Queer Town: Equality California Pushes State to Collect Gay Data

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Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 11:14 AM

With the 2010 U.S. Census soon underway, it's always been a sticking point with us that the gay community has been barely, if at all, counted. People are asked about their race on the short, census questionnaire, for example, but there's nothing

about sexual orientation.

click to enlarge Equality California Exec. Dir. Geoff Kors - EQCA
  • EQCA
  • Equality California Exec. Dir. Geoff Kors

This is no small thing.

The federal census helps determine what monies certain

populations should get for various government-funded projects. That's billions of dollars on the line.

While this year census takers will ask about same sex couples, as Queerty notes, it will still be a very small snapshot of the gay and lesbian community.

With all of this playing out on the federal level, Equality California is now pushing the state to gather information on gay folks, with a bill that's been introduced in the legislature by Assemblyman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Torrance.

"This bill will improve the state's ability to measure the (gay) community's needs for such crucial public services as job training," says EQCA executive director Geoff Kors in a press statement, "and it will ultimately enable California to ensure that LGBT Californians, especially those living in poverty, receive services they need to take care of their families and to lead healthy lives."

Kors adds, "Currently the state collects little data on the LGBT community, and this bill would help close the information gap."

Which is certainly important.

California has a number of pro-gay laws, but the state doesn't always know where to enforce them.

In an Advocate story, for example, (which we just happened to write), there's a sizable gay population among migrant workers in the Central Valley, where they've suffered illegal harassment on the job.

If the state had the hard data about this group of people, the state could theoretically take better action to protect their rights -- whether it's by providing improved funding for gay legal services such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights or some other method.

"AB 1878 will help ensure that the needs of the LGBT community will not be excluded so that state services can be appropriately targeted," says Assemblyman Ted Lieu in a press statement. "This bill is also about dignity and the recognition of the diversity of California."

Recognition of California's diversity is fine and sounds groovy, but we want laws to be enforced and the money to enforce them.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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