California Gov. Jerry Brown signed numerous bills into law this weekend that will create new protections for LGBT people and their families. Though Proposition 8 held back LGBT equality for the state, these new laws are raising the bar for ensuring an equal opportunity in society for same-sex couples and LGBT youth.
Fertility Services For Same-Sex Couples
California Assembly Bill 2356 ensures that all women, including single women and women in same-sex relationships, have the same access to fertility services. Previously, any woman who sought fertility services with a donor that was not their male partner had to endure time-consuming and costly repeat testing that lowered their chances of conceiving. Now, all intended parents can obtain safe and effective treatment.
LGBT-Sensitivity Training For Foster Parents
California Assembly Bill 1856 requires that anyone seeking to become a foster parent must undergo “instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care” to LGBT youth. Conservatives have complained that the training is a “burden” that will “drive Christian couples away” from becoming foster parents. Given the frightfully high rates of LGBT youth homelessness that are driven by family rejection, minimizing the likelihood that any young person should have to experience such rejection is a vitally important protection.
Ban On Ex-Gay Therapy For Minors
Perhaps the most groundbreaking bill Brown signed into law was Senate Bill 1172, limiting licensed therapists from offering ex-gay therapy to minors. Unfortunately, the bill was watered down significantly since its original introduction. Among the cuts was a provision that would have required that patients of any age who pursue ex-gay therapy have to sign an informed consent acknowledging its lack of scientific merit and potential harm. The original legislation also required ex-gay therapists to provide reporting about the therapy they offer so that the state could issue an annual report about the risks and limited potential of the junk science.
Another unfortunate caveat is that the state can only regulate the treatment offered by licensed or credentialed professionals, and thus any religious leader, minister, or counselor not regulated by a professional organization can continue to provide ex-gay therapy unregulated. Nevertheless, the bill represents a groundbreaking set of protections for LGBT youth, and hopefully its enforcement will serve to educate parents who want their children to endure such treatment but cannot find it from any credentialed therapist or physician. Other states, like New Jersey, are already considering adapting similar legislation based on this California model.
Multiple Parent Recognition
Unfortunately, Brown did veto one bill that would have created new protections for the additional parents who might be part of a child’s life because of a same-sex relationship. Senate Bill 1476 would have allowed judges to recognize more than two parents per child to accommodate the unique family structures that result from adoption, surrogacy, and remarriages. These would not have been issued at random, but could be determined on a case-by-case basis to offer the most protections and security to children. Brown said that he was concerned “the bill’s ambiguities may have unintended consequences,” asking for more time to “consider all of the implications of this change.”