Before adjourning last week, the California Legislature passed the final bill of Equality California’s 2016 legislative package, a total of eight bills and resolutions sponsored by the organization to win approval since the beginning of the 2016 legislative session. Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 26 passed August 31 with a final, unanimous vote by the Senate.
“California has the world’s strongest civil rights protections for LGBT people, but gaps still remain,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “This year, each of our sponsored bills helped address an area where LGBT people still suffer discrimination and disparities in health and well-being compared to the general public. Our bills this session protect vulnerable LGBT teens, make sure religious colleges give public notice if they discriminate against LGBT students, ensure California tax dollars don’t go to states or cities that adopt new anti-LGBT laws, and more. We ask Governor Brown to sign these pieces of legislation so important to LGBT Californians.”
The governor has already signed two Equality California-sponsored bills:
SB 1408: HIV Organ and Tissue Donation Equity (Allen)
SB 1408, authored by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), permits organ and tissue donation between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients. Permitting organ and tissue donation from HIV-positive donors for transplant in HIV-positive patients has the potential to save hundreds of lives each year. SB 1408 is co-sponsored by Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Positive Women’s Network-USA.
SB 1005: Modernizing Code Language to Reflect Marriage Equality (Jackson)
SB 1005, authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), amends various code sections to accurately reflect current law with respect marriage equality. Marriage equality is the law of the land in California, but that is not uniformly reflected in laws already on the books. SB 1005 is sponsored by Equality California.
In addition, the Legislature adopted two Equality California-sponsored resolutions:
SJR 26: Urging Science-Based Guidelines for Blood Donation (de León/Mayes)
SJR 26, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), makes it clear that the California Legislature joins medical and community groups in urging development of science-based guidelines for blood donation that focus on risk-assessment of individuals instead of stigmatizing standards that continue to discriminate against gay and bisexual men and transgender people. SJR 26 is sponsored by Equality California.
AJR 45: Resolution in Support of the Equality Act (Chiu)
AJR 45, authored by Asm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco), calls on Congress to enact the federal Equality Act. The Equality Act updates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide federal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system. AJR 45 is sponsored by Equality California.
An additional four bills await the governor’s signature:
SB 1146: Uncovering Discrimination in Higher Education (Lara)
SB 1146, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), would increase transparency in higher education by requiring colleges and universities to publicly disclose religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws that they claim, and allow prospective students or employees to make an informed decision about attending school or accepting employment. SB 1146 is sponsored by Equality California.
AB 2246: Suicide Prevention Policies in Schools (O’Donnell)
AB 2246, authored by Asm. Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), would require schools to adopt policies to give teachers in grades 7-12 the tools necessary to identify and combat teen suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24. Studies also have shown that LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their non-LGBT peers. AB 2246 is co-sponsored by Equality California and The Trevor Project.
AB 1887: Prevent California-Funded Travel to States with A License to Discriminate (Low)
AB 1887, authored by Asm. Evan Low (D-Campbell), would prohibit state agencies and the Legislature from approving state funded or sponsored travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a new law that voids, weakens or repeals existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. AB 1887 is co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
AB 1732: The Equal Restroom Access Act (Ting)
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. Compliance with the bill is a matter of changing a sign on a restroom door. The bill is sponsored by Equality California, the Transgender Law Center, and California NOW.
Gun safety legislation
In July, Gov. Brown signed into law six Equality California-supported gun safety bills that ban the sale of high capacity assault rifle magazines, regulate the sale and possession of ammunition, expand background checks, limit loans of firearms and ban the resale of a gun to someone legally barred from purchasing it. The new laws were supported by Equality California as part of its Safe and Equal campaign against gun violence. Equality California worked with Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and bill authors to lobby for passage of this important package that makes California’s gun safety laws the most protective in the nation.
Equality California has sponsored passage of 118 bills in the past two decades. Governor Brown has until September 30th to sign the remaining bills.