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04/19/2007


California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Law Making Transgender Birth Certificate Alterations Easier

Exciting news out of the Golden State! California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday that will make it easier for transgender Californians to obtain a birth certificate with sex and name alterations. Previously, a court order was necessary, a costly and public affair that infringed on the wallets and privacy of those attempting to obtain proper documents.  

JerrybrownThe Associated Press reports:

Currently, people born in California can only get their birth certificates amended by court order, a process that transgender rights advocates argued is expensive and needlessly invasive since a legal notice of the requested changes has to be published in a newspaper.

The bill the governor signed Tuesday, AB1121 by San Diego Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, authorizes the state registrar to issue a birth certificate with a corrected sex to a transgender person who provides proof of having undergone appropriate medical treatment.

Judges will still have to sign off on name changes, but will be able to do so without holding a formal hearing. The law also eliminates the legal notice requirement.

Congratulations to all those impacted positively by this new law. It is nice to see progressive lawmaking for the transgender community, which also recently saw support from the Social Security Administration. Of course, the California GOP constituency is backing the repeal of the recently passed transgender student protection law, and transgender students around the country are receiving mixed feedback from peers following homecoming queen and king wins. Still, the small steps are exciting and, in many ways, life-changing.  


Same-Sex Couples Will Have Equal Access to Fertility Coverage Under New California Law

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This Tuesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that would allow unmarried and same-sex couples to access insurance coverage for the same fertility treatments that married, different-sex couples are provided, the AP reported:

The legislation, AB460, clarifies the non-discrimination provision of an existing state law that requires health plans to offer coverage for fertility treatments, except for in vitro fertilization.

Despite the existing law, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said many same-sex couples have been denied the coverage. In praising Brown's signature on his bill, Ammiano said reproductive medicine should be for the benefit of everyone.

"To restrict fertility coverage solely to heterosexual married couples violates California's non-discrimination laws," he said in a statement. "I wrote this bill to correct that."

The new law will take effect in January, and contains language prohibiting insurance plans that offer fertility coverage from discriminating on any grounds, including "domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status ... sex or sexual orientation."

Fertility issues for same-sex couples can be a hot-button issue, politically: when the French legislature approved a bill legalizing marriage equality in the country, fertility rights were left out of the debate.


CA Governor Jerry Brown Signs Bill Allowing Children to Have More Than Two Legal Parents

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On a busy bill-signing day last Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown gave his signature of approval to legislation that will allow children in the state to have more than two legal parents. LA Times reports that Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) authored the bill to better address the custody and financial responsibilities of same-sex couples who have a child with an opposite-sex biological parent.

Mark Leno"Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them," Leno (pictured right) said. "It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent."

The bill was partially a reaction to a 2011 court decision involving a lesbian couple that briefly ended their relationship, according to Leno's office. One of the women was impregnated by a man before the women resumed their relationship. A fight broke out, putting one of the women in the hospital and the other in jail, but the daughter was sent to foster care because her biological father did not have parental rights.

Conservative groups in the state, including the Pacific Justice Institute, opposed the measure on the grounds that it was an attack on the traditional family and would be detrimental to children.

"This is in the long run going to be a mistake," [PJI president Brad] Dacus said. "The ones who are going to pay the price are not the activists, but it's going to be children, who will see greater conflict and indecision over matters involving their well-being."

Brown vetoed a similar bill last year that allowed a judge to recognize a third parent "in the best interest of the child." This year's version was narrower and will allow such a declaration only when the judge finds that failing to recognize more than two parents would be harmful to the child. 


CA Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Into Law Landmark Protections For Transgender Students

6a00d8341c730253ef019103dad489970c-800wiCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law a bill that will provide unprecedented protections for transgender students in the Golden State, the San Jose Mercury News reports:

California on Monday became the first state to enshrine certain rights for transgender K-12 students in state law, requiring public schools to allow those students access to whichever restroom and locker room they want.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he had signed AB1266, which also will allow transgender students to choose whether they want to play boys' or girls' sports. The new law gives students the right "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities" based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.

Supporters said it will help reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender students. It comes as the families of transgender students have been waging local battles with school districts across the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use, disagreements that have sometimes landed in court.

Prior to signing the bill, Governor Brown received a petition from transgender high school student Ashton Leigh who had garnered 6,000 signatures in support of the proposed legislation. The bill, named the School Success and Opportunity Act, was introduced by assembly member Tom Ammiano and coauthored by Senator Mark Leno and Senator Ricardo Lara. Carlos Alcala, a spokesman for Ammiano, commented that the bill will help transgendered students have a more normal life during their high school tenure:

Dunk"They're not interested in going into bathrooms and flaunting their physiology...Clearly, there are some parents who are not going to like it. We are hopeful school districts will work with them so no students are put in an uncomfortable position."

Wilson Cruz, GLAAD's national spokesman, praised the bill's passing:

"Well done California for passing a law that protects transgender students from discrimination in their own schools and affirms their identities. This is another step to ensuring that transgender students have the same opportunities at learning and school involvement as all other students."

This comes as the second victory for transgender students in California within the last month. At the end of July, the Departments of Education and Justice found that transgendered students were protected under Title IX and Title VII. The DOJ and DOE's findings were related to a discrimination complaint brought against Arcadia Unified School District in California.


CA Governor Jerry Brown Orders State's Counties to Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples ASAP

California Governor Jerry Brown issued this statement today on the Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8:

Brown"After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California. In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state's counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted."

The Governor's office adds:

The effect of today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling is that the 2010 federal district court's decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional is left intact and the law cannot be enforced.

In response, the Governor has directed the California Department of Public Health to advise county officials today that the district court's injunction against Proposition 8 applies statewide and that all county clerks and county registrar/recorders must comply with it. However, same-sex Californians will not be able to marry until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirms the stay of the injunction, which has been in place throughout the appeals process, is lifted.

In preparation for this outcome, Governor Brown sought an opinion from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris on whether the state, through the California Department of Public Health, can advise county clerks and registrar/recorders that they are bound by the federal district court's ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

The Attorney General concluded that the California Department of Public Health "can and should" instruct county officials that they "must resume issuing marriage licenses to and recording the marriages of same-sex" couples. The Department will issue another letter to county officials as soon as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirms the stay is lifted.

The Department of Public Health letter to county officials can be found here. Harris's letter to Brown can be found here.


Same-Sex Marriage To Resume In California Within Weeks

In the wake of today's Supreme Court ruling on Prop. 8, overturning it on the grounds of standing, Governor Jerry Brown has announced that same-sex marriage is to resume in California within weeks, the LA Times reports:

California“'I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted,' Brown said in a statement."

Local officials in California say they're prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as they get the official go-ahead:

“'We’re pretty much ready to go,' said Cathy Darling Allen, the clerk for Shasta County and the head of the California Assn. of Clerks and Election officials. 'In 2008, we had some assistance from the state Department of Public Health in making marriage license forms gender neutral. We continue to use those forms today. So the mechanics of the process are ready to go.'"

The LA Times also reports that California Attorney General Kamala Harris will be issuing a statement later today providing further details as to the state's plans for re-implementation.  Though rulings issued by the Supreme Court tend to take 25 to 30 days to take effect, there is some speculation that same-sex marriage could resume sooner given that the lower courts had already ruled against Prop. 8.


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