Part of a decades-old state law that characterized homosexuality as a sexual deviation that must be cured is no longer on the books.
The law was written in 1950 and classifies gay people as sexual deviants. It requires the state to conduct research to find the causes of sex crimes against children and singles out homosexuals as a group that should be researched.
The department no longer conducts such research, but the law remained on the books. Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said the changes make the law read as it should have 60 years ago.
She said California is now "setting things right."
The bill passed the state Assembly Monday on a 62-0 vote. It now goes to the state Senate.
Lowenthal's original bill eliminated the entire section of code. She narrowed the focus after complaints from some members of the Public Safety Committee. They said the law's reference to homosexuality should be removed but that they wanted the state to continue researching sex crimes.
The Law's Background
California put the law on the books as a response to public outcry after a series of sex crimes in Los Angeles, which included the rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl. The murderer, who openly confessed his crime, was not gay.
"Even then, there was no legal justification to say that gay people needed to be understood and cured in the exact same way as sexual predators who rape and kill children," said Lowenthal, who sponsored the bill. "For us to leave it there would be wrong."
Lowenthal said California has not conducted research into homosexuality for decades, but did release several reports that examined hormone levels, physical characteristics and parental relationships of its subjects.
The American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a mental disorder until 1973.
"This code simply mischaracterizes and institutes bigotry against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community," said Mario Guerrero, a director of Equality California, a gay-rights group.
Guerrero stressed that his organization supports child safety and credible research, but not the research that was brought about by the law.
No lawmakers voiced opposition to the bill, but a group called Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays, also known as PFOX, sent a letter to Lowenthal stating that research into the causes of homosexuality is a legitimate form of science that benefits both ex-gay and gay communities.
The national organization advocates for the ex-gay community, stating that no one is born homosexual. They distribute religious and scientific information on the topic.
"Being able to research the cure for those types of emotions is the way we have hope," said Jeralee Smith, the PFOX California Educational Director, in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
Smith, 61, believes research into the causes and cures of homosexuality should be continued, and called the move to end funding offensive.