BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  June 21, 2016


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY


                                  Mark Stone, Chair


          AJR 45  
          (Chiu) - As Introduced June 9, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Civil rights:  the Equality Act


          KEY ISSUE:  Should the legislature urge the united states  
          congress to enact the 2015 equality act?


                                      SYNOPSIS


          Although the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits  
          discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or  
          national origin, it does not yet expressly guarantee the equal  
          rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)  
          Americans.  In order to make federal law more inclusive, the  
          2015 Equality Act would extend the reach of the Civil Rights Act  
          to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination in  
          employment, housing, public accommodations, public education,  
          access to federal funding, and access to credit.  To further  
          ensure equal treatment of all individuals, the 2015 Equality Act  
          would ensure that religion will not be used as a justification  
          to refuse service.  While many states have yet to enact laws  
          that protect all of their citizens, including members of the  
          LGBT community, California has been a leader for the LGBT rights  
          and the 2015 Equality Act is consistent with California law and  
          our state's values.  This resolution urges Congress to enact the  








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          2015 Equality Act in order to end discriminatory practices  
          across the country.


          SUMMARY:  Urges Congress to enact the 2015 Equality Act.   
          Specifically, this measure:


          1)Makes various findings and declarations relating to the Civil  
            Rights Act of 1964.


          2)Declares the necessity to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964  
            by detailing the lack of enumerated discrimination protections  
            for LGBT Americans.


          3)Declares the 2015 Equality Act's comprehensive approach will:


             a)   Protect LGBT Americans' from employment, housing, public  
               accommodations, public education, access to federal  
               funding, and access to credit discrimination.


             b)   Give women equal access to public accommodation and  
               public funds while not using federal funds to encourage  
               discrimination.


             c)   Update the definition of public accommodations to allow  
               all individuals, including people of color, full access and  
               utilization of social and public places.


             d)   Ensure religion cannot be used as a justification for  
               refusing service based on race, color, religion, sex,  
               nation original, sexual orientation, or gender identity.









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          4)Resolves that the Assembly and the Senate of the State of  
            California, jointly, call upon the United States Congress to  
            pass the 2015 Equality Act. 


          5)Resolves that the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies  
            of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.


          EXISTING LAW:  


           1) Federal law guarantees equal protection of the laws and  
             prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex,  
             or national origin.  (Public Law 88-352; 78 Stat. 241.)


           2) Provides that no person in the State of California shall, on  
             the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group  
             identification, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation,  
             color, genetic information, or disability, be unlawfully  
             denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be  
             unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or  
             activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the  
             state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the  
             state, or receives any financial assistance from the state.   
             (California Government Code 11135.)


           3) Provides, under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, that all persons  
             within this state are free and equal, and no matter what  
             their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin,  
             disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital  
             status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or  
             immigration status, are entitled to the full and equal  
             accommodations, advantages, facilities, or services of all  
             business establishments of every kind whatsoever. Defines  
             "sex" to include gender identity and gender expression.   








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             (California Civil Code Section 51.)


           4) Provides, under the California Fair Employment and Housing  
             Act, that it is unlawful to discriminate against or harass  
             any person because of the race, color, religion, sex, gender,  
             gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation,  
             marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status,  
             source of income, disability, or genetic information of that  
             person.  (California Government Code 12955.)


          FISCAL EFFECT:  As currently in print this measure is keyed  
          non-fiscal.


          COMMENTS:  On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson  
          signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation initially  
          proposed by President John F. Kennedy and the most sweeping  
          civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.  The Civil Rights  
          Act of 1964 bans segregation on the basis of race, color,  
          religion, gender, or national origin at all places of public  
          accommodation and prohibits discrimination by employers and  
          labor unions and the use of federal funds for any discriminatory  
          program.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a monumental step for  
          advancing the equal treatment of Americans.  After fifty-two  
          years, however, the author believes that the law should be  
          amended in order to become truly inclusive and to specifically  
          encompass LGBT Americans.  According to the author, The 2015  
          Equality Act, introduced as H.R. 3185 by U.S. Representative  
          David Cicilline of Rhode Island, will provide a much-needed  
          update to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


          Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws:  While the United States  
          Supreme Court gave all 50 states marriage equality in Obergefell  
          v. Hodges (2015) 135 S.Ct. 2071, LGBT Americans are still faced  
          with discrimination in employment, housing, public  
          accommodation, education, access to federal funds, access to  








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          credit, and the right to serve on a jury.  Under current federal  
          law, there are no specific equal employment protections for LGBT  
          Americans; instead states are given the responsibly to pass  
          anti-discrimination laws and mostly fail to do so.  According to  
          the National Conference of State Legislators, only 17 states  
          have passed comprehensive legislation to incorporate sexual  
          orientation and gender identity into employment protection laws,  
          while 17 other states have some type of prohibition on  
          discrimination based upon gender identity or sexual orientation.  
          (  http://www.ncsl.org/blog/2015/07/01/what-is-the-status-of-employ 
          ment-protections-for-lgbt-people.aspx  ) 


          In addition to its lack of employment protections for the LGBT  
          community, federal law does not provide protection from  
          discrimination in housing based upon sexual orientation or  
          gender identity.  Similarly to employment, states must pass  
          their own laws to protect citizens against housing  
          discrimination.  According to the Human Rights Campaign, only 17  
          states provide housing discrimination protection based on sexual  
          orientation and gender identity.  Four other states prohibit  
          housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.   
          (  http://www.hrc.org/resources/housing-for-lgbt-people-what-you-ne 
          ed-to-know-about-property-ownership-and  )  Not surprisingly, a  
          study published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban  
          Development concluded that, "Same-sex couples experience  
          discrimination in the online rental housing market, relative to  
          heterosexual couples." (  https://www.huduser.gov /portal/  
          Publications/pdf/Hsg_Disc_against_SameSexCpls_v3.pdf  )


          Religious Freedom Restoration Act:  The federal Religious  
          Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was passed in 1993 a response to  
          the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Employment Division v.  
          Smith (1990) 494 U.S. 872.  Prior to the Smith decision, the  
          Supreme Court had issued a number of decisions holding that,  
          under the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment,  
          government policies need to accommodate the rights of  
          religiously observant persons, unless there was a "compelling  








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          state interest" for not accommodating religious concerns.   
          However, the Smith decision, written by the late Justice Scalia,  
          reversed this trend, holding that the state did not need to show  
          a compelling interest in order to discriminate on the basis of  
          religion.  As a response, Congress passed RFRA.  In essence,  
          RFRA provides that a state must show a compelling state interest  
          in order to infringe upon a religious practice.  Following the  
          passage of RFRA, the U.S. Supreme Court said RFRA did not apply  
          to some actions of several states.  (City of Boerne v. Flores  
          (1997) 521 U.S. 507.)  Subsequently, states began passing their  
          own RFRA laws.  Essentially, state RFRA laws go beyond the  
          federal RFRA law by offering more protection for religious  
          freedom, as they are entitled to do under the City of Boerne  
          decision, than the First Amendment requires.  In order to better  
          balance religious rights and the right to be free of  
          discrimination, the 2015 Equality Act would stop organizations  
          from using state RFRAs or similar laws as a reason to  
          discriminate or refuse service on the basis of race, color,  
          religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender  
          identity. 


          California Anti-Discrimination Laws:  While recently some states  
          have been moving backwards in terms of protecting rights for the  
          LGBT community, California has been a consistent leader in  
          enacting legislation to ensure equal rights over the years.   
          California law is consistent with the 2015 Equality Act and  
          protects against discrimination in employment, housing, public  
          accommodations, funds, and services.  Most notably, California's  
          most important anti-discrimination laws, the Unruh Civil Rights  
          Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act, have been amended  
          to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected  
          classes.  In light of California's historic commitments in this  
          area, it would seem entirely appropriate for California to urge  
          Congress to similarly update the federal Civil Rights Act of  
          1964. 


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:  This resolution urges Congress to enact  








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          similar laws to California to protect all Americans, not just  
          those who live in the few states with all-inclusive laws.   
          According to the sponsor: 


               The majority of states currently lack explicit and  
               comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for lesbian,  
               gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. Because no  
               federal law enumerates discrimination protections for LGBT  
               people, many LGBT Americans still face daily discrimination  
               and remain at risk of being fired or denied services  
               because of who they are.  To make matters worse, a growing  
               number of states are invoking Religious Freedom Restoration  
               Acts or similar legislation to justify discrimination  
               against the LGBT community.  In addition, disadvantaged  
               groups including women and people of color continue to face  
               discrimination in areas of public accommodation.


               The Equality Act updates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to  
               include protections based on sexual orientation, gender  
               identity, and sex in the areas of employment, housing,  
               public accommodations, public education, federal funding,  
               credit, and the jury system.  To cite one of example of the  
               importance of these protections, updating the federal  
               definition of public accommodations would ensure that all  
               individuals will be able to access and use social and  
               public places.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support











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          Equality California (sponsor)




          Opposition


          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Alexandria Smith-Davis and Thomas Clark /  
          JUD. / (916) 319-2334