightening vision of America and an unprecedented threat to LGBTQ civil rights,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “It’s more important now than ever for California to safeguard and expand legal protections for LGBTQ people and vulnerable people everywhere, and to be a beacon of tolerance and inclusion for the rest of the country.”
This year’s Equality California-sponsored bills address LGBTQ disparities for youth, in healthcare, in the criminal justice system and in other areas. Three bills address hate crimes or discrimination in the criminal justice system against people living with HIV. SB 239, by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would modernize California’s archaic laws which criminalize and stigmatize people living with HIV. AB 800, authored by Asm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco), would establish a hotline to report hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents and provide information to support targeted communities. AB 1161, authored by Asm. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would require local law enforcement agencies to update their policies on hate crimes and provide guidance to strengthen those policies.
Two bills facilitate official changes of name or gender for transgender Californians, and access to official identification that accurately reflects their gender identity. SB 179, by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) would enable transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to obtain state-issued identity documents that accurately reflect their gender identity and create a third, “nonbinary,” gender option. SB 310, also by Atkins, would establish the right of transgender people incarcerated in state prisons or county jails to petition the court directly to change their legal name or gender marker. The bill requires corrections officials to use the new name of a person who obtains a name change, and to list the prior name only as an alias.
SB 219, by Wiener, addresses the health and wellbeing of vulnerable LGBTQ seniors. It would strengthen nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities, ensuring, among other things, that caretakers use their preferred names and pronouns and that patients are not denied admission or discharged due to sexual orientation or gender identity.
AB 1318, by Chiu, would reduce school bullying by providing training, tools and resources to help school employees to address conflicts on campus, as well as by increasing communication and awareness about diversity throughout campus communities.
AB 677, also by Chiu, directs ten agencies focusing on education and employment to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity whenever additional demographic data is collected. Collecting this data helps to reduce disparities, ensure that educational programs are responsive to the needs of LGBT youth, and improve access to employment for LGBT workers.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org