In the past month, three California assembly bills concerning queer rights have advanced considerably, increasing the likelihood of state-recognized domestic partnerships for same-gender couples and gaining protection for transgender people in housing and the workplace.
The Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act, AB 205, seeks to reverse the success of Proposition 22, the Protection of Marriage Initiative, which was voted on in 2000 and denied recognition of same-gender unions in California. AB 205 was passed by a key committee, the Democrat-controlled Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 1.
According to the conservative group, Campaign for California Families, which publicly voiced opposition to the bill outside of Gov. Gray Davis’ office, the governor will likely have the most power over whether or not the bill becomes law.
“Gov. Davis is going to be pressured heavily by the right not to support this bill,” said freshwoman Ali Usilcka.”This would be a huge step towards gaining rights for gay people, but only time will tell if Davis has enough influence and makes the right decision,” Usilcka said.
The second bill pertaining to domestic partnerships, AB 17, was introduced by Assembly member Christine Kehoe and passed by the same committee. AB17 would prohibit California state agencies to contract with businesses that don’t offer the same benefits to registered same-gender couples that they do to married heterosexuals.
Just as AB 17 would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, AB 196 intends to provide protection from discrimination based on gender characteristics and gender expression. The California state assembly’s labor and employment committee approved the bill on Wednesday, March 19, which still must pass through the assembly appropriations committee. For transgender people and others who experience discrimination based on their gender expression, this bill will provide legal process for those who lose their jobs or are denied housing because of discrimination. AB 196 is supported by many civil rights organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the California Labor Federation, and the California Commission on the Status of Women. “Its not like AB 196 is going to end the daily harassment and discrimination that transgender people face, but it is a step in the right direction for California and a victory for civil rights,” said sophomore Sara Spriggs.