Newsom returned Senate Bill 541 without his signature, citing the lack of funding for such a widespread initiative in California’s 4,000 public schools….reports Asian Lite News
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has vetoed a bill proposed by State Senator Caroline Menjivar, which sought to make free condoms available in all state schools to curb unintended pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections among teenagers.
Newsom returned Senate Bill 541 without his signature, citing the lack of funding for such a widespread initiative in California’s 4,000 public schools. While acknowledging the bill’s potential benefits, Newsom expressed concerns about the financial burden it would place on the state, especially in its current economic challenges.
In his message, Newsom noted, “This bill would create an unfunded mandate to public schools that should be considered in the annual budget process.” He emphasised the need for fiscal discipline, given the state’s ongoing economic risks and revenue uncertainties.
Meanwhile, the Governor has also vetoed a legislation adding caste to the list of banned grounds for discrimination, saying it is already banned in the state, siding with advocacy groups of Hindu Americans who had mounted a countrywide effort to prevent the enactment of the Bill.
California will not become the first US state to ban caste specifically, which had looked possible in the aftermath of Seattle becoming the first American city to prohibit caste. The same people and groups that had made it possible in Washington state, were now determined to make California the first state to do so, triggering perhaps a domino effect into other states.
“California already prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, colour, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics, and state law specifies that these civil rights protections shall be liberally construed,” Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement explaining the veto.
“Because discrimination based on caste is already prohibited under these existing categories, this bill is unnecessary.”
Democratic Sate Senator Aisha Wahab, who had introduced the bill had said at the time, “Caste discrimination against the caste-oppressed Dalits–people formerly referred to as “the untouchables” by members of dominant castes–occurs across industries and may include bullying, harassment, bias, wage theft, sexual harassment, and even trafficking. Caste-oppressed people have also been rejected from rental housing when their caste identity is discovered. Additionally, the practice of endogamy–the custom of only marrying within one’s defined social position–perpetuates caste across generations.”
Hindu advocacy groups opposed the bill had put forth the same argument: caste is already covered among the prohibited grounds of discrimination and that adding it spefically to that list put a target on the community at large. They had sought to portray it as a manifestation of Hinduphobia being whipped up by opponents of the community. They welcomed the veto as a “victory”. (with inputs from agencies)