When Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill to modernize California’s outdated HIV laws, the national movement to end criminal prosecutions based on a person’s HIV-positive status achieved a great milestone. The enactment of Senate Bill 239, sponsored by state Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Todd Gloria, moves California to the forefront in eliminating the stigma that arises for people living with HIV from these types of prosecutions. Lambda Legal is proud to have cosponsored this bill and excited to be a national leader of the movement to end these unjust, unhelpful, and affirmatively harmful laws.
In the News
Californians who don’t identify themselves as male or female will soon be able to get a gender-neutral birth certificate.
Until now, people who wanted to obtain a nonbinary gender designation had to get a physician’s affidavit stating that they had undergone treatment for the purpose of gender transition. That’s what A. T. Furuya, a 35-year-old advocate for transgender youth at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, had to do to become one of the first people in the country to obtain a legally designated gender that is neither male nor female.
By Scott Wiener and Blanca E. Rubio
These laws treat people living with HIV differently than those living with other serious communicable diseases and can result in felony prosecution, even when the individual does not engage in any behavior that could result in transmission of HIV. Criminalizing people living with HIV in this way is a discriminatory and stigmatizing relic from decades of homophobia, misunderstanding, and outdated AIDS hysteria. SB 239, by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), would modernize HIV criminal laws and bring them in line with evidence-based means to prevent the spread of HIV.
"One segment of our homeless population that has not received enough focus, resources, and attention, and too often are invisible to the population are youth," said Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco.
One bill can’t fix the California housing crisis. But SB 35 is a big step in the right direction, and will enable more people to move to hugely productive areas of California and grow the American economy as a whole. The whole country should be celebrating.
“The reality is, being sick is not a crime, it’s a health issue,” Wiener said. “When you criminalize health conditions, all you do is push people into the shadows. We want people who are infected to know their status and get care. You don’t do that by threatening them with state prison.”
When it comes to attacks from the extremes of the conservative movement, I thought I’d seen it all: I’m a gay, liberal California state senator representing San Francisco, who pushes progressive policies on issues including LGBT rights.
The result is that housing has jumped to the top of Sacramento’s legislative agenda. Mr. Wiener has only been in office for nine months and introduced SB35 as his first bill.
“When I started with SB35 I wasn’t sure how far it would go, so I was surprised how many of my colleagues got it,” he said. “We are moving past the era where every city in California could view itself as an independent kingdom that could refuse to build any housing. Our cities are all interconnected, and housing decisions in one city affect many other cities, and state law needs to reflect that.”