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EQCA: 7 bills that would ensure equality from birth to death

SACRAMENTO -- Equality California announced today its sponsorship of seven bills for the 2014 legislative session that would improve equality for LGBT Californians from cradle to grave.

“These bills touch on every aspect of life, from birth through school, doctor’s visits, marriage, even respect after death — all the major milestones of life,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “With this package of bills, we’re moving from a focus on marriage equality to full equality.”

Equality California’s bills would:

* Modernize birth certificates: AB 1951, authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, would modernize California birth certificates by allowing parents to choose to self-designate as “father,” “mother” or “parent,” eliminating inaccurate designations and confusion for same-sex parents.

* Protect students: SB 840, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, moves forward on recommendations from 2013’s statewide audit on school safety and nondiscrimination laws, to hold schools accountable for documenting responses to bullying and referring students to appropriate services.

* End youth group discrimination: SB 323, the Youth Equality Act, authored by Lara, is a two-year bill introduced in 2013. The bill clarifies that nonprofit youth organizations will only be rewarded with special tax exemptions if they comply with California’s existing nondiscrimination laws.

* Clean up marriage language: SB 1306, authored by Senator Mark Leno, brings California statutory law into line with last June’s Supreme Court decision restoring the freedom to marry in California. References to “husband” and “wife” would be replaced with gender-neutral language such as “spouse” to recognize all married couples throughout California code.

* Ensure health care providers know LGBT health: AB 496, authored by Assemblymember Rich Gordon, is a two-year bill introduced in 2013. It would increase awareness of LGBT health issues among health care providers, leading to better care and better outcomes.

* End the “gay panic” defense: AB 2501, authored by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, would eliminate the so-called “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses, outrageous tactics used by defendants who claim their violent acts were triggered by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

* Ensure accurate death certificates: AB 1577, the Respect After Death Act, authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins, would make sure death certificates for transgender Californians accurately reflect their authentic, lived identity.

As these bills touch on major life milestones, passing these bills would be a milestone for EQCA. Over the past 16 years, EQCA has worked hard to move California from a state with extremely limited protections for LGBT people to the state with the most advanced protections in the country. With a total of 96 bills passed prior to the 2014 session, passing these seven would bring that total to 103, making EQCA the first LGBT advocacy organization to pass more than 100 bills.