> SACRAMENTO - Equality California, California's largest lesbian, gay,
> bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy and lobbying organization, announced that Governor Gray Davis has signed a landmark bill to prohibit
> housing and workplace discrimination based on gender characteristics. The measure, Assembly Bill (AB) 196, is sponsored by Equality California, and
> authored by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).
> "We applaud Governor Davis for his continued leadership on civil rights issues," stated Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California.
> "By signing this bill Governor Davis has made it clear that efforts by anti-gay extremists to remove him from office will not cause him to waiver
> in his strong commitment to ending discrimination against LGBT Californians.
> His actions in signing this legislation will help ensure that individuals are judged on their merit, not their gender characteristics."
> AB 196 adds gender to the list of categories protected by California's Fair Employment and Housing Act. This measure prohibits discrimination based on gender-related characteristics, including transgender status.
California will now the fourth state to ban such discrimination, following New Mexico's passage of such a measure earlier this year. Numerous court decisions from across the nation have concluded that existing laws protecting against sex discrimination should already be interpreted to prohibit discrimination
> based on gender identity or expression. The state's own Department of Fair Employment and Housing already accepts and investigates such cases based
> on the strong case law precedent. The bill is supported by a broad coalition of over 50 business, civil rights, and religious organizations, including
> California NOW, California Labor Federation, National Center for Lesbian Rights, SEIU, AFSCME, Anti-Defamation League, Lambda Legal, Lambda
> Letter's, California Church IMPACT, ACLU, Transgender Law Center, the Greater San
> Diego Business Association and the California Apartment Association.
> "Californians overwhelming support equal opportunity," said Kors. "This bill will help ensure that individuals are considered for employment based
> on whether they are qualified, not on whether they conform to gender stereotypes." Kors noted that California law already protects against
> hate crimes based on gender stereotyping, and protects students and teachers from
> discrimination or harassment on this basis. He also noted that California already prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and housing under a law signed by Governor Davis in 1999, his first year in office. "At a time when President Bush is working to bring out the worst in people by dividing us for his own political gain, Governor Davis is continuing his efforts to bring out the best in people by uniting us," Kors said.
> Kors concluded, "Equality California is extremely grateful to Assemblyman Leno for his outstanding work on this important bill. We also want to thank
> the legislators who voted for it and Governor Davis for standing with the vast majority of Californians who support equality and fairness."
> Equality California's two remaining bills, AB 17 (Equal Benefits) and AB 205
> (Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities) have passed the Assembly and
> are expected to be considered by the Senate later this Summer.
> Founded in 1998, Equality California (formerly CAPE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission
> is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders. (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is
> one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. It can be contacted through our website at www.eqca.org
>Bart Broome,Office of Assemblyman Paul Koretz
"I was with Nathan Purkiss, staffer for Assemblyman Mark Leno, on Saturdaywhen he got the call from Mr. Leno that AB 196 had been signed by Governor
Davis right after he signed the $99 billion budget bill. Nathan and I had worked on transgender issues at the City of San Francisco. Nathan moved toSacramento with Mr. Leno; and he has been the staff person responsible forAB 196 in Leno's office.
With the good news, a dinner celebration was quickly put together and Nathan and I insisted that all our male guests wear wigs through the dinner.
Everyone had a great time.