California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) broke from others in his party by vetoing a bill that would have used parents’ acceptance of their children’s gender identity as a potential marker for child abuse. The veto comes as California has accepted a number of gender-related measures, and could mark the first significant recent development against further changes.
The governor vetoed Assembly Bill 957, which would have allowed courts to consider whether or not parents accepted their children’s gender identity as a criterion of child abuse. The bill stated that such affirmation would be considered part of the “health, safety and welfare of the child.”
Despite being passed by the state legislature, Newsom refused to sign the legislation Friday.
Newsom wrote in his vetos statement that while he appreciated “the passion and values that led the author to introduce this bill,” he urged “caution when the Executive and Legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate” policy or legal standards.
He said that should the state pass such a bill, other states “could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities.”
The governor also said that under existing law, courts must consider the child’s health and circumstances in determining custody, which he said includes “the parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity.”
“For these reasons,” he wrote, “I cannot sign this bill.”
Late on a Friday night, Gavin Newsom just vetoed AB 957, which would have required judges to remove custody of children from parents who don’t “affirm" a child's "gender identity or gender expression.” pic.twitter.com/fXfdYtBNS4
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 23, 2023
The bill had received considerable criticism prior to making it to the governor’s desk, with parents protesting at the state legislature.
Despite the veto, the state is still undertaking a number of actions tied to gender identity, especially for young people. Last month, the state announced that it was suing a school district that required schools to inform parents if their children change their gender identification.
The court case could be a major part of court precedent as similar battles are emerging in a number of states across the country.
A number of Republican-dominated states are either introducing or have passed such parental notification requirements.