Newsom Disappoints Progressives, Vetoes Anti-Parents Bill
California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) on Friday vetoed a bill (AB 957) which would have required family courts to consider “a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression” when determining the best interests of the child. “This bill would effectively amend CA code to require family courts to award custody to parents who affirm a child’s gender identity and deny custody to parents who do not affirm,” explained Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for Education Studies. The move disappointed the governor’s progressive allies.
“I appreciate the passion and values that led the author to introduce this bill,” Newsom stated in a veto message. “I share a deep commitment to advancing the rights of transgender Californians, an effort that has guided my decisions through many decades in public office.”
“That said, I urge caution when the Executive and Legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate — in prescriptive terms that single out one characteristic — legal standards for the Judicial branch to apply,” Newsom added. “Other-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities.”
Newsom added that existing laws already achieved the same purpose. “Moreover, a court, under existing law, is required to consider a child’s health, safety, and welfare when determining the best interests of a child in these
proceedings, including the parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity,” he wrote.
“The bill declaring California a sanctuary state for children seeking sex change already accomplishes this goal,” Kilgannon told The Washington Stand. Last October, Newsom signed into law a bill authorizing California courts to take “temporary emergency jurisdiction” of children from California or any other state “because the child has been unable to obtain gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care.”
According to the current California family code, courts must consider “the health, safety, and welfare of the child,” any history of abuse or drug use by the parents, and “the nature and amount of contact with both parents.” The only mention of gender identity in this section stipulates that the court “shall not consider the sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation of a parent, legal guardian, or relative in determining the best interests of the child.”
However, Newsom’s veto left his progressive allies dissatisfied. “I am extremely disappointed. I know the Governor’s record. He [has] been a champion for the LGBTQ+ community for years and even before it was popular to do so,” said California Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D), the bill’s sponsor. “However, on this point, the Governor and I disagree on the best way to protect TGI [transgender, gender-diverse, and intersex] kids.”
“This veto is a tragedy for trans kids here & around the country,” said California Senator Scott Wiener (D), former chair of the legislative LGBTQ caucus. “These kids are living in fear, with right wing politicians working to out them, deny them health care, ban them from sports & restrooms & erase their humanity.”
Across the aisle, California Assembly Minority Leader James Gallagher (R) wrote that Newsom’s veto, which “agree[d] with many of the points raised by myself and the opposition,” was “a glimmer of rationality and hope.”
Yet many conservatives expressed skepticism about Newsom’s intentions, suggesting his veto was a political calculation. “Never trust their motives. Be glad this happened and also see it as a stepping stone to something worse,” warned author James Lindsay. “I guess Gavin Newsom is running for President after all,” wrote Public Square founder Michael Seifert. “Newsom wants to run for President[,] and he knows this would sink his chances,” suggested One America News host Kara McKinney.
“As Democratic operatives and voters fantasize about ways to get President Biden and VP Harris off the ticket, it seems Governor Newsom is putting himself in a position to run,” said Kilgannon. “He may think that this veto will make him seem reasonable on the gender issue. But he has already signed so many bills that put LGBTQ+ activists first, parents last, and children in danger — this one veto hardly comes close to making up for his attempt to redefine the family.”
Kilgannon continued, “This veto, while cravenly self-serving, does prove that there is a limit for Democratic politicians on the issue of gender identity: when the radical implications of gender ideology are offensive to voters and inconvenient to politicians.”
In California, a veto override attempt must achieve a two-thirds majority to succeed — 27 out of 40 votes in the state Senate and 54 votes in the state Assembly (lower house). Democrats currently hold a 32-8 majority in the California Senate and a 62-18 majority in the California Assembly.
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.