Equality California Announces 2016 Legislative Package

Equality California Monday announced seven bills comprising its 2016 legislative package.

“Each of our sponsored bills advances a key portion of the mission we unveiled in 2014,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Laws surrounding HIV transmission continue to stigmatize people living with HIV and must be modernized.  LGBT people are targets of discrimination both inside and outside of California. LGBT kids are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers. Transgender and gender non-conforming people face harassment and violence, often when just trying to use the restroom. These bills begin to address these disparities in LGBT health and wellbeing, and more.”

This year, Equality California is sponsoring the following bills:

AB 2246 – Suicide Prevention Policies in Schools

AB 2246, authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), would require schools to adopt policies to give teachers the tools necessary to identify and combat teen suicide. With studies showing that LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers, this bill is of particular importance to LGBT students. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California and The Trevor Project.

SB 1408 – HIV Organ and Tissue Donation Equity

SB 1408, authored by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), would allow for organ and tissue donation between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients, bringing state law in line with federal law under the HOPE Act. Permitting donated, HIV-positive organs and tissue to be used for transplantation in HIV-positive patients has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of HIV-positive patients each year, as well as shorten the waiting list for individuals awaiting transplants. SB 1408 is co-sponsored by Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Positive Women’s Network-USA.

AB 1887 – Prevent California-Funded Travel to States with A License to Discriminate

AB 1887, authored by Asm. Evan Low (D-Campbell), would prohibit state-funded or sponsored travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that voids or repeals existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or has enacted a law that authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families on those bases. AB 1887 is co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

AB 1888 – Cal Grant Disinvestment in Discrimination

AB 1888, also authored by Asm. Low, would eliminate the use of Cal Grant funding at California academic institutions that seek waivers to allow them to discriminate against students or employees based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.  AB 1888 is co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

AB 1732 – The Equal Restroom Access Act

AB 1732, authored by Asm. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would enact the most progressive statewide restroom access policy in the nation, requiring all single-occupancy restrooms in businesses, government buildings and places of public accommodation to be available to everyone. Restricting access to single-occupancy restrooms by gender creates problems of safety, fairness, and convenience for LGBT people and many others, including families and people with disabilities. Compliance with the bill is a matter of changing a sign on a restroom door. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California, the Transgender Law Center and California NOW.

AB 1675 – Diversion Instead of Prosecution for Juvenile Victims

AB 1675, authored by Asm. Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), would ensure that minors who participate in acts of prostitution are treated as victims of sexual exploitation instead of as criminals.

Over the past few years, some lawmakers have attempted to pass draconian measures that would increase punishment for young people involved in acts of prostitution. However, criminalizing minors, many of whom engage in sex work simply to survive, continues a pattern of blaming the victim without looking at the heart of the issue. These laws disproportionately affect LGBT youth, many of whom have been forced from their homes due to lack of acceptance or even hostility from their own families and engage in sex work to survive. AB 1675 would provide the much-needed diversion and support this vulnerable population requires.  This bill is sponsored by Equality California.

SB 1005 – Modernizing Code Language to Reflect Marriage Equality

SB 1005, authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), amends various sections of California law to reflect the fact that marriage equality is now law in California, including replacing references to “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” and clarifying that “spouse” also applies to a domestic partner. This bill is sponsored by Equality California.

Equality California adopted a new mission in 2014 dedicated to achieving full equality and acceptance in California and beyond, reducing the glaring disparities in health and wellbeing that the LGBT community suffers in comparison with non-LGBT people, and creating a fair and just society for LGBT people and all the diverse communities of which we are a part. This expanded mission guides this year’s legislative package.