Political Notebook: CA lawmakers pass LGBTQ bills

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021
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Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno). Photo: Courtesy ABC7
Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno). Photo: Courtesy ABC7

California lawmakers have adopted three more bills related to LGBTQ issues as they race to finish their work by the September 10 deadline to pass legislation this year and send it to Governor Gavin Newsom to either sign into law or veto.

Assembly Bill 1094, authored by Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), enhances the collection of public health data about violent deaths, including homicide and suicide, so that it includes stats related to the LGBTQ+ community. The state Senate approved it 39-0 September 1, and the Assembly passed the amended version of the bill the next day on a 71-0 vote with eight members not voting.

It will establish a pilot program to train coroners and medical examiners on how to collect SOGI data in all cases of violent death so there is a better understanding of disparities in the mortality rate in the LGBTQ community that could lead to policies addressing those disparities at the county level.

"Passing #AB1094 is a huge victory and, if signed, means CA will enhance the collection of public health data about violent deaths for our #LGBTQ+ community," tweeted Equality California, the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization that co-sponsored the bill with the LGBTQ youth agency The Trevor Project.

Gay Assemblyman Evan Low's AB 1084 requires retailers with 500 or more employees to remove signs for gender in toy and child care sections or provide a gender-neutral retail section for the items. In a compromise to move the bill out of the Legislature, Low and co-author Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) agreed not to include children's clothing sections in the bill. It passed out of the Assembly September 2 on a 49-16 vote with 14 members not voting; the day prior the Senate had approved it on a 29-9 vote with two abstentions.

AB 465 by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys) requires that professional fiduciaries receive LGBTQ+ cultural competency and sensitivity training during their education and licensing process. Private professional fiduciaries provide critical services to older adults and people with disabilities, from managing their clients' daily care, housing, and medical needs to ensuring their bills are paid and managing their investments. It passed out of the Assembly on a 72-0 vote September 1 after the Senate approved an amended version 31-1 on August 30.

As of the Bay Area Reporter's deadline Wednesday, September 8, none of the trio of bills had yet to be officially sent to Newsom's desk for his signature. A bill prohibiting public universities from deadnaming trans and nonbinary students — that is using their former names they were given based on the gender they were assigned at birth — on their diplomas and academic records, AB 245, is now before Newsom.

It was sent to the governor's desk September 2, kicking off the 12-day deadline for him to sign it. Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) revived AB 245 this year after shelving the legislation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic paring down the Legislature's workload.

Additional bills concerning LGBTQ issues should be adopted by state legislators in the coming days and sent to Newsom's desk. It remains to be seen how the September 14 recall effort against Newsom will impact those bills he has yet to sign.

Five LGBTQ-related bills already signed

As the B.A.R. has previously reported, Newsom this year has already signed into law several LGBTQ-related bills. Two aimed at assisting people living with HIV became law in July.

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.

The other HIV-related bill, SB 258, specifies that older people with HIV are to be part of the population 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.

The governor in July also signed into law Laird's SB 272 updating "archaic gender-specific pronouns" used in the state's vehicle code to refer to the California Highway Patrol commissioner, now led by a woman, as well as throughout the state's insurance code. It parallels another bill Newsom signed into law that month authored by Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), who signed on as a co-author to Laird's legislation.

Bauer-Kahan's AB 378 systematically goes through laws related to the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state controller, treasurer, insurance commissioner, and board of equalization to make all references to the gender of the officer gender neutral. Currently, most parts of the state code refer to these constitutional office holders as only "he" or "him."

Newsom also signed Bauer-Kahan's AB 439 to allow for deceased Californians who are nonbinary to be identified as such on their death certificates.

Political Notes, the notebook's online companion, returns Monday, September 13.

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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