Governor Signs Important LGBT Legislation

A day after the National March in Washington, organized in order to bring attention to the need for Federal legislation to bring equality for all LGBT Americans, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law several important pieces of LGBT legislation.

Three bills, sponsored by Equality California, result in the recognition of Harvey Milk Day (which will be May 22nd each year, Milk’s birthday), The LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion Bill, which will leverage funding for same sex domestic violence cases, and the Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act, which states that same sex couples married out of state before November 4, 2008 will be considered married in California. Additionally, same sex couples who have married or who will marry out of state after November 5th, 2008, will be considered married in the state of California. This will mean that while same sex couples are still not legally allowed to marry in California, if they are legally married in another state and return to California, those marriage rights will apply to them here. This is a big step, and provides a loophole through the discrimination that is Proposition 8. It also adds another layer of legal precedence in the battle for equal federal rights.

Three resolutions were passed by the State Legislature. These resolutions urge the passage of an inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act on a federal level, as well as a hate crimes bill and the Uniting Families Act, which, if passed, would let Americans sponsor same sex partners for immigration. The legislature also passed resolutions urging the federal repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act and the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

The Governor vetoed two bills, also sponsored by EQCA. The Equal ID Act would have assisted transgender Californians in obtaining accurate birth certificates, and the LGBT Prisoner Safety Act would have provided safeguards in prison housing related to gender identity and sexual orientation. The Governor stated that there were already protections for these issues in existing laws and policies.

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