Legislation Would Ensure California Meets the Needs of LGBT Communities and California’s Modern Families
SACRAMENTO – Today, Equality California and Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) introduced Assembly Bills 959 and 960 which address concerns voiced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities regarding services overseen by state agencies and equal protections for our families.
AB 959, the LGBT Disparities Reduction Act, requires specific state agencies to collect voluntary information about sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in the regular course of collecting other types of demographic data. AB 960, the Equal Protection for All Families Act, modernizes the state’s assisted reproduction laws to ensure all couples using assisted reproduction are fully recognized as parents.
“These new bills are crucial to advancing equality for LGBT Californians,” said Rick Zbur, Equality California executive director. “The LGBT Disparities Reduction Act aims to address the substantial health and well-being disparities between LGBT people and the broader community. Having government agencies collect information about sexual orientation and gender identity, as they do on other important characteristics, is necessary to assure that LGBT community needs are being met. The Equal Protection for All Families Act builds on earlier efforts to make all families equal in California. No matter how they conceive, LGBT parents using assisted reproduction should be recognized equally as parents, and that is what this does. We applaud Assemblymember Chiu for advancing two of Equality California’s highest priority bills.”
The rallying call for improved data collection about LGBT communities has only grown louder in the last few years. This pervasive exclusion of LGBT communities, among other issues, recently prompted Equality California Institute to host the Fair Share for Equality Convening, a gathering of over one hundred organizations, community leaders, healthcare experts and educators. As discussed in the Fair Share for Equality report following the convening, LGBT people face significant disparities in their health and well-being compared to the broader community, resulting from long-term systematic discrimination and social bias. These disparities include disproportionately high rates of poverty, suicide, homelessness, isolation, substance abuse, violence, police profiling, and criminal convictions, and low rates of health insurance, among other things. These problems are more pronounced for our youth and seniors, communities of color, and the transgender and undocumented communities.
“I am proud to introduce AB 959 to end systematic discrimination that has prolonged a myriad of disparities in health, housing and social services in LGBT communities due to their exclusion from the state’s data collection,” said Assemblymember David Chiu. “California can’t deliver these critical services if we don’t know where the gaps lie.”
AB 960, or the Equal Protection for All Families Act, modernizes California assisted reproduction laws to protect families using assisted reproduction. Current law puts intended parents using assisted reproduction and their children at risk due to the discrepancy in parental rights.
“LGBT couples and modern families are invisible in California’s family law because of outdated assisted reproduction laws,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “AB 960 will treat them equally by giving all couples, married or not, the opportunity to grow their family in California. Fully understanding LGBT communities and recognizing California’s modern families is long overdue.”
“This bill recognizes that all families formed through assisted reproduction deserve the same legal protections,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “It shouldn’t matter if parents are married or not or what kind of assisted reproduction they used to have children – a family is a family.”
“This bill is about protecting children,” said Judy Appel executive director of Our Family Coalition. “When I had my kids, we had to save up our money until we could afford to go to a medical clinic, which was heartbreaking. This bill will create legal stability for our children of low income families who can’t afford the high costs of fertility clinics. It is a step further in true equality for LGBT people who have families, the very fabric of American society.”
AB 959 and AB 960 are expected to have their first policy committee hearings in late March or April.
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