Tuesday, August 18, 2009

California Legislature Advances Three Resolutions on Federal Policy Affecting the LGBT Population

Good news comes from the California state capitol today, where the Assembly Judiciary Committee passed three resolutions concerning federal laws affecting LGBT people by a margin of 6-3: a resolution urging the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA (AJR 19), a resolution in support of the Uniting American Families Act (AJR 15), and a resolution calling for the FDA to repeal the U.S. Blood Donor Nondiscrimination Resolution (AJR 13),

"It is important for California, the state with the largest LGBT population, to urge the federal government to repeal discriminatory federal policies that ultimately hurt all people in the United States," said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors, whose organization co-sponsored the resolutions. "We have more potential now than ever before to make a positive impact at the federal level, and we call on Congress and the President to seize this historic opportunity."

DOMA has had a rough week, with both the Department of Justice and President Obama stating the law discriminates and calling for its repeal.

Now, California has taken a step forward in calling for the end of the law as well. The resolution calling for its end was introduced by Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D - Santa Monica).

"If a state recognizes the love and commitment of one couple, the federal government must do the same," said Assemblymember Brownley upon introducing the bill. "I urge Congress and the President to take a stand on the side of liberty and treat all Americans equally."

A federal law that would positively affect LGBT couples directly if passed is the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Under current federal law, U.S. citizens and permanent residents are permitted to petition for an opposite-sex spouse to immigrate to the U.S. The UAFA would extend this basic right to committed same-sex couples, allowing U.S. citizens and legal residents to file a visa petition on behalf of a foreign national same-sex partner.

A resolution urging Congress to pass the law and for President Obama to sign it was introduced by introduced by Assemblymember Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

“Thousands of American families and committed same-sex couples are denied basic rights and legal protections, including the ability to petition for a partner to immigrate to the U.S.,” said Assemblymember De León. “They live in legal limbo and are torn apart by outdated immigration policies. In ensuring a true state of equality, Congress must take immediate steps to reunite and protect all families once and for all.”

AJR 13, introduced by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), calls on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to repeal its rule prohibiting healthy gay and bisexual men from donating blood. If approved by both houses of the Legislature, the resolution would put the State of California on record as supporting updated rules for blood donation, which would increase the number of viable blood donations and in turn save additional lives.

"Blood has no sexual orientation, and the FDA should have no discrimination," said Ammiano upon introducing the bill. "I hope President Obama hears our call to change this shameful and discriminatory practice immediately so we can save more lives."

All three resolutions will move to the Senate and Assembly floors for an official vote in the coming weeks.

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