The California state assembly's labor and employment committee passed a civil rights measure Wednesday to prohibit housing and workplace discrimination based on gender characteristics. The bill, AB 196, is authored by openly gay assembly member Mark Leno and coauthored by the four other members of the legislative lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender 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 nonconforming," stated Geoffrey Kors, executive director of the California Alliance for Pride and Equality.
AB 196 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. "The right to employment and housing is a basic human right," said Leno. "No one should ever lose a home or job because of gender characteristics which have nothing to do with one's qualifications."