PolitiCal

On politics in the Golden State

Category: Gay Rights

Brown appeals injunction against gay-conversion law

APphoto_Jerry Brown Year Ahead(2)
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday appealed a court injunction that has blocked  enforcement of a new law that prohibits providing gay minors with therapy aimed at converting them to being heterosexual.

The notice of appeal was filed on behalf of Brown and the Medical Board of California by state Atty.  Gen. Kamala Harris with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided Dec. 21 to block the law that took effect Jan. 1 pending a decision on its constitutionality.

A small group of therapists and religious groups argued that the law infringes on their rights to free speech, but Harris has called conversion therapy "unsound and harmful."

Harris asked the court Wednesday to look at a recent decision by U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller upholding the law.

"Defendants wish to apprise the 9th Circuit of a related case currently pending before it … denying a motion for a preliminary injunction that would have enjoined enforcement of Senate Bill 1172," Harris wrote. "Both appeals involve the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1172 and raise the same and/or closely related legal issues."

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 Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit: Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli.

 

 

Judge blocks ban on gay 'conversion' therapy

A federal judge on Monday blocked California from enforcing its new ban on therapy that seeks to change the sexual orientation of minors from gay to straight.

U.S. District Judge William Shubb ruled that the new law, SB 1172, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year, may inhibit the 1st Amendment rights of therapists who oppose homosexuality. The judge signed a temporary injunction that prohibits the state from enforcing the ban, the first of its kind in the nation, against the three plaintiffs in the suit pending trial.

The plaintiffs are represented by the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, which expressed confidence that the injunction could also apply to other therapists who choose to be added as plaintiffs.

Shubb wrote in his 38-page ruling that the new law, by state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) “likely… bans a mental health provider from expressing his or her viewpoints about homosexuality as part of…treatment.”

The judge also found fault with the evidence cited by proponents of the law that conversion therapy puts patients at risk of suicide. He wrote in his ruling that it is “based on questionable and scientifically incomplete studies that may not have included minors.”

The plaintiffs in the case include a licensed marriage therapist and ordained minister, a psychiatrist and a former conversion therapy patient who is studying to practice the therapy on others.

"This victory sends a clear signal to all those who feel they can stifle religious freedom, free speech, and the rights of parents without being contested," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute .

The ban on conversion therapy was one of the signature laws passed in the last legislative session. Its approval followed a fierce lobbying campaign by gay-rights groups. The law had been set to take effect in January.

When Brown signed SB 1172, he said in a statement, "these practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."

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California prison manuals change with the sexual times

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-- Evan Halper in Sacramento

California prison manuals change with the sexual times

Lisa Thomas Strawn

California prison officials are revising official procedures and even prison garb to get up to date with changing mental and medical treatment of inmates who identify with one sex and their bodies, another.

The state issued part of an updated operations manual this week that directs employees to stop using the prior official term, "effeminate homosexual." Those inmates are now to be called "transgendered," in keeping with current nomenclature used by the medical and mental health fields.

Services for transgender inmates also are being expanded, and a provision for clothing accommodations has been added. Transgender inmates, if they ask, can receive a state-issued bra or boxer shorts.

California already pays for hormone treatment for transgender inmates already taking the drugs when incarcerated.

The challenge of where and how to house transgender inmates has been an issue in California prisons. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 vetoed a bill that would have required corrections officials to consider an inmate's sexual identity when deciding where to put him.

A transgender inmate at the men's prison in Vacaville last year lost her lawsuit demanding that California pay for sex-change surgery for those who request it. 

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Photo: Transgender inmate Thomas "Lisa" Strawn applies eyeliner. A UC Irvine study found that transgender inmates were 13 times more likely to face sexual assault than other inmates. Brian van der Brug/LA Times. 


California lawmakers call for Navy ship to be named after Harvey Milk

Getprev

State lawmakers have no power to name U.S. Navy ships, but that didn't discourage the state Senate on Monday from a long, passionate debate over a proposal to name a vessel after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk.

State Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) introduced a resolution urging the Navy to name a ship for Milk, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who was assassinated by a political rival.

Kehoe noted that Milk began his public service in the Navy, serving during the Korean War as a diver aboard the submarine rescue ship Kittiwake and later as a diving instructor before eventually leaving the Navy as a lieutenant.

"It's more than appropriate to my constituents and to all of us that Harvey Milk be remembered for his service in the U.S. military,'' Kehoe said.

But Republican senators opposed the resolution, saying Navy ships are traditionally named after states, cities, presidents and admirals. They said Milk's military record did not rise to the level of justifying his name on a ship.

"This is political correctness moving a little farther out of control,'' said Sen. Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale) during the floor debate. "I think it would be demoralizing to many of the folks who would be stationed aboard such a vessel.''

Kehoe noted that President Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Milk, and that the state has designated May 22 annually as "Harvey Milk Day.'' In the end, Senate Resolution 36 was approved on a 25-8 vote, with no Republicans voting in favor.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento 

Photo: San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, right, and Supervisor Harvey Milk after the signing of the city's landmark gay rights law in 1977. Credit: Associated Press

California politicians praise Obama's support for same-sex marriage

Top California politicians hailed President Obama's statement of support for same-sex marriage on Wednesday.

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), the first openly gay person to hold that position, said he was "very proud" of the president's statement, made in an interview with ABC News.

"As with many Americans, his views on this issue have evolved toward an embrace of dignity, respect and justice for every American," Perez said in a statement.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has pushed the Democratic Party to include the issue in its national platform, said on Twitter that "love doesn't care if you're gay or straight. Love doesn't discriminate."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) issued his own statement saying, "I have never been more proud of our President than I am today." He added, "Denying the right for any two people to marry is discrimination."

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, another outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, called Obama's comments a "historic moment" on Twitter. "So proud to see our President come out in support of marriage equality and full equal rights for ALL Americans," he wrote.

Same-sex marriage was briefly legal in California, thanks to a state Supreme Court decision in 2008, but voters passed Proposition 8 later that year, banning it with a constitutional amendment.

[Updated 5:10 p.m.: Gov. Jerry Brown refused to defend Proposition 8 in court when he was attorney general. He posted on Twitter that, "Equality before the law is a pillar of American democracy. I applaud President Obama's support for the right of same-sex couples to marry."]

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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Lawmakers oppose gay-to-straight conversion therapy for minors

Psychotherapists in California would be prohibited from trying to "convert" minors from being gay to heterosexual under a bill approved Tuesday by a Senate panel.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said he introduced the measure because of concern about the use of "conversion therapy" which he said is based on the false assumption of some people that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured. He said some patients experience guilt, anger and depression after therapy.

"Not only does it not work, there is evidence it is dangerous," Lieu told the Senate Judiciary Committee before its three Democrats voted to send the measure to the Senate floor. The American Psychological Assn. in 2009 urged mental health professionals to avoid telling clients they can change their sexual orientation through therapy. The bill was backed Tuesday by groups including Equality California.

But the bill drew opposition from other groups including the California Psychiatric Assn. based on concern that it was too broadly written. "It will stop the conversation of somebody saying `I have some feelings and I would like to talk to you about it,'" said Amanda Levy of the California Psychological Assn.

The bill was also opposed by David Pickup, a Glendale psychotherapist who represents the National Assn. for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality. He said it would prevent theraputic help to young rape victims with sexuality questions.

Matthew McReynolds, an attorney for the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, warned the committee that the bill violates constitutional protections by "banning an entire category of speech based on the content of that speech."

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Lawmakers tussle over resolutions honoring Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts
Add the Boy Scouts to the list of hot topics in the Capitol.

A key Assembly committee on Tuesday killed one resolution honoring the Boy Scouts of America and passed another encouraging the organization to lift its ban on gay members.

Officials at the Boy Scouts of America, which has an oath calling for members to be "morally straight," maintain they have the right as a private group to exclude gays from their ranks. That position was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 but has led many state and local governments to deny support for the group.

On Tuesday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee heard two competing resolutions. Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) pushed ACR 94, which would honor the history and contributions of the Boy Scouts on the group's 102nd anniversary. But, according to a 16-page committee analysis of the measure, the Legislature has rejected at least half a dozen similar resolutions over the last decade because their authors failed to mention the organization's "anachronistic discriminatory policies" and urge change.

For that reason, the committee killed Morrell's measure on a party-line vote, 3-7, with Republicans supporting the resolution and Democrats opposing it.

The panel passed a separate measure by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the committee, that honors the Boy Scouts while urging the group "to accept for membership and leadership positions all qualified boys and men, without discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or religious belief."

According to the 14-page analysis of ACR 128, Feuer offered to drop his resolution if Morrell would amend his own measure to include that language. The GOP lawmaker refused.

In an interview, Morrell said he didn't want to politicize the Boy Scouts.

"My goal was simple: recognizing the great accomplishments and traditions of the millions of youths who have served their communities for the past 102 years," he said. "I didn’t want to insert something in there telling them how to run their organization."

Democrats, he said, are "imposing their will on a private, nonprofit organization and they wanted to make it a political statement."

Feuer's resolution says the Boy Scouts' ban on gays is contrary to the state's policy on discrimination.

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Twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts America Pack 862 from Torrance salute at Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Day  2010. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times.

Proposition 8 ruling sparks applause from California politicians

 Prop8.08

Proposition 8's demise at the hands of a federal court was roundly praised by California's top elected officials on Tuesday.

"The court has rendered a powerful affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry," Gov. Jerry Brown, who as attorney general declined to defend the ballot measure in court, said in a statement. "I applaud the wisdom and courage of this decision."

The current attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, said in a statement: "Today's ruling is a victory for fairness, a victory for equality and a victory for justice."

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who kicked off California's gay-marriage debate in 2004 when, as mayor of San Francisco, he ordered the city to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, also cheered the ruling, as did former San Francisco Mayor and current U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The state's top two legislators, both Democrats like every statewide officeholder, also praised the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal. "This is another proud moment for Californians of conscience," Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), who is openly gay, said in a statement.

The leader of the upper chamber of the legislature, State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said: "Every big step forward is a step closer to eliminating discrimination in our society."

The few catcalls against the decision in Sacramento reflect the one-party nature of the town nowadays. A relatively modest portion of the small number of Republican lawmakers issued statements. Those accused the judges of ignoring the will of the people.

"Our democracy is based on the power of individuals and their right to express their voice through the ballot box," said State Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster). “This court decision not only disregarded voters’ rights, it muffled their democratic freedoms.”

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Photo: John Lewis, center, and others cheer as Molly McKay reads the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal decision ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional in front of the James Browning United States Courthouse in San Francisco. Credit: Dan Honda / Contra Costa Times

Gay groups endorse candidates

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details:

Some prominent area gay rights groups have endorsed candidates — all of them Democrats - -in several hot races.

HONOR PAC, a Los Angeles-based advocacy organization for Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people announced its endorsements of several openly gay candidates.

They are businesswoman Laurette Healey for the 46th Assembly District in the San Fernando Valley;  Assemblyman Ricardo Lara  of Bell Gardens, who is running in the 33rd State Senate District; Los Angeles planning official Luis Lopez, who is running for the open 51st Assembly District seat on L.A.’s East Side; community activist Torie Osborn, who is running in the 50th Assembly District on the Westside; Assembly Speaker John A. Perez of Los Angeles, who is seeking reelection from the 46th District, and Deputy Dist. Atty. Mario Trujillo, who is running for Los Angeles County district attorney.

HONOR PAC also is supporting Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon in his race for Assembly District 39 in the Valley.  The organization endorsed Alarcon as an “ally candidate,” a straight person who has demonstrated concern and support  regarding issues important to the group.

The Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club said it is backing Rep. Janice Hahn of San Pedro in her contest for the newly drawn 44th Congressional District  and state Sen. Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, who is running for Congress from the new 47th District.

The Stonewall Democratic Club also has made some endorsements.  It chose  Rep. Brad Sherman over Rep. Howard Berman in their costly fight for the newly drawn 30th Congressional District in the San Fernando Valley.

The Stonewall Club also is supporting Luis Lopez and Torie Osborn, their campaigns announced.

[For the record, 10:26 a.m., Jan 20: An earlier version of this post incorrectly labeled Mario Trujillo as an assistant district attorney.]

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Gov. Brown signs bill requiring teaching of gay accomplishments [Updated]

Lm4t01nc Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday that makes California the first state in the nation to require the inclusion of the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans in school history lessons and textbooks.

The legislation addresses omissions in history books, according to Gil Duran, a spokesman for the governor.

[Updated at 1:07 p.m.: Brown issued a statement in which he called the legislation an "important step forward for our state.’’

"History should be honest,’’ Brown said. "This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books.’’]

"It’s an important step forward for the state of California,’’ Duran said. "It revises existing law to make sure people are not excluded from history books. History should reflect reality."

The bill by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) had sparked hot debate in the Legislature where it was pushed through by the Democratic majority. Republicans argued it forces a "gay agenda" on students, but Leno said it would reduce bullying by educating young people about the accomplishments of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community.

“Today we are making history in California by ensuring that our textbooks and instructional materials no longer exclude the contributions of LGBT Americans,” Leno said.  “Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them.’’

The governor’s decision was criticized by Benjamin Lopez of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition, who said the schools should be focusing on doing better on important skills such as reading, writing and math.

"It’s a sad day for the state of California,’’ said Lopez, legislative analyst and advocate for the group. "We have failed at our core educational mission and yet we are now going to inject gay studies into the classrooms. It's absurd and offensive.’’

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Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown addresses  the California State Assn. of Counties legislative conference in Sacramento on June 1. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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