Equality California
Equality California Unveils 2012 Relationships & Families Legislative Package
March 6, 2012

CONTACT: Rebekah Orr, Equality California
PHONE: 415-498-0847 EMAIL: rebekah@eqca.org

Equality California Unveils 2012 Relationships & Families Legislative Package

Sacramento—Equality California announced today that it will pursue a legislative agenda in 2012  focused on two key areas: protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and strengthening LGBT families. Bills focused specifically on youth are still in development and will be announced later this year. Legislation focused on LGBT families includes four bills designed to: 

Support LGBT Veterans and Military Families. Under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, LGB service members and their families made tremendous sacrifices, but without the support and recognition afforded to the families of other service members. AB 1505 (Pan) will  guarantee that all California service members  who were discharged from the military for no reason other than their sexual orientation are eligible for all state benefits for veterans and their families such as home loans, college tuition fee waivers and preference for civil service examinations.

Keep LGBT People in Their Homes. The death of a lifelong partner is traumatic. But under current law, that trauma can be worsened by property tax penalties that apply unequally to same-sex partners, especially impacting LGBT seniors. AB 1700 (Butler) will ensure that no LGBT person is put at risk of losing the home that he or she has built over a lifetime with a loved one. 

Remove barriers to family-building.  For many loving, committed couples, having a child and building a family is one of the most important and fundamental keys to happiness. Unfortunately, same-sex couples face many barriers in forming families—including unequal access to fertility health care. AB 2356 (Skinner) will ensure that women in same-sex relationships can access fertility services on the same terms as women in opposite-sex relationships. 

Protect Religious Freedom in Marriage.  As we continue our efforts to achieve full equality, we must remove every possible barrier to securing the freedom to marry, including the false claim made by anti-equality advocates in California and elsewhere that allowing loving same-sex couples to marry will force clergy or places of worship to compromise their religious beliefs. As we anticipate the restoration of the freedom to marry in our state, SB 1140 (Leno) reaffirms the principles of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with respect to the freedom of clergy to make faith-based decisions regarding which marriages they solemnize. 

“Committed same-sex couples ought to be treated with dignity, respect and equality,” said Equality California Board President Clarissa Filgioun. “Until marriage equality in California is restored, we must continue to work at the legislative level to close every equality gap that leaves same-sex couples and their families unequal or vulnerable under the law in ways that married opposite-sex couples are not—from starting a family to the loss of a partner. We look forward to working with our legislative allies to advance these important changes in the law.”  

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators and advocates to successfully sponsor more than 80 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org