SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California bill would require judges to consider a parent’s acceptance or affirmation of their child’s gender identity when weighing child custody disputes.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday vetoed Assembly Bill 957, which lawmakers passed earlier in September. The Assembly approved the measure and sent it to the governor’s desk on a party-line vote of 57-16.In a veto message, Newsom urged caution that the bill’s approach could be used “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,” Newsom’s message read. “For these reasons, I cannot sign this bill.”
When two parents get divorced and cannot agree on child custody, the decision is ultimately left up to judges. Judges must weigh a variety of factors when determining custody.
Bill author and Assemblymember Lori Wilson, a Democrat, said the intent of the bill was to protect the health and well-being of transgender children and noted parents would not be required to move forward with gender-affirming health care.
Lawmakers supporting the measure said gender affirmation would not be the only factor judges would need to consider if it were to become law.
Republicans against this bill argued judges in California already have the discretion to consider this factor in custody cases and noted the term “affirmation” is not defined in the proposed law.
Newsom had until Oct. 14 to sign or veto the measure.
This veto was one of two major vetoes Newsom made. He also chose against signing into law a bill that would have prohibited driverless big rigs without a human inside.