Political Notebook: Lawmakers hail Newsom's signage of HIV-related bills

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday July 28, 2021
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Governor Gavin Newsom signed two HIV-related bills July 23. Photo: Facebook
Governor Gavin Newsom signed two HIV-related bills July 23. Photo: Facebook

The authors of two bills benefiting Californians living with HIV are praising Governor Gavin Newsom for signing their legislation into law. He did so without comment on July 23.

Senate Bill 283, authored by Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), strengthens the Equal Insurance HIV Act of 2020. It imposes a prohibition as of January 1, 2023 on a life or disability insurance insurer from considering an applicant's occupation in determining whether to require an HIV test. It also clarifies that limiting benefits payable for a loss caused or contributed to by HIV is allowed if it was part of the original underwriting risk.

And the law also makes clear that the misdemeanor for willful, negligent, or malicious disclosure of HIV test results to a third party is now punishable by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 364 days.

"This prioritizes equity for Californians living with HIV," tweeted Gonzalez, who also thanked gay state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and his staff for assisting with the bill.

Under SB 258 older people with HIV will be considered of "greatest social need" when it comes to programs and services administered by the California Department of Aging. Gay state Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), a founder and former executive director of an AIDS agency in his coastal city, authored the legislation taking effect January 1.

"We must ensure that LGBTQ seniors have the affirming care and support so they can age in peace with dignity," stated Laird. "It's incumbent upon us to not force individuals back into the closet for them to access adequate care. Once again, I'd like to applaud the governor for his continued support of the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues for making this a priority bill."

APLA Health Chief Executive Officer Craig E. Thompson thanked Laird for ensuring elderly people with HIV can thrive and age with dignity.

"Many older people with HIV are long term survivors of the AIDS epidemic. They have lost countless loved ones and entire networks of social support. They also continue to face discrimination and alarming levels of stigma," Thompson noted.

Newsom also signed into law last Friday Laird's SB 272 updating "archaic gender-specific pronouns" used in the state's vehicle code to refer to California Highway Patrol Commissioner Amanda Ray, the first female to lead the agency, as well as throughout the state's insurance code. It takes effect immediately.

"Language matters and it's about time we update our laws to reflect the diversity of our state, and its current and future leaders," stated Lara. "Embracing gender-neutral language in our laws reflects the hard work that so many are doing for a better, more inclusive society."

It parallels Assembly Bill 378 that Newsom also signed this month authored by Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda). It updates the state code references to governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state controller, treasurer, insurance commissioner, and board of equalization to be gender neutral.

Newsom has now signed into law five of 12 bills related to LGBTQ concerns in this legislative session. Earlier this month he had signed Bauer-Kahan's AB 439 allowing deceased Californians who are nonbinary to be identified as such on their death certificates.

LGBTQ Dem club to revote on Assembly race nod

Ahead of the June special election for the East Bay's open 18th Assembly District seat, no candidate was able to secure an endorsement from the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club. Now the LGBTQ political group will revote on backing one of the two women who advanced to the August 31 runoff race.

Queer social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran, who also identifies as lesbian, and Alameda Unified School Board president Mia Bonta are vying to succeed Bonta's husband, Rob Bonta, who resigned earlier this year to become California's attorney general. A number of LGBTQ groups are backing Ramachandran, while several out state legislators have personally endorsed Bonta.

The Stonewall club will hold a virtual endorsement meeting the evening of August 3 to see if either of the two candidates can now nab its nod in the race. Only those members who had paid their annual dues by this past Tuesday, July 27, can vote.

The club intends to post 10-minute recorded interviews with each candidate to its website by Friday, July 30, to help the eligible endorsement voters make up their minds.

Alameda Dems to take up pro-LGBTQ endorsement policy

Leaders of the Democratic Party in Alameda County are expected to vote at their August 4 meeting on banning endorsements for anti-LGBTQIA+ candidates seeking elective office. It is believed the local party would be the first in the state to adopt such an endorsement ban.

The Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, which sets policy for the local party, passed a resolution in June supportive of not backing candidates with a history of opposing LGBTQIA+ rights or who won't commitment to support LGBTQIA+ rights if elected. Since then committee members have been working to make it official policy by enacting a bylaws change.

According to a copy of the proposal shared with the Bay Area Reporter, candidates will be deemed anti-LGBTQIA+ for voting "against a show of solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community" or for policies "harmful or exclusionary to the LGBTQIA+ community," or if they've made public comments against LGBTQIA+ issues even if they didn't act upon those views.

The endorsement ban would also cover candidates personally supporting an anti-LGBTQIA+ candidate or an elected official who adopted anti-LGBTQIA+ policies. The new rules would also apply to local Democratic clubs, which would lose their chartering by the local party if they violate it.

Should the bylaws change pass, then any member of the central committee who endorses or votes to endorse an anti-LGBTQIA+ candidate could face removal from the oversight body. Proponents of the endorsement ban would like for it to be in place prior to when the central committee starts its endorsement process for the 2022 elections.

For details about the meeting next Wednesday, click here.


Last week's column incorrectly referred to former historic preservation commissioner Aaron Hyland. The online version has been corrected.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column looked at the housing policy stances of the candidates in the special election for the East Bay state Assembly seat.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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