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.
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)