O.K. first of all, get up to speed on Senate Bill 242 from Leland Yee, PhD,the State Senate’s Assistant President pro Tempore, representing areas of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. This whole issue of language discrimination got kicked into high gear last year with some idiotic move from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), which apparently isn’t a pure sport – it’s “sports entertainment,” so there’s a high premium on having stars that speak English.
Anywho, Senator Yee’s bill to prevent language discrimination made it out of committee, so that put into the news, so that got some people down south a little riled up.
Listen for yourself (you might need to right click and then Save As…) to the message a caller left at Leland’s office:
“Hi. I just read an article, here in L.A. about Mr. Leland Lee (sic), about the English (sic) and all the language (sic). You know what? This is United States of America. If he don’t (sic) like it, tell him to go back to China. He’s an immigrant. This is the United States, we speak English.
“I had an emergency the other night. I use a radio. And the illegal immigrants kept talking, talking, and talking in Spanish and it was a serious emergency I had.
“English is our language – don’t like it, leave our country. Nobody’s begging you to stay. Stop coming to our country and try (sic) to change eveything to fit what YOU want. We created it, we like it the way it is, if you don’t like, YOU pack your bags and YOU go home.
Have a great day, Loo-eee…, Leland, which is a white name.”
So there you have it.
See the deets of SB 242 after the jump.
Language Discrimination Bill Approved by Committee
Senator Yee introduces bill in response to discriminatory policy proposed by the LPGA
SACRAMENTO – While speaking one’s native language is protected in cases of employment and housing under state law, such protections are not extended to consumers under the state’s civil rights act.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination within business establishments, usually to protect patrons from not receiving service. Currently, the Act prohibits business establishments from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved (3-2) legislation authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) to add the use of any language to the list of protections under the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
The issue stems from a proposed policy announced last summer by the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) to suspend players who do not speak English. The LPGA later rescinded the proposal after objections from Senator Yee and over 50 civil rights organizations.
“No one should be discriminated against simply for speaking their language,” said Yee. “SB 242 will rightfully add language to the list of protected classes within California’s civil rights act.”
In September of 2008, Senator Yee led an effort to oppose a discriminatory policy by the LPGA which would have required players on Tour to be proficient in English starting this year. Despite there being no relevance to the sport, the LPGA claimed that it was important for players to be able to interact with American media and event sponsors. Ironically, many of the sponsors are international companies and a number of the tournaments are not held in the United States. No other professional sports league in the United States has such a mandate.
“It is quite disheartening that in the 21stcentury any organization would think such a policy is acceptable,” said Yee. “With the passage of SB 242 such discriminatory mandates will not only be unfair, but illegal.”
Under SB 242, it would be a violation of state law for an entity to adopt or enforce a policy that limits or prohibits the use of any language in a business establishment, unless the language restriction is justified by a business necessity and notification has been provided of the circumstances at the time when the language restriction is required and of the consequences.
A business necessity would be defined as “an overriding legitimate business purpose for which all of the following are true: the language restriction is necessary to the safe and efficient operation of the business; the language restriction effectively fulfills the business purpose it is supposed to serve; and an alternative practice to the language restriction that would accomplish the business purpose equally well with a lesser discriminatory impact does not exist.”
SB 242 will now be considered by the entire Senate.
Protecting the Integrity of Ballots
The Senate Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments today approved (5-0) another bill authored by Senator Yee to help protect the integrity of ballots, specifically addressing the use of fraudulent non-English names during elections. The bill will also ensure that those who have a legitimate non-English name are provided the opportunity for the name to appear on the ballot.
Senate Bill 288 will create guidelines for the fair use of candidate names on ballots in jurisdictions that provide multiple language translations, such as Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese.
Currently, candidates can submit an ethnic name to appear on the ballot that is not a given name or a transliteration of their English name. This has resulted in abuse by some candidates who have created and used popular Asian names as a means of deceiving the public to gain votes. A reverse example would be equivalent to someone born with a Chinese language name, using Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan to appear as their English name on the ballot.
“SB 288 will ensure that the name appearing on the ballot is in fact the actual name or transliteration of the appropriate candidate,” said Yee. “Voters deserve to know the true identity of the individuals of whom they are asked to elect.”
SB 288 requires candidates who would like an alternative language name on the ballot to be provided a phonetic translation of their name by the county elections office or by the Secretary of State’s office.
Alternatively, if a candidate has a non-English language name by birth that can be demonstrated by a birth certificate or other valid identification, that name shall be used on the ballot instead of a phonetic translation. The bill also allows for a candidate who does not have a non-English language name by birth, but who uses a particular non-English name and can demonstrate that they have been known and identified within the public sphere with such a name for over two years, to be able to use that name instead of a phonetic translation.
“SB 288 attempts to stop the last-minute, deceptive practice of using a fake name simply to deceive Asian voters to win an election,” said Yee. “The bill will also make certain that an individual with legitimate non-English name will be able to have his or her name appear on the ballot. SB 288 will help to further protect the integrity of our electoral system.”
SB 288 must be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee before consideration by the full Senate.
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