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Equality California backs 5 bills on health care, transgender equality and non-discrimination

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Equality California announced today its sponsorship of five bills in the 2013-14 legislative session focused on reducing discrimination and improving the health and equality of LGBT Californians.

“This legislative package is broad and fundamental,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “With these bills, we will end an unfair tax that singles out LGBT families, improve access to health care for our community and ensure that California taxpayers are not underwriting discrimination by youth-based organizations.”

The Youth Equality Act (SB 323), authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, would remove a special state tax exemption for youth organizations that fail to comply with California’s longstanding public policy against discrimination. This bill will encourage organizations such as the Boy Scouts to end their exclusion of LGBT people from leadership and membership.

The Health Insurance Tax Parity Act (AB 362), authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting, exempts from state taxation additional income that employees may receive to to offset the federal income taxes they must pay when covering their domestic partner or same-sex spouse under an employer-provided health care plan. This inequity currently results from the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which does not recognize same-sex partners and spouses. Several employers in California, including Facebook, Google and the City and County of San Francisco, have stepped up to offset the cost for their LGBT employees, and this legislation would remove state tax liability for the value of such compensation.

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Collection Act (SB 280), coauthored by Sen. Lara and Sen. Ted Lieu, will address one of the biggest barriers to effective health care for LGBT Californians — the lack of accurate data on LGBT Californians means that too often, state services are allocated based on scant information about the size, geography and diversity of the LGBT population.

The LGBT Cultural Competency for Health Care Providers Act (AB 496), authored by Assemblymember Richard Gordon, works to improve health care delivery for LGBT people by increasing the cultural training of health care providers, such as doctors and dentists. Many LGBT people report delaying care or avoiding the health care system altogether due to lack of understanding of LGBT issues by their providers.

The Gender Identity: Name Changes and Birth/Death Certificates Act (AB 1121), authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins, and cosponsored by the Transgender Law Center, simplifies the expensive and burdensome processes required to legally change a person’s name and gender in California. The bill would remove the costly newspaper publication requirement for name changes that can be unaffordable for low-income transgender people and can put their privacy and safety at risk. In addition, the bill would protect the dignity of transgender Californians by ensuring that their gender identity is recognized and honored upon death.

“We are proud to work with five outstanding legislators this session,” O’Connor said. “Together, we will continue to advance our mission of full equality for LGBT people and nothing less.”

Links to the bills and fact sheets are available HERE.