Historic Bills Expanding LGBT Rights and Resources Become Law

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja, Communications Director
PHONE: (916) 284-9187
EMAIL: vaishalee@eqca.org

Historic Bills Expanding LGBT Rights and Resources Become Law

Marriage Recognition, Domestic Violence Programs Expansion, and Harvey Milk Day bills will become state law on January 1, 2010

SACRAMENTO - On
January 1, three new pieces of legislation expanding rights and
resources for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
community will go into effect in California. Among the new laws, each
sponsored by Equality California, include a bill that recognizes the
marriage of thousands of same-sex couples regardless of when or where
they were married, a bill increasing services to LGBT survivors of
domestic violence and a third recognizing the contributions of slain
civil rights leader Harvey Milk.

The
Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act, introduced by Senator
Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), holds that same-sex couples married in any
state or nation anytime 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."

"This
vital bill will provide 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," said Geoff Kors,
executive director of Equality California. "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 come with marriage."

Also
becoming state law is the LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion
Bill, which was authored by Speaker-Elect Assemblymember John A. Pérez
(D-Los Angeles). The bill expands access for LGBT service providers to
a state fund within the California Emergency Management Agency, which
supports LGBT-specific domestic violence programs across the state. The
fund, originally established as part of another EQCA-sponsored bill in
2006, is subsidized by a $23 fee on domestic partner registrations. The
new bill would also allow for more than four organizations to apply for
programmatic funding each fiscal cycle and eliminates the requirement
for providers to offer shelter – impediments to many smaller LGBT
organizations that inadvertently keep several California communities
from providing any services for LGBT survivors of domestic violence.

Harvey
Milk Day, which will be celebrated on May 22, 2010, 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." The bill was also introduced by Senator
Leno.

"We
are grateful to the LGBT Caucus, our allied lawmakers, and the Governor
for making these landmark measures the law in California, as these
bills will dramatically improve the lives of LGBT Californians and
their families," Kors said. “We look forward to the year ahead and to
advancing our mission of achieving true and full equality for LGBT
Californians.”

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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