Gov. Gavin Newsom, usually a reliable supporter of LGBTQ+ legislation, vetoed three pro-LGBTQ+ bills over the weekend, saying he was concerned about the impact and consequences.
On Sunday, the Democratic governor vetoed Assembly Bill 524, which would have banned employment discrimination based on family caregiver status. LGBTQ+ groups had supported the bill because many people in the community, who are estranged from their families, care for “chosen family” members.
In his veto message, Newsom said the bill was unclear about what would be considered illegal discrimination.
“I am concerned about the large burden it will place on employers, particularly small businesses, especially given the ambiguous nature of the language,” he said.
“Although the bill does not require employers to provide ‘special accommodations’ based on ‘family caregiver status,’ it is not clear what types of acts would constitute unlawful discrimination and what types of acts would be lawful denials of ‘special accommodations’,” Newsom said. “Given this ambiguity, this bill would be difficult to implement and lead to costly litigation for employers in California.”
Assemblymember Buffy Wicks didn’t release a statement about the veto.
Newsom, on Saturday, vetoed AB 1645, authored by gay Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Hollywood). It would have barred insurers from imposing co-pays or other cost-sharing arrangements on certain preventive services and screenings. It would have included drugs used for HIV prevention, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
Some far-right individuals and businesses in Texas have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for coverage of preventive services, arguing that PrEP coverage interferes with their religious freedom because it facilitates behavior they find immoral. A judge has ruled in their favor, but the case is on appeal.
Newsom said Zbur’s bill goes beyond existing law and would raise costs that would be passed on to policyholders.
“Components of this proposal depart from structures in federal and state law, such as the existing policies for reimbursement to non-contracted providers,” Newsom said. “Further, because this bill exceeds the cost-sharing provisions under the Affordable Care Act, it would result in increased costs to health plans passed on to consumers through premiums.”
Also Saturday, he vetoed AB 1432, from Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), which would have required out-of-state insurers providing plans for Californians to cover abortion and related services, plus gender-affirming care. He said the bill could invite lawsuits, and he noted that it may be unnecessary.
“It is not evident that out-of-state health insurance plans serving Californians do not already cover this care,” Newsom said. “Further, though well intentioned, this bill could invite litigation where an adverse ruling would outweigh a potential benefit.”
In a statement, Carrillo said, “While the Governor has been a champion of reproductive issues, he missed the mark by his veto. AB 1432 represents a pivotal component within an extensive legislative agenda, spearheaded by the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Future of Abortion Council.”
Newsom signed nine LGBTQ-supportive bills into law in late September, while vetoing one other, which would have required judges in custody cases to take into account whether a parent affirms a child’s gender identity.