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California Gov. Gavin Newsom Vetoes 4 Bills to Expand LGBTQ Protections

The Democratic governor has vetoed a total of five LGBTQ-related bills this legislative session.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom talks with media before the start of the second GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on September 27, 2023.

Over the weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed four bills that would have expanded LGBTQ protections in the state, bringing the total number of LGBTQ-related bills he has vetoed this legislative session to five.

One of the bills would have required out-of-state insurance sold to California workers to cover gender-affirming care and abortion care. This bill was part of a legislative package championed by the California Future of Abortion Council (CA FAB Council) and introduced by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus (LWC).

“Ensuring access to reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare is about more than just keeping clinics open,” the FAB Council Steering Committee said in a statement on the bill. “States need to maintain insurance coverage for criminalized procedures, protect medical professionals who are being targeted for providing care, expand access to patient and provider abortion education, and take other measures to make reproductive healthcare genuinely attainable.”

Another of the vetoed bills would have provided protection for California workers who need time off to care for their biological or chosen family members. This bill, authored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), was strongly supported by LGBTQ advocates.

“Who we count as members of our family and choose to care for includes so many more Californians than what our current laws recognize,” Wicks said. “Employee protections must continue to evolve so workers can care for those they love, and not get punished for it.”

The third bill vetoed by Newsom, which was authored by Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Santa Monica/West Hollywood), would have eliminated loopholes and bolstered safeguards in existing law to ensure that California health insurance providers maintained their obligation to offer comprehensive and cost-free coverage for preventive services. These services include PrEP, a highly effective medication for preventing HIV transmission, as well as screenings for sexually transmitted infections.

“All Californians deserve access to life-saving preventive care without worrying about hidden fees and costs,” Zbur said. “Creating an affordable and accessible pathway to this care, which includes STI and HIV testing and treatment, will be a tremendous benefit to overlooked communities who have traditionally lacked access to these important services, including young people, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and more.”

The last of the bills vetoed by Newsom over the weekend would have established a three-year transitional housing pilot program for homeless LGBTQ+ youth in San Diego. The bill was introduced by Encinitas Assemblymember Tasha Boerner (D) and aimed at supporting LGBTQ youth who are at risk of homelessness after experiencing family rejection through temporary accommodations.

“These ‘Unicorn Homes’ would have served a population of young people who are often more likely to find themselves at risk of homelessness, while at the same time also face greater difficulty finding shelters that accept and respect them,” Boerner said in a statement. “No state housing program targets LGBTQ+ youth at risk of homelessness specifically, and many nonprofit organizations that would help meet this need are struggling.”

These bills are just a few of the 143 bills Newsom vetoed over the weekend; in total, the governor vetoed 30 percent of the bills that reached his desk.

In September, Newsom outraged transgender advocates by vetoing a bill that would have required judges to consider whether a parent affirms their child’s gender identity when making custody and visitation decisions. Newsom has also recently made headlines for vetoing bills aimed at limiting the price of insulin, banning caste discrimination, and cutting fossil fuel pollution.

While the state legislature could override Newsom’s vetoes with a two-thirds majority in the Assembly and the Senate, the legislature is unlikely to do so, even though it has the votes required. A governor’s veto hasn’t been overridden by the legislature since 1980.

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