Voluntary pledge to refuse anti-gay campaign rhetoric
moves to governor's desk
From the Office of Assemblyman Leland Yee
August 22, 2006
SACRAMENTO - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Los Angeles)
has a second chance to sign 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. On a 45-20 vote
(1:30 PM), the State Assembly Monday approved AB 1207 on concurrence.
AB 1207, Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee's (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.
"The Governor now has a second chance to do the right thing
and affirmatively declare that it is wrong to defile the honor
of the democratic process with anti-gay rhetoric that has nothing
to do with debate, values or issues," said Yee. "As
he has done on many issues this year, I urge the Governor to join
Democrats and put an end to discriminatory campaign tactics by
signing AB 1207 into law."
"Seeing the anti-gay rhetoric that many LGBT candidates
face almost prevented me from pursuing public office," said
Gretchen Bender, a recently elected member of the Sacramento Board
"Fortunately, my family did not have to live through the
turmoil that many other LGBT candidates contend with during campaigns.
AB 1207 will make sure all candidates stick to the issues and
that votes are cast on qualifications, not sexual orientation."
"We applaud Assemblymember Yee for his leadership and persistence
on this issue," said Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of
Equality California, the bill's sponsor. "The legislature
has now twice over affirmed its commitment to campaigns that are
fair, just and focused on the issues rather than appeals to prejudice
about any group of people. It's time for the governor to sign
Specifically, the AB 1207 prohibits 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 Practices.
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 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
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. The Governor has until September 30 to sign
or veto AB 1207.