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Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan’s Equality Bill Package Passes the California Legislature and Heads to Governor

AB 378 eliminates gendered language in reference to constitutional officers and many other state officials. AB 439 adds a nonbinary gender option on death certificates. Their passage coincides with 2021 Pride Month, and are headed to the Governor’s desk

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA – Today AB 378 and AB 439 passed the legislature today with bipartisan support and are now headed to the Governor’s desk. These bills make up Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer- Kahan’s (D-Orinda) equality package by making California code and official documentation gender neutral. 

AB 378, sponsored by the Lieutenant Governor, Eleni Kounalakis, updates woefully outdated, and gender specific codes sections. It systematically goes through laws related to the offices the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Controller, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, and Board of Equalization to make all references to the gender of the officer gender neutral. Currently, in many parts of our code these constitutional office holders are only referred to as “he” or “him.”

“I applaud the Legislature for voting overwhelmingly to approve AB 378 today” said Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis. “As the first woman elected lieutenant governor while our laws still refer to the lieutenant governor as ‘he’ and ‘him,’ I am living proof that these changes are long overdue. Making our code gender neutral will pave the way for all Californians to know that they can lead here, regardless of their gender identity.”

"In 2021, we have the first elected female Lieutenant Governor, a female Controller, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. Our laws do not reflect that. California’s code still refers to the lieutenant governor as a “he” when that is clearly not the case” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “This bill updates this language to accurately reflect that gender has no bearing on the office you can hold.”

Sponsored by Equality California, AB 439 further codifies accurate and inclusive language in California by adding nonbinary gender identity options to death certificates. Pro-tem Atkins has led this fight for inclusive language with SB 179 in 2017 which added nonbinary gender identity options to driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and other official documents. AB 439 continues the work by adding death certificates to the defining documents that will accurately reflect nonbinary individual’s identity.

“When nonbinary people pass away, it is important to have their full identity reflected on their death certificate” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan “Incorrectly assigning a nonbinary person a gender is wrong and disrespectful to their memory.”

California continues to prove why it’s a beacon of hope for LGBTQ+ people everywhere," said Equality California Legislative Director Tami A. Martin. "Today, we are proud that our sponsored bill to add nonbinary as an option on death certificates will head to Governor Newsom’s desk to be signed into law. This bill is another crucial part of affirming the dignity of our trans and non-binary community. We are grateful to Asm. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan for her leadership in advancing this issue and to Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins for laying the foundation of this work beginning in 2014. We look forward to Governor Newsom signing AB 439 into law." 

Together, AB 378 and AB 439 move California towards true equality. Language matters. Accurate representation in code and on death certificates means nonbinary individuals, women, and trans people are no longer excluded.