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CALIFORNIA ALLIANCE FOR PRIDE AND EQUALITY

GENDER NON-DISCRIMINATION BILL PASSES KEY ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

Press Release

    CALIFORNIA ALLIANCE FOR PRIDE AND EQUALITY (CAPE)
    Promoting Equal Rights for the LGBT Community and All Californians

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (March 19, 2003)
    Contact: Geoffrey Kors, 415-816-4717 or Ilona Turner, 916-554-7681


CAPE-SPONSORED GENDER NON-DISCRIMINATION BILL PASSES KEY ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE
Bill Authored by Assemblyman Mark Leno Passes with Support of Community and Business Leaders

SACRAMENTO - The California State Assembly's Labor & Employment Committee today passed a historic civil rights measure, sponsored by the California Alliance for Pride and Equality (CAPE), to prohibit housing and workplace discrimination based on gender characteristics. The bill, AB 196, is authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and co-authored by the four other members of the Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus. The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

"AB 196 will provide critical protections for those who are fired, evicted, or experience serious harassment because they are perceived as gender non-conforming," stated Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of CAPE. AB 196,  the Gender Non-discrimination Act of 2003, clarifies that the state's  prohibition of sex discrimination also prohibits discrimination based on gender-related characteristics, including transgender status. The bill is supported by a broad coalition of organizations, including the California Labor Federation, the NAACP, and the California Commission on the Status of  Women.

Leno affirmed, "The right to employment and housing is a basic human right. No one should ever lose a home or job because of gender characteristics which have nothing to do with one's qualifications."

Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, explained that courts, as well as California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing, usually interpret sex discrimination laws to include discrimination based on gender stereotyping. "The insidious nature of discrimination based on gender non-conformity has been recognized and redressed by many courts. Amending California law to protect all citizens from this type of discrimination is long overdue."

Kors observed, "This bill is good for business and property owners, as well as employees and tenants, because it will explicitly clarify what constitutes illegal discrimination. AB 196 will help everyone understand  the law by making clear the rules that already exist." Kors noted that a growing number of businesses and property owners have written letters in support of the bill, including the Greater San Diego Business Association and the California Apartment Association.

"We commend the Assemblymembers who helped advance this important civil  rights bill with their votes today," continued Kors. "We also thank  Assemblymember Leno and the entire LGBT Caucus for officially designating AB 196 as one of their top priorities for the year. We are confident that this measure will handily pass both houses of the Legislature and gain the signature of Governor Davis."

The votes on AB 196 today were as follows:
6 Ayes: Chu, Hancock, Koretz, Laird, Mullin, Negrete McLeod
1 No: Houston
1 Not Voting: Shirley Horton

Founded in 1998, CAPE is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. CAPE is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. CAPE can be contacted through our website at www.calcape.org.

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