Governor Gray Davis (D) signed a measure Saturday that would prohibit housing and employment discrimination against transgender people, making California the fourth state (joining Michigan, New Mexico, and Rhode Island) to stipulate such protections in the Fair Housing and Employment Act. AB 196-introduced by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), passed by the Assembly in April, and approved by the Senate last Thursday-defines gender as a person’s identity, appearance or behavior, regardless of the person’s sex at birth, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The new law, produced with assistance from state lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups as well as a five-member legislative LGBT caucus, in part aims to combat the higher-than-average unemployment rates (70 percent in 1999, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health) affecting the transgender community, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
Though LGBT advocates are celebrating Davis’ latest move, efforts to expand gay rights are continuing full force. AB205, a bill granting same-sex partners the same rights as married couples, is expected to move through the legislature later this month and reach Davis’ desk soon thereafter, the Chronicle reports.