By Julian Schoen

Asserting California as a model for equal rights, state legislature approved Assembly Bill 102 in a majority vote of 45-20 on Monday, May 7.

The measure, which eased the restraints for individuals wishing to adopt their romantic partners’ last names, awaits a decision from Governor Schwarzenegger.

AB 102, also known as the Name Equality Act, attacks the patriarchal bias afflicting newlyweds and domestic partners.

Before, marriage law made it much easier for women to obtain their husband’s last names. In order for a husband to take his wife’s name, the couple would have to go through a lengthy and strenuous judicial process.

The approval of AB 102 allows married couples and same-sex partners equal opportunities to choose their surnames.

The bill is a major victory for previously disenfranchised gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender couples. AB 102 opens new doors for domestic partners’ rights, sending a progressive message across the nation. 	

Sabrina Petrescu, an intern at UC Santa Cruz’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Intersex (GLBTI) Resource Center, identified how the new generation of discrimination has encompassed gender and relationship bigotry.

Homosexuality “has a stigma,” preventing widespread acceptance for equal rights, she said.

However, Petrescu went on to proclaim the strength the GLBTI movement has gained.

She concluded by saying any time discrimination is apparent in everyday life, it should become a priority to the population.

Mike Rotkin, Santa Cruz city councilman, agrees. Rotkin expressed his satisfaction with the bill’s approval.

“I believe in equality for everybody,” Rotkin explained. “[AB 102] represents total equality and is totally reasonable.”

Rotkin went on to describe the bill’s importance in relation to the California population. There is a large demographic, he said, which would be greatly affected by the governor’s approval of AB 102.

“This bill affects ten percent of the state’s population,” Rotkin explained. “This bill is as important as anything else.”

Jim Brown, executive director of the Santa Cruz Diversity Center, is elated over the legislature’s approval of AB 102.

“[Previous laws were] just a matter of tradition,” Brown said. “The age of the patriarchy and treating women as property is finally coming to an end. It’s incredibly exciting.”

Brown explained that the city of Santa Cruz has been far ahead of the rest of the state in the pursuit of equal rights.

The city’s Gay Pride festivities are a 33-year-old tradition, and the Diversity Center has been open for 18 years.

Brown concluded, “[This bill] is an opportunity to educate and progress.”