Bills Adding Protections for Gays Divide Assembly

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A series of bills intended to add more protections for gays and lesbians in California has been sparking acrimonious debate in the state Assembly. Last week, lawmakers approved three bills that apply existing state programs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. This week, they will consider a bill that would prohibit “gay-to-straight” therapy for minors. Two bills drew criticism from Assembly Republicans. One allows business owners contracting with the state to identify themselves by sexual orientation. Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby of Fullerton said that would lead to quotas. The other would require the state Department of Social Services to expand its foster parent education program to include sensitivity training related to sexual orientation. That bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, said Republican lawmakers had “harmful attitudes.”

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