Connect with us

Local

LGBT advocates optimistic about remaining bills in California Legislature

Legislative session ends Friday with lots of bills on deck

Published

on

Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, Tony Thurmond, and Evan Low, all of whom have LGBT-related bills this session. Photo screen grab from EQCA/LGBT Legislative Caucus press conference in Sacramento Aug. 20, 2018.

With days remaining before the conclusion of California’s legislative session on Friday, August 31, the fate of at least 12 measures that concern the state’s LGBT community remains uncertain. Advocates are hopeful, though, that a string of recent victories will signal favorable outcomes. 

Equality California, along with other national and statewide LGBT groups, is encouraged by the success of several of the bills the organization has sponsored, two of which were signed into law over the past few months. At the same time, however, the well-funded opposition from the Christian Right, which enjoys close ties with the Trump-Pence Administration, has marshaled considerable resources in hopes of defeating pro-LGBT measures in California.  

Among the most-watched pieces of legislation under consideration is California Assembly Bill 2943 by Assemblymember and Legislative LGBT Caucus Chair Evan Low, which would render the sale or advertisement of sexual orientation change efforts—“conversion therapy”—illegal under the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act. Following a 5-2 committee vote in favor, the bill awaits a concurrence vote on the Assembly Floor to rule on amendments from the Senate.

Opponents pooled more than 40 people to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to chronicle their “success” in overcoming same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria with religious counseling. While these efforts ultimately failed to win over the committee, Associated Press reporter Sophia Bollag said during an interview with Pastor Ken Williams, “This is the longest ever public comment hearing I’ve ever seen in the Capitol. It wasn’t a small minority of people who came here today—they came from across the state.” 

Conservative religious groups like the James Dobson Family Institute (JDFI) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) dedicated considerable resources to defeating AB 2943, using arguments concerning “parental rights” and “religious freedom” to defend “conversion therapy.” In a July 26 panel discussion held in Washington, DC, representatives from powerful and politically conservative organizations—including JFDI and ADF—warned against the implications of California’s proposed ban on “conversion therapy” and the bill’s contextualization of the practice as consumer fraud. Speaking about Monday’s White House dinner with conservative, anti-LGBT evangelical leaders, President Trump seemed to echo the message, asserting the days of government undermining religious liberty are over.  

Meanwhile, LGBT groups have cheered the passage of several important bills that have perhaps earned less attention. On Tuesday, EQCA and Interact Advocates for Intersex Youth, among other groups, celebrated the success of what marks the first legislation in the United States that protects the rights of intersex people. Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 110 will require medical practitioners in California to delay cosmetic genital surgeries on intersex children until they reach an age at which they are capable of making an informed decision.

Also passed this week was another bill that will affect LGBT youth in California, AB 2291 by Assemblymember David Chiu, which requires public schools to provide yearly training on bullying and cyberbullying in modules the California Department of Education must publish online. The legislation is sponsored by EQCA, the Advancement Project California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, and Council on American-Islamic Relations, California.

Pending administrative proceedings, both bills will await signatures from California Gov. Jerry Brown.

On August 24, Brown signed AB 2719 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, legislation that recognizes the needs of LGBT older adults and helps to ensure their access to services and support. That bill was sponsored by EQCA and Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). And on June 13, EQCA was joined by disability rights advocates and groups, including United Cerebral Palsy and The Arc, in celebrating Brown’s signing of AB 1985 by Assemblymember Phil Ting, which offers support to local law enforcement agencies to strengthen existing policies on the prevention and prosecution of hate crimes.  

LGBT folks can encounter harassment, discrimination, and violence at the hands of police and within the criminal justice system. Two more bills awaiting consideration on the Senate floor (AB 2504) and in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (SB 990) would strengthen training of law enforcement officers in LGBT cultural competency and require staff at jails and prisons to refer to transgender detainees by their preferred gender pronouns. 

Five other bills that would broaden rights and protections for LGBT Californians are also expected to be decided by concurrence votes on the Assembly Floor this week. 

Among these is AB 2153 by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, which would equip California schools with resources and training to support LGBT students. EQCA considers this legislation an important step toward redressing the disparities in health and wellbeing encountered by LGBT youth. AB 2153 was passed by the Senate with broad bipartisan support, earning eight Republican votes

“Our public-school teachers and staff,” EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur explained, “are on the front lines of ensuring that all California children—regardless of background, zip code, sexual orientation or gender identity—have a shot at the American Dream.”  

The passage on Monday of AB 2639 by Assemblymembers Marc Berman & Patrick O’Donnell, a bill that requires schools to review and update (as necessary) suicide prevention policies at least every five years, represents another victory for LGBT youth advocates. A previous version of the legislation was included in California’s budget and signed by Brown on June 27.

Another measure aimed at supporting LGBT youth, Foster Care: Gender Affirming Health Care and Mental Health Care, AB 2119 by Assemblymember Todd Gloria,
would require child welfare agencies to ensure access to clinicians who offer gender-affirming treatment for transgender and gender non-conforming youth. The bill has earned broad support from LGBT groups and is sponsored by EQCA, the ACLU of California, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. It is awaiting a concurrence vote on the Assembly Floor.

A bill proposed by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, AB 1247, represents another measure intended to promote social services that affirm and protect California’s LGBT community. The legislation would offer training in LGBT cultural competency to private professional fiduciaries, who help older adults and people with disabilities by providing services in financial management, as well as housing and medical assistance. This bill is awaiting a concurrence vote on the Assembly Floor.

As California’s housing affordability crisis worsens, growing numbers of people in the state are experiencing homelessness—a problem that disproportionately affects LGBT folks, especially youth. LGBT people in California who experience homelessness or housing insecurity have often left the places in which they were born to find greater acceptance in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which can present hurdles if they do not have and must replace their vital records—like birth certificates—that are required to apply for government benefits, like housing assistance.

Furthermore, homeless LGBT young people in California in many cases have experienced family rejection and cannot safely return to their former homes to collect their identifying documents. Increasing Access to Identification for People Experiencing Homelessness, AB 2490 by Assemblymember David Chiu, would remove the fees that often preclude homeless Californians from requesting vital records—a measure that would improve access, too, for vulnerable LGBT communities. This bill is awaiting a concurrence vote in the Assembly.

Another bill, Establishing Services for Youth Experiencing Homelessness, SB 918 by Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Blanca Rubio,
which awaits consideration on the Assembly Floor, would increase, in each county, the number of available programs related to youth homelessness and housing affordability. It would also require these programs to be inclusive and culturally competent to address these issues within LGBT communities.

A concurrence vote this week may also decide the fate of AB 2663, Property Tax Equity for Same-Sex Partners – a bill sponsored by out Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang and carried in the Assembly by Assemblymember Laura Friedman and presented on the Senate Floor by Republican Scott Wilk. The bill addresses another housing-related issue that affects some LGBT people in California—in this case, an unfair disparity that concerns property taxes.

“For too long,” Zbur explains, “some registered domestic partners in California have unfairly paid more in property taxes due to the death of a partner.” This legislation would provide retroactive relief for those folks, helping to ensure they can continue to afford their homes. 

 Also awaiting consideration on the Senate Floor is legislation concerning family law— LGBTQ Family Law Modernization Act of 2018, AB 2684 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, which updates the code to provide equal legal protections for LGBT parents and their children. 

The legislative session was rounded out with two measures that concern LGBT-related observances. On August 23, the passage of ACR 258 established August 16 as PrEP and PEP Awareness Day in California—which supports efforts by public health officials to raise awareness about the availability of antiretroviral medications that can reduce the risk of HIV infection. And SCR 137, passed on May 29, designates the month of May as National Foster Care Month, an observance that recognizes the role of LGBT parents in the foster care system. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

California

Following Newsom’s vaccination measures, California employers follow suit

We will work with the governor on additional ways we can help encourage vaccines without negatively impacting economic recovery

Published

on

Los Angeles Blade Graphic

SACRAMENTO – Throughout the past week, some of California’s largest employers – both private businesses and local governments – have followed Governor Newsom’s lead in implementing vaccine and testing measures for employees. After California implemented new vaccine verification and testing requirements for state and health care workers on Monday, and with President Biden following suit this past Thursday, employers have implemented similar measures for thousands of employees throughout the state.

  • City of Los Angeles: “Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced today that they would push for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for City employees, beginning with a requirement that workers either submit proof of vaccination or a weekly negative test.”
  • City of San Francisco: “City officials said that the requirement would promote safety in municipal workplaces and among the general public, given that police officers, firefighters, building inspectors and other city workers come into regular contact with members of the community. ‘With those two things in mind — the safety of our employees and the safety of the public we serve — we made this decision,’ said Carol Isen, San Francisco’s director of human resources. ‘We believe this step is a simple one to take. It’s safe, it’s very effective, and it’s going to guarantee the safety of all.’”
  • San Diego County: “The County will begin requiring its employees to verify COVID-19 vaccination or undergo regular testing. Details being worked out but implementation expected by mid-August. Vaccination is the key to fully and safely reopening the economy.”
  • City of Long Beach: “We are announcing today that all @LongBeachCity employees will need a mandatory vaccination or be required to show a weekly negative COVID-19 test. Thank you to the 72% of employees who are already vaccinated. It’s important that public institutions model responsible leadership. I strongly support Governor @GavinNewsom’s action to do the same for state employees. The standard for those who serve the public must follow the best science available. I hope that cities and counties across the state will take similar actions. It’s time we beat this pandemic.”
  • Google: “‘Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,’ Mr. Pichai wrote. He added that the vaccine mandate would apply to U.S. office locations ‘in the coming weeks’ and to other regions ‘in the coming months.’”
  • Facebook: “‘As our offices reopen, we will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our US campuses to be vaccinated,’ VP of People Lori Goler said in a statement. ‘How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations.’”
  • Netflix: “Netflix has become the first major studio to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for its U.S. productions. The move comes after studios and Hollywood unions last week finalized an agreement that allows producers to require vaccines for the people who are potentially at highest risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19 on set: actors and the crew who work most closely with them. Netflix was particularly quick to implement the policy. More major studios are expected to follow in the coming weeks as they work out the challenging logistics of overhauling their approaches to pandemic safety on set.”
  • Lyft: “As of August 2, all employees working in Lyft’s offices are required to be vaccinated, according to an email Lyft (LYFT) CEO Logan Green sent to staffers that was viewed by CNN Business.”
  • Uber: “Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) is pushing back its back-to-office date to late October globally, and all employees in the United States will have to be fully vaccinated before returning to office, a spokesperson said on Thursday.”
  • California Business Roundtable: “The governor’s approach will allow economic recovery to continue while redoubling efforts to encourage vaccinations. From the beginning of the pandemic, the business community has been a partner with the governor and public health officials by implementing mitigation protocols and testing, hosting vaccination clinics, communicating the need to get vaccinated, promoting the vaccine through its own PSA, and offering incentives to employees and customers. We will continue to look to work with the governor on additional ways we can help encourage vaccines without negatively impacting employment opportunities or our economic recovery at this critical stage, while paying special attention to continued outreach to Black and Latino communities, of which 51 percent and 49 percent remain unvaccinated, respectively.”
    • The coalition includes:
      • California Business Properties Association
      • California Hotel and Lodging Association
      • California Manufacturers and Technology Association
      • California Retailers Association
      • California Restaurant Association
      • Orange County Business Council
      • Los Angeles County BizFed
      • Central Valley BizFed
      • Inland Empire Economic Partnership

Here’s what health, labor, and other local leaders have also said about Governor Newsom’s vaccine and testing measures:

  • California Hospital Association President & CEO Carmela Coyle: “The new public health order announced today by Gov. Newsom will help ensure that California remains ahead of the curve in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The unfortunate reality is that COVID-19 is again on the rise nationally, and in California, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. It is imperative that we all do everything possible to protect patients and our communities from COVID-19 illnesses and death. Everyone should get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective — and they are free. The evidence is clear — vaccination against COVID-19 has prevented people from becoming seriously ill, requiring hospitalization, or dying from the virus, as well as spreading it to others. To date, 75% of eligible Californians have received at least one dose, with minimal side effects. Requiring health care settings, including hospitals, to verify the vaccination status of all health care workers — and to expect those who are unvaccinated to wear masks and be tested regularly — are important and necessary steps that must be taken in this extraordinary situation. The Governor’s announcement is essential to keeping patients and those who care for them safe.”
  • California Primary Care Association Vice President & Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mike Witte: “The California Primary Care Association supports twice weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated healthcare workers. The science is clear: the vaccines work, and they are safe. Over 97% of people seriously sick or dying from COVID-19 viral infections are unvaccinated. This trend is completely preventable with increased vaccination, to the point of herd immunity of our population, when we can begin to look at the pandemic ending. Twice weekly PCR testing for all unvaccinated healthcare workers fits the model for good prevention: accessible, accurate, inexpensive and easy to administer. This is an important addition to prevention of COVID-19 infections. CPCA is in full support.”
  • Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President/CEO Jodi Hicks: “Once again, the state of California is leading by example, using data, and following best scientific practices to protect millions of people from COVID-19. We commend Governor Newsom for today’s announcement: implementing a vaccination verification system for employees in high-risk environments – a critical step in helping curb the recent uptick in spread across the state and get us back on track. Planned Parenthood continues to work closely with providers and government officials across the state to ensure access remains equitable and the communities hardest hit by the pandemic have access to correct information about the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and Planned Parenthood will continue to encourage every Californian who can to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
  • California Medical Association President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., M.D.: “Throughout this crisis, health care workers have been a source of strength, sacrifice and perseverance. Ensuring all of us are vaccinated against COVID-19 sends a strong message that the safety of our patients and our colleagues is top priority. It is a duty that comes with our responsibility as people who care for others. We can all do more to keep each other safe, and health care workers in particular have a moral and ethical obligation to do all we can to protect our patients. When someone comes into a health care setting, they deserve to know the medical personnel who care for them are doing everything in their power to keep them safe. Ensuring that all health care workers are protected against COVID-19 will help put patients at ease and will help us bring this deadly pandemic to an end. So many physicians, nurses and medical workers have sacrificed so much over this last 18 months. We know what this virus can do. Many of us have witnessed the devastation first-hand. After going through so much, it is heartbreaking to see cases rise once again, especially when we have vaccines that can stop the spread of this deadly disease. We’ve come too far to ease up now in our fight against COVID-19. It makes sense for the health care community to lead the way in requiring vaccines for our employees. We will continue to do all we can to help convince all Californians that vaccines are safe, effective and critical as we come together to bring this pandemic to an end.”
  • SEIU-UHW Executive Committee Member Gabe Montoya, EMT: “California’s frontline workers in health care and frontline jobs serving the public are growing increasingly concerned as the number of COVID-19 cases rises. We support Governor Newsom’s efforts to ensure vaccinations reach more Californians because these life-saving shots not only prevent death and grave illness from the virus but also prevent more dangerous variants from taking hold. Since this pandemic began, belonging to a union has given workers the strength we needed to speak up for our own safety and the communities we serve, from demanding PPE to creating the conditions for students to return to schools safely. For this reason, we will continue to bargain with our employers to ensure that implementation of the policy includes workers’ voices and push for recognition of all essential workers who have risked their lives during the pandemic.”
  • United Nurses Association of California/Union of Health Care Professionals President Denise Duncan, RN: “COVID-19 transmissions are high, we’re in a fourth surge, and we know that unvaccinated people are suffering the most. This is a forward-thinking order from Governor Newsom which will save lives by protecting patients and caregivers both. Our nurses and health care professionals are still reeling from the last year and a half of the pandemic, including staffing shortages. This is a proactive step to protect patients, workers, and the broader community.”
  • California Statewide Law Enforcement Association: “The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, which represents peace officers across the state, responded to the order by sending a message to members reiterating the state requirements and pledging to follow up on outstanding questions. ‘CSLEA is in the process of confirming that testing will be done at no cost to the employee and on State time and how employees will be compensated for self-quarantine if mandated to do so,’ the union said in a statement. … ‘Further, the State is not presently mandating proof of vaccine, though it would likely be legal if it did. Employees can elect to decline to provide proof of vaccination if they are willing to adhere to the masking and testing requirements,’ the union said in a memo to members.”
  • California Correctional Peace Officers Association: “Glen Stailey, the union’s president, said in a statement, Gov. ‘Newsom’s new vaccine policy is a reasonable compromise that we can get behind. It provides for regular testing at work for those who have chosen not to get vaccinated — this will prevent the spread of the virus among correctional officers and incarcerated individuals alike.’”
  • Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: “I support Gov. @GavinNewsom in requiring #Covid vaccination or regular testing of employees. I believe we should do the same in @TheCityofSac for the sake of our employees and customers.”
Continue Reading

California

Employees of statewide LGBTQ+ group Equality California form union

Employees at other progressive and LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations, including the ACLU and Lambda Legal have formed unions in recent years.

Published

on

Equality California staff volunteer for congressional candidate Christy Smith, March 2020 (Photo Credit: EQ Calif. Facebook)

LOS ANGELES – A supermajority of workers at Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, announced the formation of a union, Equality Unites, with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

In a letter sent via email Thursday, the staff urged Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur, who is leaving his post at the end of 2021, and Executive Director-designate Tony Hoang to voluntarily recognize their union, inclusive of all non-Director level employees.

The union organizers laid out issues that merit the need for the union and what is felt to be critical concerns including addressing employee hiring and retention — particularly among employees of color, trans, gender nonconforming and intersex people — salary, raise, and promotion transparency, guidelines around overtime and fair compensation, a healthy culture of feedback, and any decisions that impact their health, safety and lives.

Organizers also pointed out that the staff at the non-profit organization had exceeded all expectations and kept the organization afloat during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The organizers also want to ensure that all employees have a voice as the organization undergoes a change in and restructuring of leadership, as well as a shift in goals and mission.

“CWA Local 9003 is proud to welcome our newest bargaining unit, Equality Unites,” said CWA Local 9003 President Marisa Remiski. “We are urging management to voluntarily recognize them and CWA Local 9003 as their Union. We look forward to working together!”

Late Thursday afternoon Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur and Executive Director-designate Tony Hoang responded in a written statement;

“This morning, Equality California received notice from our employees that they intend to organize a collective bargaining unit and a request that we voluntarily recognize it. As a progressive civil rights organization, Equality California has always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with unions in support of workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain,” the statement read.

“We remain fully committed to these pro-worker values, and we intend to support our employees’ organizational efforts and voluntarily recognize a bargaining unit. We look forward to continuing to provide a supportive and equitable environment for all of our employees and to working collaboratively with them going forward,” Zbur and Hoag added.

Zbur and Hoang’s voluntary recognition of the union is significant. Employers often resist efforts to unionize by forcing employees to vote or engaging in other practices to dissuade workers from organizing.

But the outgoing and incoming executive directors of the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization immediately made clear that they have no intent to do so, and instead will support the employees’ efforts.

Employees at other progressive and LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations, including the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the Center for Reproductive Rights, have formed unions in recent years.

Throughout the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, labor unions have played an important role in advocating for LGBTQ+ Americans. In 2007, Pride at Work — an official constituency of the AFL-CIO — signed onto an amicus brief in support of marriage equality in In re marriage cases.

Unions like the Communications Workers of America, California Teachers Association, United Food and Commercial Workers, and more staunchly opposed California Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which sought to prohibit marriage equality.

More recently, unions have played a crucial part in advancing protections for LGBTQ+ workers, including the overwhelming 90% of union support for the Equality Act (H.R. 5) and celebration of the historic Supreme Court decision in Bostock, which affirmed that LGBTQ+ workers are protected from discrimination under federal law.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

BNT: Buck case highlights intersection of race & sexual orientation

Journalist Jasmyne Cannick, said that the case “intersected race.” She joins “Black News Tonight” to discuss the case and its impact.

Published

on

Screen shot via Black News Tonight

PHILADELPHIA – Appearing on BNC’s Black News Tonight anchored by journalist Marc Lamont Hill Wednesday, Los Angeles based political strategist and journalist Jasmyne Cannick, who has covered the Ed Buck case, told Hill that the case intersected race and sexual orientation.

“As much as this case is about Ed Buck, it’s also about our housing crisis, and what it makes people feel they have to do — play Russian roulette with their lives just to have a roof over their heads,” Cannick stressed.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular