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Calif. Legislature Passes Gay Civil Rights Act
by Mark Worrall 365Gay.com San Francisco Bureau
Posted: August 30, 2005 3:00 pm ET
(Sacramento, California) The California Assembly has passed legislation banning discrimination against gays, lesbians and the transgendered in employment, housing and the delivery of goods and services.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
California law prohibited discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability or medical condition. But, it did not specifically name members of the LGBT community as a protected group.
Although courts have consistently interpreted the law as applying to gays civil rights groups in the state fought for a number of years to have the law amended to be fully inclusive.
The legislation adds sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status to the existing law.
The assembly passed the bill, authored by Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) by a 47-29 vote. It passed the Senate last week (story)
“The California legislature has once again demonstrated its commitment to true equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians,” said Executive Director Geoffrey Kors of Equality California.
“By adding sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status, California will continue to be at the forefront of ensuring equality for all.”
Governor Schwarzenegger has 12 days to sign the bill into law, once it reaches his desk.
Businesses subject to the Unruh Act include shopping centers, mobile home parks, bars and restaurants, schools, medical and dental offices, hotels and motels, and condominium homeowners’ associations.
The final passage of the bill comes as the Senate prepares to vote, possibly as soon as Wednesday, on gay marriage legislation. (story)
The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act would require local clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples but allow people opposed to gay marriage to refuse to conduct weddings.
If it passes the Senate it would need approval of the Assembly and then a final vote in both houses before going to the governor. Schwarzenegger has not indicated if he will sign either bill.
Calif. OKs organ bill for HIV patients
Christopher Curtis, PlanetOut Network
Tuesday, August 30, 2005 / 05:18 PM
The California Legislature has passed two bills of interest to the LGBT community: one prohibits insurers from denying coverage for organ transplants based solely on a patient's HIV status; the other strengthens current protections against discriminatory business practices.
Assembly Bill (AB) 228 is the first bill in the nation to prohibit insurers from denying organ transplant coverage based on a patient's HIV status. The bill's author, Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, said, "There are many reasons why a patient with HIV may not be suitable for a transplant, but the sole fact that they are HIV-positive is no longer considered a legitimate reason at many transplant centers."
"This sends a strong message that people with HIV should not be denied transplants because of their HIV status," said Redge Norton, spokesman for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "Transplants should be determined on a medical basis, not HIV status."
The Southern California AIDS Coalition, the organization sponsoring the legislation, noted that in the past, HIV-positive patients were not considered suitable candidates for organ transplantation due to their shortened lifespan. But anti-retroviral medications have extended the life expectancy of persons living with HIV infection, the group said, adding that organ transplants in qualified HIV patients lead to outcomes similar to those in patients without HIV.
"The demand has not been great thus far, but that's because providers have not let it be known they would accept positive clients," said Walt Senterfitt, co-chair of the Southern California AIDS Coalition.
"The significant thing is that it passed by a wide margin, with both Republicans and Democrats voting for it," Senterfitt told the PlanetOut Network. On May 16 the Assembly passed AB 228, 47-27. On Aug. 24, AB 228 passed in the Senate, 35-4.
The bill now heads to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk. Once there, he has 12 days to sign it into law.
The other bill on the way to the governor's desk is AB 1400, a bill that builds upon the Unruh Civil Rights Act to reinforce that all businesses that provide services, goods or accommodations to the public cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
AB 1400 passed the Assembly on Monday, 47-29 after passing in the Senate, 21-15, on Aug. 22.
AB 1400's author, Assemblymember John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, praised his colleagues for passing the bill. "The California Legislature made the right decision to make significant improvements to a significant civil rights law, the Unruh Act, making clear for businesses and customers that discrimination in any form is unacceptable."