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Advocacy and Civil Rights

The Center works with civic leaders, community-based organizations and members of the community to advance fundamental freedoms such as the right to marry, safe and secure communities for all, equal treatment at the workplace and safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ-identified youth and children of LGBT-headed families.

Marriage Equality

Every loving, committed couple deserves the recognition, respect and rights that come with marriage. Over the last decade, the right to marry has been realized in nineteen states - CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, and WA - and Washington, D.C. have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

In an additional twelve states, judges have issued rulings in favor of the freedom to marry, with many of these rulings now stayed as they proceed to appellate courts: In AR, ID, MI, OK, TX, UT, VA and WI judges have struck down marriage bans, and in IN, KY, OH, and TN, judges have issued more limited pro-marriage rulings.

Three states offer broad protections short of marriage. CO allows civil union, while NV offers broad domestic partnership. WI has more limited domestic partnership.

With these advances, a record number of Americans live in states that recognize relationships between same-sex couples:

  • Nearly 44% of the U.S. population lives in a state with the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
  • Over 46% of the U.S. population lives in a state with either marriage or a broad legal status such as civil union or domestic partnership.
  • Over 48% of the U.S. population lives in a state that provides some form of protections for gay couples.

The march toward marriage equality continues at a pace unimagined just a decade ago. The Center collaborates with both local and national organizations such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry, and statewide organizations such as Equality California to build public support for marriage equality, educate the community about the changing landscape of relationship recognition and to celebrate victories large and small along the way.

To learn more about relationship recognition laws in California, visit www.eqca.org

For information about relationship recognition by state, visit www.freedomtomarry.org.

Community Safety and Hate Crimes

Great strides have been made locally, statewide and nationally in the ongoing effort to secure safe communities for all and vigilantly prosecute crimes motivated by hate. In 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, making hate-motivated crime against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression a federal offense, granting the federal government more latitude to investigate hate crimes otherwise dismissed by local authorities and requiring the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track hate crime statistics against transgender people. This is the first act of Congress to extend protections to transgender Americans.  

The Center works with local law enforcement, civic and community leaders to encourage the reporting of hate-motivated incidents, connect victims of hate crimes to supportive resources and educate the community about the investigation and prosecution process. In addition, we monitor local and national trends, and collaborate with other communities vulnerable to hate crime to raise public awareness.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of a hate crime, call 911 or report the incident to the San Diego Police Department online at http://www.sandiego.gov/police/crimereports/startaccess.html.

To file a report with the FBI, visit https://tips.fbi.gov.

To learn more about local resources for victims of hate crime, visit the San Diego County District Attorney’s Hate Crimes webpage at www.sdcda.org/helping/hate-crimes.

If you’d like information about national hate crime trends, visit www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2009.

To learn more about the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, visit www.hrc.org.

You may also contact The Center’s director of public affairs at 619.692.2011 x103 or PublicAffairs@thecentersd.org for further assistance.  

Workplace Equality

LGBT Californians enjoy some of the strongest workplace protections in the nation. Sadly, it is still legal for LGBT Americans to be disciplined, terminated or simply not hired based on their sexual orientation in 29 states, and based on their gender identity in 38 states. One of the most basic American principles, the right to work and support one’s family, has not yet been extended to LGBT Americans. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was originally meant to provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but it contains problematic exemptions. There is currently controversy over whether to continue pushing to pass ENDA in its current form or to withdraw support over concerns that it would actually codify some kinds of discrimination. ENDA was approved by the Senate on November 7, 2013, by a bipartisan vote of 64-32, and is currently awaiting vote in the House.

The Center works with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) to assist victims of employment and housing discrimination through the complaint process, and to connect those who think they’ve been wrongfully terminated to legal resources.

To learn more about ENDA, visit Transgender Law Center, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights, HRC and GLAAD.

If you’ve experienced wrongful discipline or termination, call 1-800-884-1684 for DFEH or (619) 557-7235 for EEOC, or e-mail contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov.

For LGBT legal resources, visit the Greater San Diego Business Association’s directory at www.gsdba.org.

You may also contact The Center’s director of public affairs at 619.692.2011 x103 or PublicAffairs@thecentersd.org for further assistance.  

Education and Safe Schools

School-based bullying is an insidious phenomenon that has been linked to lower academic performance and achievement, truancy, absenteeism and suicide. With the advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, these effects have only been amplified.

California is one of several states that have taken major steps to address the pervasive problem of bullying. Legislative mandates range from requiring publicly-funded schools to adopt a basic nondiscrimination clause to more robust solutions such as remedial bullying intervention programs and inclusive curriculum with positive depictions of LGBT people.

The Center works with stakeholder groups including the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), The Trevor Project and the Gay, Straight Alliance (GSA) Network to educate administrators, teachers and parents about the implications of bullying when left unchecked, and about the variety of resources at their disposal.  

To learn more about California safe school laws, visit Equality California at www.eqca.org or the California Safe Schools Coalition at www.casafeschools.org.

To learn more about proposed federal safe schools legislation or safe schools laws by state, visit www.hrc.org.

For resources such as model policies and data-driven anti-bullying programs, visit www.welcomingschools.org or the California Department of Education at www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/bullyres.asp.

Feel free to contact The Center’s director of public affairs at 619.692.2011 x103 or PublicAffairs@thecentersd.org for further assistance.