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Three EQCA-sponsored bills clear committees with bipartisan support

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Three Equality California-sponsored bills focused on reducing discrimination and improving the health and equality of LGBT Californians have passed their respective committees with broad, bipartisan support.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cultural Competency for Health Care Providers Act (AB 496), authored by Assemblymember Richard Gordon, passed the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee by a bipartisan vote of 10-1-1.

The LGBT Cultural Competency Training for Administrators in Senior Care Facilities (AB 663), authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, passed the Assembly Human Services Committee by a provisional vote of 5-2.

The Transgender Name Changes, Birth and Death Certificates Act (AB 1121), authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee by a bipartisan vote of 8-1-1. The bill, co-sponsored by the Transgender Law Center, also gained two additional co-authors, Assemblymembers Christina Garcia and Mark Stone.

“The broad support for this range of legislation illustrates the enormous momentum our work for LGBT equality has,” said John O’Connor, Equality California executive director. “This success is an inspiration to keep working toward our goal of full equality and nothing less.”

Ben Hudson, executive director of the Gender Health Center, testified in favor of the Transgender Name Changes, Birth and Death Certificates Act, describing the “place of uncertainty” he is in. His driver’s license doesn’t match his passport, due to the invasive and prohibitively expensive process of changing his birth certificate.

“In 2006 I had to turn down a wedding gift from my uncle to pay for my wife and I to come to England because my passport and birth certificate were not reflective of my gender identity,” Hudson said.

At the hearing for the LGBT Cultural Competency for Health Care Providers Act, Dawn Harbatkin, internist and medical director at Lyon-Martin Health Services in San Francisco, testified about how the lack of culturally appropriate health care nearly led to a patient’s death from cervical cancer.

“I know that for our patients, what makes the healthcare excellent is that we understand who they are and treat them respectfully for who they are,” Harbatkin said. “If all medical providers were to increase their LGBT cultural competency, we would begin to see a reduction in the health care disparities so prevalent in our communities.”