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Gavin Newsom Vetoes Bill Requiring Custody Decisions Involve Affirming Children’s Gender Identity

Gavin Newsom Vetoes Bill Requiring Custody Decisions Involve Affirming Children’s Gender Identity

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
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California Go. Gavin Newsom released a veto letter saying that he was still committed to advancing transgender rights.

@wgacooper

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, vetoed a bill on Friday that would have made judges ruling in child custody cases consider whether a child’s parents were affirming of the child’s gender identity.

The bill — called the TGI (Transgender, Gender-Diverse, and Intersex) Youth Empowerment Act — had been condemned by the right. Critics said that the legislation would force parents who didn’t support their trans children to lose custody. However, the wording of the bill doesn’t refer to specific actions required to affirm the child’s gender identity.

The legislation, officially titled Assembly Bill 957, would have changed California law to include the affirmation as part of deciding the custody or visitation rights given to a parent.

Newsom released a letter with his veto saying that he still had “a deep commitment to advancing the rights of transgender Californians," but he found an issue with the legislative branch of government forcing a requirement on the judicial branch. He also said that courts already take the child’s well-being into account when making custody decisions.

"That said, I urge caution when the executive and legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate — in prescriptive terms that single out one characteristic — legal standards for the judicial branch to apply," Newsom wrote. "Other-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities."

California Assemblymember Lori D. Wilson, a Democrat, voiced disappointment in Newsom’s veto.

"I've been disheartened over the last few years as I watched the rising hate and heard the vitriol towards the trans community," Wilson said in a statement. "My intent with this bill was to give them a voice, particularly in the family court system where a non-affirming parent could have a detrimental impact on the mental health and well-being of a child."

Wilson is a mother of a trans child.

Gay California state Sen. Scott Wiener took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and said it was a “tragedy” that the bill was vetoed.

“These kids are living in fear, with right-wing politicians working to out them, deny them health care, ban them from sports & restrooms & erase their humanity,” he wrote. “CA needs to unequivocally stand with these kids.”

"Our job as legislators is to set clear standards for judges to apply and that's what we did here," he added.

Wiener added that the veto stood in contrast to Newsom’s mostly positive LGBTQ+ rights record, noting Newsom had been "a true champion."

"Respectfully, however, this veto is a mistake," he wrote.

LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality California said it was "disappointed" in Newsom's decision.

"At a time where LGBTQ+ youth, specifically trans youth are facing higher rates of depression and suicide, reassurance and protection from our state is in dire need. Anti-LGBTQ+ extremists targeted this modest and straightforward legislation as part of their coordinated attacks on trans youth in California, and the failure to enact this bill bolsters their dangerous efforts," the group's executive director Tony Hoang said in a release, adding Equality California appreciated the work by Wilson.

The bill now heads back to the state’s legislature and will need a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override the veto.

@wgacooper
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