Case Study of Incremental Strategy used in California:
Sexual Rights from A to Z

A. In 1975, California decriminalized sodomy with the passage of AB 489. Once sodomy became legal, sexual rights activists were then able to demand all of the following sexual rights: (If sodomy had remained illegal, it is unlikely that these legal and cultural milestones would have ever succeeded.)


B. In 1976, Los Angeles becomes the first California city to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.


C. In 1977, Harvey Milk becomes the first openly homosexual to be elected in a major U.S. city when he is elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.


D. In 1978:
• San Francisco prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation in the private sector. Other cities follow suit over the next few years.


•The rainbow flag is first used in San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade.


E. In 1979, Los Angeles bans discrimination against homosexuals in private-sector employment and against customers and patrons by business establishments.


F. In 1981, the United States Centers for Disease Control identifies in the homosexual population the first known cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).


G. In 1985, West Hollywood establishes a domestic partner registry.


H. In 1987, California enacts a hate crimes bill which defines a “hate crime” as “a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:


6.  Disability
7.  Gender
8.  Nationality
9.  Race or ethnicity
10. Religion
11. Sexual orientation
12. Association with a peer.”


I. During 1987 to 1990, Cathedral City, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and San Diego, California, consecutively prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in the private sector.


J. In 1992, California institutes a statewide ban on sexual orientation discrimination in the private sector.


K. In 1994:
• The city of Berkeley extends domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees.


• California’s first openly lesbian legislator is elected.


L. In 1995, The California Hate Violence Reduction Act of 1995 passes, requiring schools to “promote an appreciation of diversity and to discourage … discriminatory attitudes and practices.” (Notice it does not say “homosexual,” but of course the law was used to promote homosexuality in the schools.)


M. In 1995, San Francisco outlaws discrimination based on gender identity.


N. In 1996, a second lesbian state legislator is elected. Lesbian legislators begin to propose seemingly innocuous bills to prevent “discrimination” in education.


O. In 1999, California Governor Gray Davis signs into law AB 26, which establishes a statewide domestic partner registry, and AB 1001, a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and employment.


P. In 2000, California passes AB 537, the Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act, adding actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing nondiscrimination policy.


Q. Also in 2000, California voters approve Proposition 22, defining marriage in state law as only between a man and a woman.


R. In 2001:
•The California legislature enacts AB 25, which grants 13 marital rights and benefits to domestic partners. (This was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the will of the people who voted for Proposition 22 defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.  Successive legislatures expanded the scope of these domestic partnership rights until they now include all of the rights the state grants to married individuals.)


•The city of San Francisco allows employees to claim reimbursement for up to $50,000 of costs associated with sex reassignment surgery.


S. In 2003, the California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act (SB 71) is signed into law. Among other things, the act instructs schools to encourage students to “develop healthy attitudes” concerning “gender roles” and “sexual orientation.”


T. In 2004:
• City officials in San Francisco start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of state law.


• California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs AB 2900, which adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” anti-discrimination protections to the California government, labor, military and veterans, public utilities, unemployment and insurance, and welfare and institutions codes.


• California passes SB 1234 a “hate crimes” bill that criminalizes incitement to violence against a protected group.


U. In 2005:
•The California legislature passes AB 205, which expands domestic partnership statutes to include most marriage rights available under state law.


• San Francisco County Superior Court judge rules that Prop 22 defining marriage as only between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.


• In 2005 (and again in 2007), the California Legislature passes a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the first state legislature in the United States to do so without judicial intervention. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill both times, but then, in 2009, signs a bill recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.


V. In 2007, the California legislature passes SB 777, dubbed by opponents as the “Transsexual/Bisexual/Homosexual Indoctrination Bill.” This bill prohibits schools from promoting a “discriminatory bias” against transsexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality in school.


W. In 2008:
•The California Supreme Court strikes down Prop 22, thereby making same-sex marriage legal across the state.


• Same-sex marriage begins in California.


• Californians vote to pass Prop 8, amending California’s state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, thereby overturning the state Supreme Court’s ruling, and same-sex marriage becomes illegal again in California.


X. In 2009, California enacts SB 572 which requires the governor to proclaim May 22 each year “Harvey Milk Day” and encourages public schools and educational institutions to conduct commemorative exercises to celebrate his life. (Harvey Milk was the prominent gay rights activist who was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and who admitted to having sex with minors and advocated having multiple sexual partners.)


Y. In 2010, Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker rules that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, stating there is no “rational basis” for denying homosexual couples marriage licenses. Shortly after issuing his decision, Judge Walker admits he himself has a male partner and retires from the bench. The decision is appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issues an emergency stay while they review the case. This case is expected to eventually be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Z. In 2011:
• California passes the controversial Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act (SB 48) also called the “LGBT History Bill.” This law mandates positive portrayals of homosexuals and transgenders in school books and curriculum from kindergarten through high school and prohibits presenting any information that would portray LGBT people in a negative light. (In Senate hearings the author of the bill refused to answer questions about whether children would be allowed to receive the information about help being available if they experience unwanted same-sex attraction.)


• California Governor Jerry Brown signs the Gender Non-discrimination Act (AB 887) and the Vital Statistics Modernization Act (AB 433). AB 887 makes it illegal to discriminate in employment, education, housing, and other public settings based on gender identity or expression. AB 433 allows transgender people to obtain a court order to change their legal identification, including their birth certificate, to reflect their new gender.


Although we have run out of letters in the alphabet we have not run out of policy developments in California that advance the sexual rights agenda. In 2012, the California legislature passed a bill that makes it illegal for a licensed health professional to provide therapy or counseling to help a minor overcome their unwanted same-sex attraction.


Contrary to the claim of sexual rights activists, the advancement of sexual rights in laws and policies can have a direct impact on your family. Don’t let this happen in your state or country.


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