Mark Leno Hub

California Senate Passes Bill Requiring Students Learn Gay History

Over the weekend, Steve posted about the bill making its way through the California legislature that would require schools teach gay history. The California Senate has advanced that bill, the AP reports:

LenoIf the bill is adopted by the state Assembly and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, California would become the first state to require the teaching of gay history.

Supporters say the move is needed to counter anti-gay stereotypes and beliefs that make children in those groups vulnerable to bullying and suicide. Opponents counter that such instruction would further burden an already crowded curriculum and expose students to a subject that some parents find objectionable.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, passed on a 23-14 party line vote. It also would add disabled people to the curriculum. The bill gives school districts flexibility in deciding what to include in the lessons and at what grades students would receive them.

But starting in the 2013-14 school year, it would prohibit districts and the California Board of Education from using textbooks or other instructional materials that reflect adversely on gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Wrote Steve:

Naturally, wingnuts opposed to the blll have branded it "the worst school sexual indoctrination ever" and "sexual brainwashing." They've already begun an anti-SB 48 campaign wherein they attempt to "scare" fellow bigots into thinking the bill "normalizes homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism." 

Schwarzenegger told 'Kiss My Gay Ass' at SF Democratic Fundraiser


California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received a hostile reception after showing up announced at a Democratic Party fundraiser at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel last night, including shouts of "you lie" and "kiss my gay ass," reportedly made by State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

Ammiano later said: "This isn't a chamber where someone suffers through. This is our house -- and it's like someone came in and took a big dump. He showed up; it was rude, he got up there and it felt to us that he was trivializing all the issues we care about. You have a few options, and along with the labor people, we walked out."

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Schwarzenegger told 'Kiss My Gay Ass' at SF Democratic Fundraiser" »

Equality California Delivers 40K 'Harvey Milk Day' Petitions to Guv


Eauality California's Geoff Kors (above) and State Senator Mark Leno (below) delivered 40,000 petitions bearing the signatures of Californians to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, urging him to sign into law the 'Harvey Milk Day' bill.

It's a bill Schwarzenegger vetoed last year. Since that time, Milk has been awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom and is on the list to be inducted (by Schwarzenegger) into the California Hall of Fame.

Also on hand (above) was Equality California's Government Affairs Director Alice Kessler and NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell (not pictured).


Harvey Milk Day Passes Assembly, Faces Potential Veto Again

The California Assembly passed the 'Harvey Milk Day' bill for the second year in a row yesterday:

Harveymilk "The California Assembly today passed legislation that creates Harvey Milk Day in California, honoring the state´s first openly gay elected official. Senate Bill 572, authored by Senator Mark Leno, cleared the Assembly with a 45-27 vote. The bill, which designates May 22 as a day of special significance in California, returns to the Senate for concurrence before going to the governor´s desk."

Said Leno following the vote: "I am pleased my colleagues in the Assembly recognize and honor Harvey Milk´s contributions to our state. He is an inspiration to people worldwide who believe in fairness and equality and he fought for many of the issues we value today, including access to education, public transportation, affordable housing and protecting the environment. Although he vetoed a similar bill last year with the message that Harvey Milk should be recognized only at the local level, I am confident Governor Schwarzenegger now understands the historic and international nature of Harvey´s legacy. Last week the Governor contradicted his 2008 veto message when he and the First Lady announced that Harvey will be inducted into the California Hall of Fame, acknowledging that Harvey and the other inductees touched the 'lives of millions of people – not just in this state, but around the world.'"

However, it's still possible that Schwarzenegger could veto the measure, given the pressure he's receiving from religious conservatives. Equality California has provided numbers you can call to reach the governor and let him know that you want Harvey Milk Day passed in California. Find them HERE.

Also, watch Dustin Lance Black's testimony before the assembly, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Harvey Milk Day Passes Assembly, Faces Potential Veto Again" »

California Bill Would Recognize Same-Sex Marriages from Elsewhere

SB54, a bill sponsored by State senator Mark Leno seeks to force California to decide how to treat out-of-state same-sex marriages since the Supreme Court's Proposition 8 decision did not address the topic. Currently, approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages valid before Prop. 8 passed are still legal as the Court allowed them to stand, but there is currently no statue directing how the state should recognize a same-sex couple married in Iowa, Massachusetts, or anywhere else it is legal.

The Sacramento Bee reports: Leno "The high court did not address how to treat out-of-state marriages, explaining in a footnote that none of the parties involved in lawsuits represented such interests. In that vacuum, Leno is arguing the Legislature's role should be to clarify the rights of same-sex couples who live in California but wed elsewhere, or couples who might move or travel here in the future...Frank Schubert, who was the campaign manager for Proposition 8, disagrees. He predicts a court battle over the law should it pass and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sign it. "Our argument is that the people amended the constitution and do not approve of same-sex marriage," he said. There's nothing in the court's Proposition 8 decision, Schubert said, that should lead gay couples to think they can transfer marriage rights to California because they wed in another country or any of the six states that now allow gay marriage. Leno's bill would declare that any same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions before Proposition 8 be recognized on par with marriages that took place in California."

U.S. State Dept. Condemns Violence Against Gays in Iraq

The U.S. State Department ended its many months of silence and acknowledged and condemned the violence against gays in Iraq after a question from a reporter.

Sadrcity Said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly on Wednesday: "In general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is an issue that we've been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations. Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights. Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors' civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the US embassy in Baghdad has raised, and will continue to raise, the issue with senior officials from the government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis."

In related news, Democrats in the California legislature have called upon President Obama to do something about the violence:

"The state lawmakers who sent a letter to Obama say there have been increasing attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iraqis. The letter states the effort has been led by police ordered to 'clean up' the streets.  It said 63 people have been tortured or killed this year as a result of religious decrees against gays and lesbians. The lawmakers, led by San Francisco Democratic Sen. Mark Leno, say the U.S. should not spend U.S. tax dollars to bring democracy to Iraq and then overlook abuse. The effort, announced publicly Thursday, is supported by 45 of the Legislature's 74 Democrats."

Also in related news, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted the State Department Authorization bill (HR 2410) on Wednesday: "The bill was adopted over Republican objections that 'social issues such as gay rights and abortion have no place in a State Department funding bill.'  But the bill does not focus on social issues, it merely creates mechanisms to improve the U.S. government's support for basic human rights, including the rights of women and of LGBT communities abroad."


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