A hotly-contested bill that would promote and honor “sexual orientation” in public schools was narrowly approved March 18 in an Assembly committee in Sacramento. On a 8-6 majority vote, the 15-member Higher Education Committee passed AB 101 by lesbian assemblymember Sheila James Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), which would insert “sexual orientation” into the Education Code’s non-discrimination provisions. The bill now goes to the Education Committee.
Before approving the bill, the committee added amendments to state that the bill would not prevent the Boy Scouts, ROTC or religious clubs from meeting on K-12 and college campuses. However, this was simply to provide political cover for certain committee members, said Randy Thomasson, assistant director of Capitol Resource Institute.
The deciding vote to pass AB 101 came from Assemblyman Jim Cunneen, a moderate Republican from Santa Clara County. Cuneen first abstained from the vote, but later added his “aye” vote to make sure the bill passed. In a hallway discussion with Thomasson, Cuneen satisfied the nearly dozen homosexual activists who surrounded him after his abstention and convinced him to add his deciding vote.
Although the bill passed, two Democrats went on record to oppose AB 101. Voting “no” were Dennis Cardoza of Merced and Sally Havice of Bellflower. Both Cardoza and Havice are freshman legislators who had won election by slim margins, and who had received heavy pressure in their districts to oppose the bill.
However, despite intense pressure from his district, Democrat freshman Jack Scott of Pasadena voted in favor of AB 101. “I am very supportive of the aim of this bill,” said Scott, noting that, as a college president, he supported the efforts of gays and lesbians. Scott, an ordained Church of Christ minister, had garnered the support of black churches in last year’s election cycle. “He talked about education and welfare,” said one black pastor. “But he never talked to us about his views on homosexuality.”
Steve Baldwin, R-El Cajon, the only member of the committee from San Diego County, voted against the bill. Organizations going on record to oppose AB 101 were Capitol Resource Institute, Traditional Values Coalition, Committee on Moral Concerns and others. Also providing testimony on the negative aspects of AB 101 was attorney Gary Kreep of the U.S. Justice Foundation in Escondido.