The California State Assembly today approved two pro-LGBT bills -- one banning travel to states with discriminatory laws, the other calling for gender-neutral restrooms -- and sent them on to the Senate for consideration.
By a bipartisan vote of 54-21, the chamber passed Assemblymember Evan Low's bill to ban nonessential state-funded travel to North Carolina,Mississippi, and other states that "sanction or require discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression," according to a press release from Low's office. The bill was also sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
At least five states have already banned such travel to North Carolina by executive order, as have numerous cities, and some have included Mississippi as well. If the California bill becomes law, it "would add the clout of the nation's most populous state to the unofficial boycott," Low and Equality California executive director Rick Zbur wrote in a recent Advocate commentary.
"AB 1887 sends a clear message that we do not tolerate discrimination in California or anywhere beyond our borders," Low said in his press release today. "Just as we strive to be a state that provides equal opportunity for all, we should not be spending our tax dollars in states that allow discrimination toward the LGBT community. We are stronger by being inclusive," he added.
The bill will probably be heard in a Senate committee in late June at the earliest, then go to the full Senate in early August, an aide to Low told The Advocate.
Also today, by a vote of 55-19, the Assembly passed Assemblymember Phil Ting's AB 1732 concerning restroom access, and it also now goes to the Senate. It would require all single-occupancy restrooms in California to be universally accessible and identified as all-gender. According to Ting, it would establish the most inclusive restroom policy in the nation.
"We just sent a powerful message to the nation," Ting said in a press release. "This is a simple, safe, and respectful alternative to the hate being legislated in other states. Restrooms are a necessity of life, making equal access to them a civil rights issue. Gender-segregated access to a solitary restroom defies common sense. This bill moves us in a direction where everyone's rights are respected and protected."
The bill has the support of Equality California, the Transgender Law Center, and the California chapter of the National Organization for Women. "All Californians should have the same freedom to participate in public life, go about their day, and use the bathroom when they need it," said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, in Ting's press release. "By making single-user restrooms accessible to all genders, this law will make life easier for everyone and reduce the harassment regularly experienced by transgender people and others who don't match people's stereotypes of what it looks like to be a man or a woman."