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BREAKING NEWS: Legislature passes first bill in U.S. to collect vital data on LGBT Californians

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California state Assembly passed the Survey Data Inclusion Act (SB 416) that will require the state to add questions about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, domestic partnership status and the gender of a spouse as voluntary demographic information collected in two California statewide surveys by 2013.

The bill, authored by Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) and sponsored by Equality California, passed in a 41-22 vote in the Assembly. The state Senate passed the bill 25-14 on June 1. The bill now goes to the Governor's desk.

“If California is to meet the needs of the LGBT community, then government agencies, non-profit organizations, and researchers will need more data about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents,” Kehoe said. “This information will be collected voluntarily and will help Californians better understand the lives and concerns of the LGBT community.”

“LGBT people are a part of our communities and this critical legislation will makes sure that they are counted and considered in the work of agencies and organizations that serve the public and in research that helps to drive a ranges of services and set statewide priorities,” said Roland Palencia, executive director of Equality California. “We are grateful to Senator Kehoe for spearheading the effort to include information about LGBT Californians in two of the most important statewide surveys conducted in California.”

The bill would require the state to collect additional voluntary demographic data in the California Health Information Survey (CHIS), the nation's largest state health survey that gives a detailed picture of the health and healthcare needs of California's large and diverse population, and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, a federal survey administered by the state that tracks health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States since 1984.

These statewide surveys currently collect demographic information such as race/ethnic identity, age, family size, health and safety information, and other data from Californians. However, data relating to California’s LGBT population is not consistently collected by the state or federal government.