In Equality California’s 20th anniversary year, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization has introduced its most aggressive, robust package of pro-equality legislation yet. The organization’s priorities include a number of first-in-the-nation bills and are primarily focused on supporting LGBTQ youth and families, increasing access to HIV prevention medication and protecting the civil rights of transgender and intersex Californians.
Equality California is sponsoring the following 2019 bills and resolutions in the California Legislature and has experts available for comment or background briefings:
Safe and Supportive Schools Act – AB 493 by Assemblymember Todd Gloria and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony ThurmondAB 493 will give teachers and school staff the tools and training they need — and want — to support LGBTQ students who may be facing harassment or lack of acceptance at school, rejection at home or discrimination in the broader community. Public school teachers and staff are on the front lines of providing a safety net against the effects of discrimination and lack of acceptance for the LGBTQ community, which can result in higher dropout rates, lower economic success and a number of other disparities in health and well-being that LGBTQ people continue to face. If LGBTQ students have support in school, their likelihood of overcoming these disparities and succeeding in school and life increases significantly. Equality California is cosponsoring AB 493 with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
Status: Passed by the Assembly Education Committee 5-0. Referred to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
LGBTQ Young People Nondiscrimination – SB 145 by Senator Scott Wiener and LA County District Attorney Jackie LaceySB 145 will address the state’s discriminatory practice of treating LGBTQ young people differently than their non-LGBTQ peers when engaging in voluntary sexual activity. Currently, for example, if an 18-year-old boy has voluntary sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, he isn’t required to register as a sex offender. But if an 18-year-old boy has voluntary sex with his 17-year-old boyfriend or an 18-year-old girl has voluntary sex with her 17-year-old girlfriend, they’re automatically required to register as sex offenders, no matter the circumstances and without any opportunity for a judge to provide discretionary relief from the requirement. SB 145 only applies when a teenager age 14 or older has consensual sex with a partner who is within 10 years of age. The bill will simply allow the older partner to request — and a judge to grant — relief from the registration requirement. Equality California is cosponsoring SB 145 along with Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
Status: Referred to the Senate Public Safety Committee. Scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, April 9.
PrEP and PEP Access Expansion – SB 159 by Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Todd GloriaSB 159 will reduce barriers to accessing HIV preventative medications. This legislation will authorize pharmacists to furnish pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to patients without a prescription. Pharmacists are already authorized to furnish birth control pills without a prescription. The legislation will also prohibit insurance companies from requiring patients to obtain prior authorization before using their insurance benefits to obtain PrEP or PEP. Equality California is cosponsoring SB 159 along with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the Los Angeles LGBT Center and California Pharmacists Association.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development.
Intersex Autonomy – SB 201 by Senator Scott WienerSB 201 will protect the rights of intersex Californians — “intersex” being a term used for people born with variations in their sex characteristics — by ensuring they can provide informed consent before medically unnecessary, often irreversible and potentially harmful procedures are performed on them. SB 201, at its core, is about giving people born with variations in their sex characteristics autonomy over their own bodies. The bill does not prohibit treatment or surgery when it is medically necessary; it will simply delay elective surgeries that often performed on babies in an attempt to “normalize” their bodies until they have the ability to make their own informed decision. Equality California is cosponsoring SB 201 along with interACT and the ACLU of California.
Status: Testimony heard by Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development on Monday, April 1. Scheduled for vote on Monday, April 8.
Homeless Youth Grant Program – AB 307 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes and Senator Scott WienerAB 307 will require the development and administration of a grant program that would, primarily, support nonprofit organizations or continuum of care administrative entities in serving youth experiencing homelessness. Funding will go toward an array of supportive services, including rental assistance, drug abuse prevention, health care and employment assistance. All programs funded under AB 307 will be required to have the cultural competence to serve youth who identify as LGBTQ. Equality California is cosponsoring AB 307 along with the California Coalition for Youth, Tipping Point Community, John Burton Advocates for Youth, Housing CA and Corporation for Supportive Housing.
Status: Passed by the Assembly Human Services Committee 8-0. Referred to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
Affirming Records – SB 741 by Senator Cathleen GalgianiSB 741 will update the law to allow transgender Californians to update their marriage certificates and the birth certificates of their children to accurately reflect their legal name and gender, while still protecting their privacy. Current state law allows transgender people to petition courts to change their legal name and gender to conform with their gender identity. The law then allows such a person’s old birth certificate to be sealed and a new one issued as an original to protect the person’s privacy and respect their identity. This legislation would simply align the process for updating transgender people’s marriage certificates and the birth certificates of their children with the process for updating their own birth certificate. This will help to prevent discrimination when a transgender person enrolls their child in school, applies for a loan or seeks to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated spouse.
Status: Referred to Senate Rules Committee.
Bias-Free Child Custody Determinations – SB 495 by Senator Maria Elena Durazo
SB 495 will add language to the California Family Code to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity of a parent, legal guardian or relative when granting custody of a child. While there are examples of California case law to the effect that “sexual preference” should not affect child custody determinations, this language is outdated, unclear, and has not been codified within the California Family Code. This lack of clear and comprehensive policy allows local Family Court mediators, investigators, and judges to make recommendations and rulings based on their own biases about how sexuality and gender may impact the “well-being of the child.” All parents deserve the right to be considered in matters of custody without their sexual orientation or gender identity being used against them. Equality California is cosponsoring SB 495 with the Women’s Policy Institute and the Long Beach Bar Association.
Status: Passed by Senate Judiciary Committee.
Updating Transgender Students’ Academic Records – AB 711 by Assemblymember David ChiuAB 711 will ensure that local educational agencies in California update the records of former students who identify as transgender, making certain that their legal name and gender are accurately reflected on critical documents like high school diplomas and school transcripts. This includes reissuing high school diplomas and high school equivalency certificates, as needed. This bill seeks to close a gap in current law to ensure that all transgender people who have attended California educational institutions have the same rights and protections. Equality California is cosponsoring AB 711 with Transgender Law Center.
Status: Referred to the Assembly Committee on Education
Strengthening California’s Equal Pay Act – AB 758 by Assemblymember Wendy CarrilloAB 758 will strengthen California’s equal pay laws by requiring that employees of all genders are paid equitably to their counterparts for substantially similar work. This bill will also address unjustified workplace pay differentials for employees who do not conform to the gender binary. California’s Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying an employee less than an employee of “the opposite sex” for substantially similar work. AB 758 will update the California Equal Pay Act’s outdated binary language to align with the Gender Recognition Act of 2017 (SB 179, Atkins), which enabled Californians to obtain state issued identity documents that reflect their gender identity by creating a third, nonbinary gender marker.
Status: Referred to Assembly Committee on Labor & Employment.
Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act – SB 132 by Senator Scott Wiener SB 132 addresses a very real problem facing incarcerated transgender individuals, namely, transgender people being housed according to their birth-assigned gender, not their gender identity or perception of safety, resulting in significant risk of violence. Transgender women housed in male facilities face particular risk of rape and assault. SB 132 will change state law to require incarcerated transgender people in the custody of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation be classified and housed based on their gender identity, unless the incarcerated person’s evaluation of their own safety is that another housing placement is safest. SB 132 also requires that the preferred first name, gender pronoun and honorific of the incarcerated individual be used by facility staff in all written and verbal communications. By housing incarcerated transgender people based on their gender identity or perception of health and safety, transgender people will be housed in institutions that decrease their likelihood of experiencing targeting and violence, and they will have access to the programming and work opportunities that will best promote and support their health and safety.
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Public Safety. Scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, April 23.
Honoring Bayard Rustin – ACR 27 by Assemblymember Wendy CarrilloACR 27 honors the legacy of civil rights, labor and LGBTQ leader Bayard Rustin. Born on March 17, 1912 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Rustin dedicated his entire life to advancing justice and dignity for all. He was a close advisor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., organized the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and promoted equity through nonviolent protests. An openly gay African American, Rustin understood the intricate intersections of marginalized identities and fought tirelessly for progress and opportunity.Status: Adopted by the Legislature on March 19, 2019.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org