Assembly Approves Bill to Protect Gay Candidates
from Discrimination in Political Campaigns
State Assembly Approves Yees Effort to
Add Sexual Orientation to Campaign Code
From the office of Assemblymember Leland Yee
January 26, 2006
SACRAMENTO A bill that seeks to include sexual
orientation and gender identity in the voluntary pledge that candidates
may sign prior to entering a political campaign passed the State
Assembly today on a bipartisan 43-29 vote. AB 1207, Speaker pro
Tem Leland Yees (D-San Francisco/Daly City) second attempt
in two years to pass such legislation, is designed to end discrimination
against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community
during campaigns. AB 866, identical legislation authored by Yee
last year, was vetoed by the Governor.
It is wrong to defile the honor of the democratic process
with vicious name-calling and whisper campaigns that have nothing
to do with debate, values or issues, said Speaker pro Tem
Todays vote shows that Assembly Democrats are committed
to clean political campaigns. As the Governor has done on many
issues this year, I urge him to join us in putting an end to anti-gay
rhetoric by signing AB 1207 into law.
Anti-gay rhetoric and campaign tactics are never acceptable,
said Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California,
the bills sponsor.
This amendment to the Code of Fair Campaign Practices simply
seeks to establish a level playing field that all candidates would
be able to follow. Candidates should focus on issues, not attacks
on any group of people.
Specifically, the legislation would have prohibited the use of
any negative appeal based on prejudice of sexual orientation or
gender identity by candidates or campaign committees who sign
the voluntary pledge provided for in the Code of Fair Campaign
Currently, existing law establishes a Code of Fair Campaign Practices
to which a candidate may voluntarily subscribe and provides a
pledge by which the candidate declares that he or she will not
use or permit any appeal to negative prejudice based on race,
sex, religion, national origin, physical health status, or age.
This Code of Fair Campaign Practices and a copy of the Elections
Code provisions are required to be provided to candidates by the
Registrar of Voters at the time of a declaration of candidacy,
nomination papers, or any other paper evidencing an intention
to be a candidate for public office are issued.
I can not, and will not, stand idle while my friends in
the gay community continue to receive inferior treatment and unequal
rights, said Speaker pro Tem Yee.
Gay-bating and playing politics with civil rights, justice,
and equality is not only unethical, it is potentially dangerous
to those we seek to protect in this legislation.
Negative campaign tactics are directly connected to violence
against gay and lesbian individuals. Incidents of violence against
LGBT people have peaked in national elections years, such as during
the 2004 presidential campaign, in which lesbian and gay issues
played an unprecedented role at both the national and local levels.
In 2003, when San Francisco became ground zero in the struggle
over same-sex marriage rights, incidents of violence rose over
14 percent in the city.
In 1996, then Assemblymember Shelia Kuehl introduced nearly identical
legislation (AB 2283), which failed in its first hearing on a
3-4 partisan vote. Today, two Republican Assemblymembers, Keith
Richman (D-Northridge) and Lynn Daucher (R-Brea), joined 41 Democrats
in favor of AB 1207.
Republicans made up all 29 no votes and one not voting,
while 6 Democrats did not cast a vote. AB 1207 will now head to
the State Senate before hitting the Governors desk again
for his consideration.