Many states in the US have made great strides in ensuring that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community is afforded the same rights and responsibilities in various aspects of society. One of them is the State of California, which is known for its progressive stance in protecting the rights of individuals of a certain sex or gender. Indeed, according to a Los Angeles employment lawyer, the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides that it is illegal for covered employers with 5 or more employees to discriminate against workers and applicants based on their gender, including their gender identity and gender expression.
This statute alone significantly impacts the members of the LGBT when it comes to employment. That does not stop there, however. The California Legislature, in fact, continues to introduce bills that would protect them from any form of discrimination, not just in employment. Last month, Assemblyman Mark Stone, (D-Monterey Bay) introduced Assembly Bill 87 (AB 87), relating to the jurors but focuses on the aspect of discrimination.
Basically, there is an existing law that states that it is prohibited for a certain party involved in a jury trial to use a “peremptory challenge” in an effort to remove a prospective juror during jury selection on the basis of an assumption that the latter is biased due to his race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or similar grounds. “Peremptory challenge” refers to the prosecution and the defense being allowed to remove a prospective juror from being a part of the jury panel without providing any reason for his or her removal. Mr. Stone’s bill, AB 87, seeks to make a clarification regarding that said existing law.
The bill, which was introduced January 2015, aims to make it illegal to use the peremptory challenge clause for a prospective juror who is a transgender. If successfully passed into law, the bill would no longer allow either the prosecution or the defense in either a civil or criminal case to remove a juror based on the assumption that he or she is biased due to his or her characteristics as a transgender individual. Aside from this clarification, the bill also aims to prevent peremptory challenges based on the juror’s identification as part of an ethnic group, disability, and genetic information.
As recently as last month, AB 87 passed the Assembly floor via a 68-2 vote. It is now being read in the California Senate, under the Judiciary Committee. Last year, a similar measure was introduced; it passed the Assembly but was amended by the state’s Senate to focus on different issue.
AB 87 is just one of the many legislative bills that have been introduced recently that takes into account the rights of transgender individuals in California. The ones that have been recently enacted were those that involved transgender people given the permit to amend their names and their genders on their birth certificates without the need to secure a court order, as well the permit to have their gender identities appear in their death certificates.