Assembly Narrowly OKs Comprehensive Civil Rights Legislation


Without a vote to spare, the Assembly on Wednesday passed a comprehensive civil rights bill by Democratic Speaker Willie Brown that he said would give California the toughest anti-discrimination laws in the nation.

A 41-33 vote sent the legislation to a questionable fate in the Senate. Forty-one Democrats voted for the civil rights bill; no Republicans supported it. Thirty Republicans and three Democrats voted against it.

Among other things, the measure would outlaw job discrimination against gays and lesbians, restore the authority of the Fair Employment and Housing Commission to award relief to discrimination victims, forbid discrimination against disabled people and prohibit employers from requiring employees to only speak English in the workplace.

In addition, it would overturn four recent state Supreme Court decisions, including rulings that took away the authority of the housing commission to grant damages for pain and suffering in sexual harassment cases and restricted the rights of families denied housing because they could not show proof of minimum income.

Although the legislation, which was drawn up before the Los Angeles riots, would have no direct bearing on conditions that gave rise to the unrest after the verdicts in the Rodney G. King case, the Speaker said it would give hope to minorities who suffered in the rioting.

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