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SACRAMENTO, Calif. Aug. 30, 2019 — The California Assembly Appropriations Committees blocked bipartisan legislation that would have prevented the unjust and discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ young people during Friday’s suspense file hearing. Supported by law enforcement and civil rights organizations, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) SB 145 would have addressed the state’s discriminatory practice of treating LGBTQ young people differently than their non-LGBTQ peers when they engage in voluntary sexual activity. The current discriminatory law was written in the 1940s, decades before California decriminalized same-sex adult relationships in 1975. SB 145 would not legalize any kind of sex with a minor and would not change the potential sentence for having sex with an underage person. Rather, the bill would simply give judges the ability to evaluate whether or not to require LGBTQ young people to register as a sex offender — discretion that already exists for their non-LGBTQ peers.
Equality California released the following statement from Executive Director Rick Zbur:
“Today, we are extremely disappointed with Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez for allowing an outdated law that discriminates against LGBTQ people to remain on the books. Law enforcement, sexual assault survivors and civil rights groups alike support this bipartisan bill because it would make California’s sex offender registry more effective and end blatant anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
“Regrettably, this is not the first time that this Committee, led by this Chair, has stood in the way of LGBTQ civil rights legislation and demonstrated a lack of understanding of LGBTQ civil rights issues. The impact of today’s decision is neither hypothetical nor abstract. When this Committee and this Chair refuse to listen to law enforcement, sexual assault survivors and civil rights organizations, Californians suffer as a result.
“We will not stop fighting for this common-sense fix because California’s LGBTQ young people deserve better. We all deserve better.”
SB 145 is cosponsored by Equality California and the LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and supported by the ACLU of California, California District Attorney’s Association, California Police Chief’s Association, California Public Defenders Association and California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, among others.
SB 145 will now become a two-year bill, eligible for consideration in 2020. For a complete list of Equality California’s 2019 sponsored legislation, visit eqca.org/legislation.
In 2017, the Assembly Appropriations Committee blocked bipartisan LGBTQ civil rights legislation authored by Senator Wiener and co-sponsored by Equality California and District Attorney Lacey that provided relief to LGBTQ people who had previously been required to register as sex offenders for life under laws that unfairly targeted and entrapped gay men. The bill was later revived and passed on the Assembly Floor as SB 384 and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
In 2017, the Assembly Appropriations Committee also blocked AB 800 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and AB 1161 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), legislation that would have addressed the rising levels of hate crimes in California, including those targeting members of the LGBTQ community. Those bills, respectively, would have established a statewide hotline where people could safely report hate crimes and would have given local law enforcement additional tools and information to investigate hate crimes and prevent them before they occurred. Because neither of those bills, nor two others that focused on hate crimes, survived the Assembly Appropriations Committee in 2017, California did not enact any legislation to address the increase in hate crimes that year.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org