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California senate
passes two pro-gay bills

California senate
passes two pro-gay bills

The California senate has recently passed two pro-gay bills. The Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act would instruct the judicial council to provide instruction to jurors stating that a defendant's bias against a person's sexual orientation or gender identity should not be considered when deciding a verdict. The bill also states that the Office of Emergency Services must create training manuals for district attorneys to address the use of so-called panic defenses in hate crimes. The panic defense, in which a defendant claims to have panicked when discovering the victim's sexual orientation or identity, was a major factor in the case of Gwen Araujo--a transgender teen who was brutally murdered in 2002.

Authorized by assemblywoman Sally Lieber and sponsored by Equality California, the bill is due to return to the assembly this week for agreement by members and then be sent to the governor's office for approval.

"This bill will help ensure that those who commit heinous acts of violence, like those inflicted upon Gwen Araujo, will no longer gainthe sympathy of a jury by appealing to bias and prejudice as a way to avoid punishment for their crimes," said Equality California executive directorGeoff Kors. "In conjunction with California's existing hate-crimes law, this bill makes it clear that violence based on bias andhate will not be tolerated in California."

The other bill, Assembly Bill 2051, calls for a fee on domestic partnerships. The registration fee will provide education andservices to victims ofsame-sexdomestic violence. "AB2051 is the first bill of its kind in California, and I commend my colleagues for taking a stand against domestic violence in all its forms by passing this bill," said assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn. "Domestic violence is a serious issue for all Californians, and targeting some resources to same-sex couples is not only necessary but just simply good public policy." (The Advocate)

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