Schwarzenegger ensures Californian GLBT protection

Troy Espera | September 05, 2006

California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger
SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law on Monday a controversial bill that makes it illegal for state-funded service organizations and institutions to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders, despite significant opposition from conservatives.

Senate Bill 1441 "closes a crucial gap" in state civil rights law, said lead sponsor state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, who was backed by Equality California, a gay rights group, The Washington Times reports.

"I am very grateful to the governor for signing SB 1441, which will extend equal nondiscrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians who depend on our state's vital programs and services," said Kuehl, in a media statement issued this week.

Conservative groups, however, argue that the new law will allow attacks on organizations that think homosexuality is unnatural or sinful, and is an "assault" on religious freedom.

Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Famiies, told The Times that the new law will "force religious colleges to either abandon their biblical standards on sexuality or reject students with state financial aid."

Numerous Christian colleges, such as Westmont College, Shasta Bible College, Trinity Law School and William Jessup University, asked Schwarzenegger to veto the bill, Thomasson said.

Day care centers, businesses and nonprofits that contract with the state or take state vouchers will be forced to choose between promoting homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality within their operations and work forces, including hiring practices, or forfeiting state funding, said Ron Prentice, chief executive of the California Family Council.

�This bill will help to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians are treated equally by our government and is an important step towards our goal of ending discrimination in the Golden State," said Geoff Kors, EQCA executive director, in a media statement

The new law "is an outright, blatant assault on religious freedom in California," Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, told The Times.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, told The Times the law will inevitably lead to a "legal assault against religious institutions.�

California state law already forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, education and public accommodations. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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