California Now the Best Place for Gays: Governor Tries to Foster Tolerance, Hope

By Elias, Thomas D. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 6, 1999 | Go to article overview

California Now the Best Place for Gays: Governor Tries to Foster Tolerance, Hope


Elias, Thomas D., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


LOS ANGELES - California has become the friendliest place in America for homosexuals.

So friendly, in fact, that most homosexual activists say that won't change even if the March ballot proposition known as the "Defense of Marriage Act" passes, as several polls now indicate it may.

Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, says he wants to "build a new California based on hope instead of fear, tolerance instead of ignorance," and he has signed a package of new laws designed to make homosexual life in California easier, and has signed executive orders reversing anti-homosexual rights policies mandated by his two Republican predecessors, George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson.

The most recent and most contentious was an order, signed last month, to social service workers to consider homosexual couples - and any other unmarried couples, too - when making recommendations on adoption of children. Both Mr. Wilson and Mr. Deukmejian had issued blanket orders to the state Department of Social Services to routinely recommend rejection of any adoption by any unmarried couple. Homosexuals had regarded that order as aimed at them.

Said Mr. Davis: "The previous administration took a position on who is fit and not fit to be a parent. This administration has decided to leave that decision to the professionals to decide who is fit to be a loving, nurturing parent."

That Davis move ran counter to a national trend that now sees bills under consideration in states like Texas, Indiana and Michigan to bar adoptions by homosexuals. Florida and New Hampshire already have such laws.

Even before he issued his order, Mr. Davis had signed into law three measures that homosexual activists consider the most significant advances for homosexual rights in California in more than 20 years. The signings took place in a ceremony before an early October fund-raising dinner for a Southern California homosexual rights group that also featured a speech by President Clinton.

One of those laws, effective Jan. 1, sets up a domestic partners' registration system giving homosexual couples and all unmarried couples who sign up hospital visitation rights, while also providing state government workers in stable, recorded relationships many of the same health-care and pension benefits long enjoyed by married couples.

Another bans housing and job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,and the third outlaws harassment of homosexual students and teachers in public schools and colleges. …

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