California sets example with new laws protecting LGBT people

As Think Progress reports, California has recently passed several laws protecting LGBT people in the state under Gov. Jerry Brown.

The most recent law Gov. Brown signed bans the use of the "gay panic" and "trans panic" defenses in court, which have historically been a victim-blaming tactic benefitting perpetrators of violence against LGBT people. The law, authored by assembly member Susan Bonilla, is the first of its kind to be passed at the state level in the U.S. Examples of cases that attempted to use these defenses in California were the 2002 trial for the murder of trans woman Gwen Araujo, in which defense lawyers used a "trans panic" defense, and the 2011 trial of Brandon McInenry for the murder of his classmate Larry King, which used a "gay panic" defense.

Gov. Brown also signed a bill into law that will ensure transgender Californians are accurately identified on their death certificates. The Respect After Death Act, authored by out assembly speaker Toni Atkins and co-sponsored by Transgender Law Center and Equality California, began with the advocacy efforts of those close to trans artist and activist Christopher Lee, who was misgendered after his passing in 2012. One of those friends, Chino Scott-Chung, said of the new law, “It brings us great solace to know that Christopher’s legacy will live on to protect the dignity of other transgender people, and that their friends and families will hopefully not have to endure what we did.”

Read more about laws protecting LGBT people in California from Think Progress.