Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Two LGBT bills from freshmen Bay Area lawmakers survive committee vote

Assemblyman David Chiu

Assemblyman David Chiu

Two LGBT bills backed by freshmen lawmakers from the Bay Area passed out of the state Assembly’s Accountability and Administrative Review Committee Wednesday.

The first bill, AB 959, is known as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Disparities Reduction Act and is authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco). As previously noted by the Bay Area Reporter, it would require a number of state agencies to start collecting demographic data on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The committee voted 8-0, with Assemblywoman Beth Gaines (R-Roseville) abstaining, to send the bill to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Past efforts to pass such a bill ran into Governor Jerry Brown’s veto pen, and it remains to be seen if he has changed his mind this year. In the meantime, local jurisdictions and the state of New York have begun asking LGBT-based questions on forms and surveys.

“We all know this data collection is essential to help the government serve our diverse communities and close disparities” within the LGBT community, testified Chiu, a straight lawmaker who has made LGBT issues a top legislative priority during his first term.

LGBT groups have singled out AB 959 as their top legislative priority this year. The lack of LGBT demographic data hampers their ability to argue for state funding to address disparities in the health and wellbeing of the LGBT community. It also makes it impossible to gauge if state agencies are adequately addressing such needs.

“Our community remains in the shadows, basically invisible in the eyes of state government because our community is not included when important demographic data is collected,” Rick Zbur, executive director of the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality California, told the committee members.

Assemblyman Evan Low

Assemblyman Evan Low

The other pro-gay bill that advanced today is AB 1050, authored by gay Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell). It would ban nonprofits that discriminate based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity from enrolling in the “Our Promise: California State Employees Giving at Work” program, where the state matches contributions state employees make to various charitable groups directly from their salaries or wages.

Under the legislation, the thousands of tax-deductible entities participating in Our Promise would have to prove to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board that they have LGBT anti-discrimination policies in place.

“This bill ensures charities participating in the employer charitable giving program are in compliance with non-discrimination law,” testified Zbur. “Our Promise participants would have to submit statements to ensure they are in compliance.”

If adopted, the law would make it impossible for the Boy Scouts of America, for example, to be in the Our Promise program since the youth group bans openly gay people from being Scout leaders.

And anti-gay groups, such as the American Center for Law and Justice Inc. based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which is currently listed on the Our Promise website, would not be allowed to continue in the donation match program unless they have policies in place protecting LGBT employees.

The committee passed Low’s bill 8-1, with Gaines the lone no vote, and it also now will be heard by appropriations.

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 29, 2015 @ 3:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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