EQUALITY CALIFORNIA | eqca.org
(formerly CAPE - California Alliance for Pride and Equality)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (August 3, 2003)

Contact: Geoffrey Kors, 415-816-4717

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR SIGNS EQUALITY CALIFORNIA'S HISTORIC GENDER IDENTIY
NON-DISCRIMINATION BILL
Landmark Measure by San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno is first of three
LGBT Bills to Reach Davis' Desk

 

SACRAMENTO - Equality California, California's largest lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy and lobbying organization, today
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 transgender (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is
one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the
country. We can be contacted through our website at www.eqca.org.

-END-

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 3, 2003

Shannon Minter, NCLR (415) 595-2125

Christopher Daley, TLC (415) 865-0176

NATIONAL AND STATE LEGAL GROUPS HAIL NEW CALIFORNIA LAW PROTECTING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

California becomes fourth state to protect transgender people from discrimination

SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday, California Governor Gray Davis signed AB 196, a bill amending the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to specifically include transgender employees and tenants. AB 196 was authored by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California.

Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, applauded the bill’s enactment as a milestone for transgender equality. “Transgender people seek nothing more than the opportunity to support ourselves and our families and to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said. “By enacting AB 196 into law, Californians are sending a powerful message that no person can be denied employment or housing based on gender-related characteristics that have nothing to do with their qualifications as employees or tenants.”

The bill clarifies that California’s existing ban on sex discrimination in employment and housing also prohibits discrimination based on gender stereotypes and transgender status. AB 196 passed both houses of the California Legislature and gained broad support from a wide variety of groups throughout the state -- including over 50 business, civil rights, and religious organizations -- before reaching Governor Davis’ desk last week.

According to Christopher Daley, Co-Director of the California-based Transgender Law Center, “AB 196 sends a message of hope and equality to transgender people throughout the state. Every day, I am contacted by transgender people who have lost their jobs or their homes, simply because of who they are. It is long past time that California and other states put an end to this devastating and costly discrimination.” A recent report by NCLR and TLC reveals high rates of employment and housing discrimination among transgender people. The report is available at TLC’s website: www.transgenderlawcenter.org.

Three other states, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and New Mexico, have enacted laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. At the local level, 59 cities and counties -- including Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Louisville, New York City, and Pittsburgh -- have enacted non-discrimination ordinances that protect transgender people.

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NCLR

Founded in 1977, the National Center for Lesbian Rights is the only national public interest law center dedicated to achieving full civil and human rights for all lesbians through a program of litigation, public policy, advocacy, community education, and free legal advice and counseling. In addition, NCLR provides representation and resources to gay men and bisexual and transgender people. www.nclrights.org.

TLC

Transgender Law Center is a non-profit legal organization serving transgender communities in California. TLC connects transgender people and their families to technically sound and culturally competent legal services, increases acceptance and enforcement of laws and policies that support California's transgender communities, and works to change laws and systems that fail to incorporate the needs and experiences of transgender people. www.transgenderlawcenter.org <http://www.transgenderlawcenter.org/>