2009 Press Releases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2009
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Governor Signs Harvey Milk Day and Marriage Recognition Bills
Sacramento — Today Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law two historic LGBT
rights bills — recognizing the contributions of slain civil rights leader
Harvey Milk and a bill that underscores that same-sex couples married before the
passage of Proposition 8 are entitled to full recognition as married spouses in
California, regardless of whether they married in California or out of state.
Both bills were sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and were introduced by
Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). The bills were the top priority of EQCA,
the state’s leading LGBT rights organization and were targeted by right wing
anti-gay groups who worked to defeat the bills first in the legislature and then
by urging the Governor to veto the measures.
"We are grateful to the Governor for signing these critical and groundbreaking
measures into law and rising above partisan politics to improve the lives of
LGBT Californians," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors.
The Harvey Milk Day bill marks the first time in the nation’s history that a
state will officially recognize and celebrate the contributions of an openly
LGBT person with an annual "day of special significance."
"Californians will now learn about Harvey’s amazing contributions to the
advancement of civil rights for decades to come," Kors said. "He is a role model
to millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on forever."
The Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act, also signed today, holds
that same-sex couples married before the passage of Proposition 8 must be
recognized as married spouses in California, regardless of whether they married
in California or in another state or nation. In addition, the new statute also
confirms that same-sex couples married outside of California after November 5,
2008, must be given all of the rights, protections and responsibilities of
married spouses under California law, with the sole exception of the designation
"We are grateful that the Governor has signed this critical bill, which provides
much needed protections for same-sex couples who have legally married out of
state, or will in the future, and who deserve to be treated like any other
married couple," Kors said. "This bill will allow same-sex couples to get
married in other states and countries and ensure they are treated equally under
the law when they return to California. Ultimately, however, restoring the
freedom to marry is the only way to ensure that all Californians receive the
dignity and respect that comes with marriage."
"When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses
who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from
re-marrying in California," said Senator Leno. "Now those couples and their
families are in limbo because their rights and protections under law are not
clear. This new law will ensure that same-sex couples are protected by existing
California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they
The Governor also signed EQCA-sponsored legislation by Assemblymember John A.
PÃ©rez to help leverage funding for same-sex domestic violence services and
vetoed two bills on the grounds that existing law and policy already provided
the protections the bills sought to put into statute: the Equal ID Act, allowing
transgender people to obtain new birth certificates and the LGBT Prisoner Safety
Act, considering sexual orientation and gender identity to safely house
"While we believe it is important to have these protections in statute rather
than just as policy or court precedent and are disappointed by the vetoes, the
Governor’s reaffirmation of these policies will hopefully help ensure they are
enforced," Kors said.
For more information about EQCA’s legislation, visit
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA
has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal
protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive
civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 60 pieces of
legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy,
public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org
Governor Signs Bill Expanding Resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Survivors of Domestic Violence