LGBT Domestic Violence Services Bill Passes State AssemblyAlways good news to see LGBT legislation moving forward, which is one of the reasons why I appreciate living in California so much. From a joint press release from Equality California and Assemblymember John A. Pérez:

The California State Assembly passed the LGBT Domestic Violence Services Bill along party lines, with all 44 Democrats present voting in favor while all 17 votes against were cast by Republicans. Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), the bill, AB 1003, will increase and expand services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) survivors of domestic violence.

“By passing this bill, we are expanding innovative and proven program models already being pioneered by LGBT centers and organizations across the state,” said Assemblymember John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), the author of the bill. “Now more people will have greater access to the services they need – in a safe, comfortable environment.”

Rates of domestic violence in same-sex relationships are equivalent to those in opposite-sex relationships. However, support for LGBT survivors continues to lag far behind those available to non-LGBT couples. “We must do all in our power to ensure that LGBT survivors of domestic violence have access to culturally competent services and resources,” Geoff Kors, executive director of EQCA. “EQCA is extremely grateful to Assemblymember Pérez for his leadership on this important issue and thank the California Assembly for helping move us one step closer to making this goal a reality.”

The LGBT Domestic Violence Services Bill is designed to correct this inequity by expanding access for LGBT service providers to a state fund within the California Emergency Management Agency, which supports LGBT specific domestic violence programs across the state. The fund, originally established as part of another EQCA sponsored bill in 2006, is subsidized by a $23 fee on domestic partner registrations. The new bill also eliminates the requirement for providers to offer shelter – an impediment to many smaller LGBT organizations that inadvertently keeps several California communities from providing any services for LGBT survivors of domestic violence. The bill previously passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee by a vote of 5-2.

There’s more to treating same sex and same gender couples with parity to opposite sex and opposite gender couples than just with marriage equality. I’m glad that when it comes to domestic violence, this is one way my home state gets this.