Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

CA Governor Brown signs LGBT data collection bill into law

California Governor Jerry Brown (Courtesy governor's office)

California Governor Jerry Brown (Courtesy governor’s office)

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that requires a number of state agencies to begin collecting LGBT demographic data.

Assembly Bill 959, authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), is known as the LGBT Disparities Reduction Act.

“I am thrilled by our Governor’s actions today and overjoyed that because of AB 959 our LGBT communities will now be counted by the state for vital health and well-being services,” stated Chiu. “The governor has restored California’s status as a leader of LGBT civil rights. After years of being left out of statewide demographic data, LGBT individuals will now be able to share their experiences to provide much-needed data to understand and ultimately reduce long standing health disparities that have disproportionately impacted these communities.”

As the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notes column pointed out Monday, LGBT advocates made passage of Chiu’s bill this year a main priority. Chiu last week delivered more than 5,000 postcards in support of the bill to the governor’s office.

The reason for the pressure on the governor was due to his vetoing similar legislation in 2013, partly due to the cost of having the various agencies update their forms and computer systems. It is estimated to cost the state at least $600,000 to implement Chiu’s bill.

The legislation was the centerpiece of the Equality for All initiative from Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, aimed at securing more funding from the state for a host of needs within the LGBT community.

Without having precise data on the issues confronting LGBT Californians, EQCA and others argued it is hard for them to advocate for increased funding or more services from public entities. To sway Brown this year into backing the bill, EQCA launched an online petition in support of his signing it and asked its supporters to sign on to it.

“When you can get 5,000 people to send in a postcard on something called data collection, it showed the governor how important it was to our community,” EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur told the B.A.R. in a phone interview.

Chiu’s legislation requires four state agencies overseeing health and social services programs to begin collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity and provides for protections to ensure the information remains private.

The quartet that needs to collect the “voluntary self-identification information” pertaining to LGBT people is the departments of health care services, public health, social services, and aging. They have until July 1, 2018 to comply, and advocates are expected to push for more agencies to follow suit.

“This bill was a first step,” said Zbur. “It didn’t cover all of California government but included health-related areas.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 7, 2015 @ 2:48 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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