In a surprise move, Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) vetoed a bill that would have allowed judges to consider whether a parent “affirms” a child’s “gender identity” among other factors during custody battles.
In his veto message, Newsom said that the bill might be used to limit the “civil rights of vulnerable minorities,” saying that judges in California were already supposed to look at parental “affirmation” during determinations of child safety. The bill had drawn backlash from advocates who said that parents could lose custody of a child if they don’t agree with a child’s claims to be transgender.
“I appreciate the passion and values that led the author to introduce this bill. 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,” he said.
“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 wrote. “Other-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities.”
“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 added.
According to the bill, which was proposed by Democrat Assemblymember Lori Wilson, “the health, safety, and welfare of the child includes, among other comprehensive factors, a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression. Affirmation includes a range of actions and will be unique for each child, but in every case must promote the child’s overall health and well-being.”
Republicans and conservative groups, who opposed the bill, said that it would have eroded parents’ rights and could be easily manipulated for one parent to gain custody of a child over the other.
Wilson said that she was “extremely” disappointed with Newsom’s decision, saying that he had previously been a “champion for the LGBTQ community.”
“My intent with this bill was to give them a voice, particularly in the family court system where a non-affirming parent could have a detrimental impact on the mental health and well-being of a child,” she posted on X.
Newsom has been a proponent of radical gender theory throughout his time at office, and has previously signed a bill that makes California a “refuge” for parents who want their children to undergo sex-change procedures, including life-altering surgeries and hormone treatments.
He also signed a bill into law that allows men to be placed in women’s prisons if they identify as a woman.