Sacramento—Eight bills sponsored by Equality California cleared their houses of origin last week in the California Legislature.
“Members of both the California Senate and Assembly this session are continuing to demonstrate their commitment to reducing the disparities in health and wellbeing affecting the LGBTQ community,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Lawmakers have advanced bills aimed at protecting LGBT seniors, making it easier for transgender and nonbinary people to get government identification that accurately reflects their gender identity, and more. We’re grateful for their support, and we look forward to the second half of the legislative session.”
The bills clearing their houses of origin are as follows:
SB 219 – Seniors Long Term Care Bill of Rights
SB 219, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), strengthens protections for LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities against discrimination, such as refusing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronoun, denying admission to a long-term care facility, transferring a resident within a facility or to another facility based on anti-LGBTQ attitudes of other residents, or evicting or involuntarily discharging a resident from a facility on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status.
SB 179 – Gender Recognition Act of 2017
SB 179, the Gender Recognition Act of 2017, authored by Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Sen. Wiener, will enable transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to obtain state-issued identity documents that accurately reflect their gender identity, making California the first state to not require people to officially identify as “male” or “female.” The bill creates a third, nonbinary gender marker on California birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, identity cards and gender-change court orders, in addition to streamlining the processes for a person to change their gender marker and name on these identifying documents. The Gender Recognition Act of 2017 is cosponsored by Equality California and Transgender Law Center.
SB 310 – Name and Dignity Act
SB 310, authored by Sen. Atkins, would help ensure that transgender people are legally recognized for who they are while incarcerated and increases the likelihood of their successful reentry into society upon release from custody. The current belabored process that an incarcerated transgender person must complete before petitioning the court to change their legal name or gender marker often results in improper denials or no resolution to requests. SB 310 establishes 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 310 is cosponsored by Equality California, St. James Infirmary, the Transgender Gender-Variant Intersex Justice Project, Transgender Law Center, the Western Regional Advocacy Project, the Women’s Foundation of California and the Women’s Policy Institute.
SB 421 – Tiered System for California Sex Offender Registry
SB 421, authored by Sen. Wiener, would replace California’s existing universal lifetime registration requirement for sex offenses with a tiered system based on the seriousness of the crime, the risk of reoffending and criminal history. There are over 100,000 registrants in California, far more than any other state, and California is one of only four states with a universal lifetime registry. Equality California is cosponsoring this bill to address the unfair circumstance of LGBTQ people who were targeted and often entrapped on charges that required registration when their actual actions hurt no one, including for simply engaging in same-sex contact when that action was criminalized in the past. These members of the LGBTQ community were required to register as sex offenders for life even though their convictions are now decades old and the law and its enforcement have changed, and the basis for many of these arrests was due to anti-LGBTQ discrimination and police entrapment. This bill would remove these people from the registry along with others in similar circumstances and put a new, efficient, risk-based system in place. This bill is cosponsored by Equality California, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, the California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA).
SB 239 – Modernizing Discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws
SB 239, authored by Sen. Wiener and Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), modernizes California laws criminalizing and stigmatizing people living with HIV to reflect current understanding of HIV prevention and treatment. This bill is supported by public health experts and advocates because laws that criminalize HIV discourage people from getting tested and from seeking treatment, which impedes public health objectives of eliminating transmission of HIV. SB 239 would make HIV subject to the laws that apply to other serious communicable diseases. The bill is cosponsored by the Equality California, ACLU of California, APLA Health, Black AIDS Institute, Lambda Legal and Positive Women’s Network – USA.
SB 488 – Diversity in the Insurance Industry
SB 488, by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), would expand existing law to include LGBT-owned and veteran-owned businesses on the list of diverse product and service suppliers for insurers, as well as codify the governing board diversity survey, and extend the supplier diversity survey to January 1, 2025. Current law does not capture LGBT-owned and veteran-owned businesses on the supplier diversity survey. SB 488 adds both categories to make this successful initiative more inclusive of California’s diverse businesses and further increase awareness about the importance of diversity in the insurance industry.
AB 677 – Reducing LGBT Disparities in Education and Employment
AB 677, by Asm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco), directs seven 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.
AB 1556 –Fair Employment and Housing Act Clarification
AB 1556, by Asm. Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), would amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act to remove gendered terms such as “female,” “she,” and “her” from statutory provisions for pregnancy-related employment protections, and replace them with gender-neutral terms such as “person” or “employee.” These changes ensure that transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people are reflected in these protections and know that they can rely on them to meet their health needs if they become pregnant or have related medical conditions during the course of their employment.
The bills now advance to either the Assembly or Senate for full consideration by September 15.
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