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Volume 33
Issue 34

 
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YEAR'S FIRST GAY RIGHTS BILL PASSES LEGISLATURE
YEAR'S FIRST GAY RIGHTS BILL PASSES LEGISLATURE
Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee and Equality California Join Forces to add sexual orientation to fair campaign code; legislation now hits gGovernor's desk

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Legislation designed to prevent discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals in political campaigns is one critical step away from becoming law - a signature by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This week, the Senate approved Assembly Bill (AB) 866, authored by Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/Daly City) on a 2-12 vote. The Governor now has 12 days to sign or veto AB 866.

The legislation, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), would prohibit the use of any negative appeal based on prejudice against Gay and Lesbian people by candidates or campaign committees who sign the voluntary pledge provided for in the Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

"I urge the Governor to immediately sign this bill into law so we can move one step closer to ending anti-Gay rhetoric in political campaigns," said Speaker pro Tem Yee. "Candidates should not discriminate and victimize the Gay and Lesbian community for political purposes. Fostering campaigns that create fear and intimidation only incite a potentially dangerous situation for the Gay and Lesbian community."

"Sidelining ethics and integrity to garner votes is simply bad politics," said Executive Director Geoffrey Kors of Equality California. "We cannot allow a few bad apples to hijack political campaigns and really cheapen the voting process with homophobia and anti-Gay prejudice. Candidates must live up to a higher standard willing to represent all constituencies and communities. This is no gray area. Winning elections on the backs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people is just wrong and opens the door to attacks and violence against our community. This is why the Legislature has passed this necessarily piece of legislation and we believe Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will uphold respect and equality for all Californians."

Currently, candidates can sign a voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices pledge which states they will not use any negative appeal or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, physical health status, or age during their political campaigns. This Code of Fair Campaign Practices and a copy of the Elections Code provisions are required to be provided by the Registrar of Voters at the declaration of candidacy, nomination papers, or any other documentation that identifies the intent to be a candidate for public office.

Studies have concluded that political hate-driven messages have been directly connected to violence against Gay and Lesbian people. Incidents of violence against the Gay community have peaked in national elections years, particularly in the 2004 presidential election where Gay and Lesbian issues played an unprecedented role at both the national and local levels. In 2003, when San Francisco issued civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples, incidents of violence rose over 14 percent throughout the city.

"When I run for office, I want to be sure that I am judged on my knowledge, experience and integrity, and not viewed on stereotypes or hate," said Marina Gatto, a 16-year-old Gay rights activist. "AB 866 is a common sense measure; it is an important and vital step towards equality, and it deserves the support of every legislator as well as everyone in our community."



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