Equality California Sponsors Advocacy Day in the California Capitol

Dozens of LGBT activists and allies fanned out across the California Capitol Monday, meeting with legislators in support of ten bills that form Equality California’s 2016 legislative package and priorities.  Each of the priority bills would significantly improve the lives of LGBT Californians in various ways and stand in direct contrast to laws in North Carolina, Mississippi and elsewhere that target LGBT people for discrimination.

“We are heartened to see so many faces eager and willing to create a more inclusive and fair society,” said Asm. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), chair of the LGBT Legislative Caucus. “The LGBT community is often at the frontlines of progress and we, as members of the LGBT Caucus, rely on their input and support to continue effecting change here in California and across the country. Marriage equality was a huge victory for our community, but recent events remind us why LGBT advocacy is more important than ever. Our movement towards equality has been and will continue to be a grassroots effort. And these participants show us that we are in good hands.”

“As North Carolina, Mississippi and other states enact regressive laws that target the most basic freedoms of LGBT people, look what we are doing together in California,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur at a morning rally outside the Capitol.  “In this legislative session alone, the bills making their way through the legislature make it clear that our state is heading in a different direction.”

Two of the bills specifically address challenges facing the transgender community.  AB 1732, by Asm. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would require that existing single-stall restrooms be labeled as “all-gender”.  AB 1887, by Asm. Evan Low (D-Campbell), would ban state-funded travel by California state employees to jurisdictions with laws in place that discriminate against LGBT people.

AB 1888, also by Low, would deny Cal Grant funding to colleges and universities that seek a waiver on religious grounds for federal anti-discrimination protections.  SB 1146, by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach), would require those institutions to disclose that intent to discriminate to potential applicants.

Two other Equality California-sponsored bills save lives.  AB 2246, by Asm. Patrick O’Donnell, would require schools statewide to have a suicide prevention policy in place to get teachers the materials and support they need to identify at-risk students.  SB 1408, by Sen. Ben Allen, (D-Redondo Beach), would allow organ and tissue donations between HIV positive donors and HIV positive recipients.

LGBT Advocacy Day was co-sponsored by the California LGBT Legislative Caucus, Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal.