Governor Signs Harvey Milk Day and Marriage Recognition Bills

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja
(916) 284-9187 vaishalee@eqca.org

Governor Signs Harvey Milk Day and Marriage Recognition Bills

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Today
Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law two historic LGBT rights bills
- recognizing the contributions of slain civil rights leader Harvey
Milk and a bill that underscores that same-sex couples married before
the passage of Proposition 8 are entitled to full recognition as
married spouses in California, regardless of whether they married in
California or out of state. Both bills were sponsored by Equality
California (EQCA) and were introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San
Francisco). The bills were the top priority of EQCA, the state's
leading LGBT rights organization and were targeted by right wing
anti-gay groups who worked to defeat the bills first in the legislature
and then by urging the Governor to veto the measures.

"We
are grateful to the Governor for signing these critical and
groundbreaking measures into law and rising above partisan politics to
improve the lives of LGBT Californians," said EQCA Executive Director
Geoff Kors. The Harvey Milk Day bill marks the first time in the
nation's history that a state will officially recognize and celebrate
the contributions of an openly LGBT person with an annual "day of
special significance."

"Californians
will now learn about Harvey's amazing contributions to the advancement
of civil rights for decades to come," Kors said. "He is a role model to
millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on
forever."

The
Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act, also signed today,
holds that same-sex couples married before the passage of Proposition 8
must be recognized as married spouses in California, regardless of
whether they married in California or in another state or nation. In
addition, the new statute also confirms that same-sex couples married
outside of California after November 5, 2008, must be given all of the
rights, protections and responsibilities of married spouses under
California law, with the sole exception of the designation of
"marriage."

"We
are grateful that the Governor has signed this critical bill, which
provides much needed protections for same-sex couples who have legally
married out of state, or will in the future, and who deserve to be
treated like any other married couple," Kors said. "This bill will
allow same-sex couples to get married in other states and countries and
ensure they are treated equally under the law when they return to
California. Ultimately, however, restoring the freedom to marry is the
only way to ensure that all Californians receive the dignity and
respect that comes with marriage."

"When
California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008,
spouses who were already married in another state or country were
prohibited from re-marrying in California," said Senator Leno. "Now
those couples and their families are in limbo because their rights and
protections under law are not clear. This new law will ensure that
same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that
recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are
performed."

The
Governor also signed EQCA-sponsored legislation by Assemblymember John
A. Pérez to help leverage funding for same-sex domestic violence
services and vetoed two bills on the grounds that existing law and
policy already provided the protections the bills sought to put into
statute: the Equal ID Act, allowing transgender people to obtain new
birth certificates and the LGBT Prisoner Safety Act, considering sexual
orientation and gender identity to safely house prisoners.

"While
we believe it is important to have these protections in statute rather
than just as policy or court precedent and are disappointed by the
vetoes, the Governor's reaffirmation of these policies will hopefully
help ensure they are enforced," Kors said.

For more information about EQCA's legislation, visit http://www.eqca.org/legislation.

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Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.

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