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California legislature passes first bill in U.S. to increase LGBT judicial appointments

SACRAMENTO -- The California state Assembly today passed the historical Judicial Applicant and Appointment Demographics Inclusion Act (SB 182).

Introduced by state Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) and sponsored by Equality California, the bill would add gender identity and sexual orientation as self-reported demographic information collected by the Governor for state and county judicial appointees and applicants.

The bill passed the state Senate in July and will now go to the Governor's Office.

“California is one of the largest and most culturally diverse states in the nation so it’s important that our judges represent and reflect the rich diversity of our state,” said Roland Palencia, Equality California executive director. “There are approximately 1,600 judgeships in the state of California, yet only a handful of judges are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This bill will ensure that demographic information from qualified candidates belonging to the LGBT community is collected and taken into consideration when the Governor appoints new judges.”

The Governor’s Office already collects demographic data provided by all judicial applicants relative to ethnicity, race and gender. This bill would amend state code to include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity on the appropriate forms.

“As Senate Majority Leader and as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have worked tirelessly to achieve equality for all Californians. For Californians to have confidence in the judicial system, it would be helpful to know that our judges represent the diversity that makes California unique among states,” Corbett said.