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CA Legislature Passes WomenÕs, Gay Rights Bills

In another landmark vote for California’s legislature, the state Senate passed a bill yesterday that will allow women and men who are victims of gender-based crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault to bring civil action against their attackers for “actual, compensatory, and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs,” according to the author of the bill, Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson (D). Sponsored by the California National Organization for Women, the “Violence Against WomenÑCivil Remedy” bill is modeled after a civil remedy provision originally contained in the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Morrison (2000) that the states, not Congress, had the right to enact this provision. California is the first state to pass legislation ensuring that women have civil rights protection against the costs associated with gender-based violence. As the bill has already passed the Assembly, it now goes to Gov. Gray Davis for his signature. On Monday, the Assembly passed a bill to establish training for foster parents on issues of sexual orientation. The bill was subject to intense debate on the Assembly floor, leading one Assembly member, Republican Dennis Mountjoy, to proclaim: “It’s not okay to be gay,” according to the Los Angeles Times. While the bill requires the state to offer this training, it allows prospective foster parents to opt out. In addition, the bill requires the Department of Social Services to recruit more lesbian, gay, and transgender foster parents to support children with similar sexual orientations. The bill has passed in the Senate, and Gov. Davis is expected to sign it. Also passed by the Assembly on Monday was the “Reproductive Privacy Act,” which protects abortion rights in California in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court. It also allows greater access to a safe and early medical abortion by allowing nurses to prescribe mifepristone. The bill is strongly supported by Gov. Davis, who is expected to sign it in the near future, according to the LA Times.

Sources:

Los Angeles Times 8/20/02; Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson Press Release 8/21/02; Feminist News Wire 8/15/02, 6/26/02, 5/15/00

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