Senator Wiener’s Work on LGBTQ Issues
A gay man, Senator Wiener has dedicated much of his life to supporting the LGBTQ community, going back to 1990, when he came out in the middle of the AIDS crisis as a college student in North Carolina and volunteered on an AIDS crisis hotline. Over the 30 years since that time, Senator Wiener has been one of the strongest LGBTQ civil rights champions in the nation.
In the Senate, Senator Wiener works tirelessly to safeguard and expand the rights of all communities, including the LGBTQ community.
Senator Wiener has led the historic effort to combat the rising attack on LGBTQ rights, and the trans community in particular, by passing the nation's first sanctuary state law. If parents are forced to flee states like Alabama, Idaho, or Texas for helping their kids access gender-affirming healthcare, SB 107 protects them from prosecution and from having their child taken away. The law prevents compliance with out of state subpoenas for records of information pertaining to gender affirming care, and bars law enforcement from participating in any arrest for providing such care. The law has inspired replicas in 19 states.
During his first year in the Senate, Senator Wiener authored SB 219 to establish an LGBTQ Seniors Bill of Rights, to protect LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status. He joint authored a law with Senate President Toni Atkins to create a third, non-binary marker on government IDs. Known as the Gender Recognition Act of 2017, SB 179 also eliminates obstacles for transgender and non-binary individuals trying to get a state ID or to correct their gender on their ID.
Senator Wiener has worked extensively to combat HIV. In 2019, he passed a first-in-the-nation law to expand access to PrEP, the HIV prevention medication, by allowing pharmacists to disperse it without a prescription. The law led to the passage of similar legislation in Utah, Colorado, and Nevada. In 2020, he passed SB 859, which required the California Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Chief of the Office of AIDS (OA), to establish and implement a Master Plan to address HIV, HPV, and STIs. He has secured nearly $20 million of state funds to combat HIV and STIs. He helped craft and implement San Francisco’s “Getting to Zero” strategy to end new HIV infections, HIV deaths, and HIV- related stigma, and he was the first public official in the nation to publicly announce that he takes PrEP (a once-daily pill to essentially eliminate risk of HIV infection), in order to raise awareness around this powerful HIV preventative and to reduce the stigma surrounding it.
LGBTQ health has been a major focus. Outside of HIV work, in 2020, he passed SB 932, which mandates that all California health care providers collect sexual orientation and gender identity data on COVID-19 and all other reportable communicable diseases to ensure that the LGBTQ community is not left behind by our health care system. He's helped secure more than $18 million in state funds for LGBTQ health initiatives, particularly those involving LGB women.
Senator Wiener's work advancing LGBTQ civil rights has garnered national attention. He authored and passed SB 239, to decriminalize HIV. SB 239 brings California statutes up to date with the current understanding of HIV prevention, treatment, and transmission, in order to reduce stigma around HIV and improve public health outcomes. He also ended discriminatory laws that required judges to put LGBTQ youth on the sex offender registry, and extended judges the same discretion for LGBTQ youth they had for their straight offenders. He successfully repealed a discriminatory loitering law that disproportionatley targeted trans women and allowed law enforcement to arrest someone based solely on their appearence.
In 2018, Senator Wiener authored the Dignity and Opportunity Act to provide greater protection to transgender individuals in our criminal justice system. Knowing that 40% of California’s homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, Senator Wiener also authored the Youth Homelessness Act of 2018 to help address California’s homeless youth epidemic. In 2020, Senator Wiener passed SB 132, which requires prisons to house transgender incarcerated individuals according to where they’re safest (for example, by gender identity).
Before Senator Wiener’s election to the Senate, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, he authored legislation ensuring transgender individuals were covered by San Francisco’s universal health care program, and requiring more attention to the needs of LGBTQ seniors.
Before he was elected to the Board of Supervisors, Senator Wiener co-chaired the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club, BALIF (the Bay Area’s LGBTQ bar association), and the San Francisco LGBTQ Community Center. He also served on the national Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign.