As discrimination based on caste is already prohibited, this bill is unnecessary explains the Governor of California
An organization representing Hindu parents in California, eminent Indian-Americans, and a Dalit advocacy group on Saturday welcomed the decision of California Governor Gavin Newsom to veto the anti-caste discrimination bill, saying it was brought with the sole intention of “stereotyping the community.”
“In California, we believe everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter who they are, where they come from, who they love, or where they live,” Newsom said in a statement issued Saturday.
“That is why California already prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics, and state law specifies that these civil rights protections shall be liberally construed. Because discrimination based on caste is already prohibited under these existing categories, this bill is unnecessary,” he explained.
The governor vetoed the bill SB403. Newsom asserted that he “cannot sign” the bill known as ‘SB403’, which was passed by a large majority by both the House of Representatives and Senate of the California State Assembly.
“With the stroke of his pen, Governor Newsom has averted a civil rights and constitutional disaster that would have put a target on hundreds of thousands of Californians simply because of their ethnicity or their religious identity, as well as create a slippery slope of facially discriminatory laws,” said Samir Kalra, managing director of Hindu American Foundation.
Leading Democrat Ajay Bhutoria, in a statement, expressed his gratitude to Governor Newsom for vetoing the bill and described it as a “momentous development”.
During a recent engagement at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) event in Chicago, Bhutoria from California and Rakesh Kapur from Boston urged the governor to veto the bill.
“This is a culmination of the efforts of the entire #HinduAmerican community, and the hundreds of organizations, temples, businesses, and allies that fought against #profiling. We rose above the lies, the insinuations, and the wild accusations – and we prevailed,” said Coalition of Hindus of North America.
“As California’s Governor has rightly pointed out, California’s law on civil rights already covers all instances of discrimination. We believe that this bill was brought with the sole intention of stereotyping Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Muslims, and other communities from South Asia,” said Vaishali V, president of Ambedkar-Phule Network of American Dalits and Bahujans.
“While we welcome the veto, we know that nothing can bring back the life of our leader Milind Makwana who was the voice marginalised and at the forefront of the struggle against SB-403 Nothing can heal the loss and the trauma that this bill has caused to the families of the marginalised communities,” Vaishali said.
Expressing profound relief and gratitude following Governor Newsome’s decision to veto bill SB403, Hindu Parents said this significant decision stands as a beacon against prejudice, discrimination, and misinformation about Hinduism and its followers in California.
“With this development, our children can look forward to a future where they are not subject to undue stereotyping and profiling based on perceptions. This ensures they can practice their faith peacefully, with pride, and without the looming shadows of colonial-era stereotypes and prejudice,” Hindu Parents said.
Eminent Indian American Yogi Chug said Governor Newsom’s veto of SB403 demonstrates the outcome of a protracted and long effort by the Indian-American community to advocate for the limitations of the original bill as authored.
“One must applaud the relentless effort of so many community members who diligently made the case for ensuring that no one is singled out or profiled as it iterated through various versions in the California legislature,” he said.
“Millions of American Hindus, and people from the Indian subcontinent can take a sigh of relief, that they won’t be targeted for hate and prejudice under the garb of “caste”,” said Hindu Action in a statement.
“Kudos to the California governor for vetoing the racist bill on caste. It turned an existing law against discrimination and used it to target Hindus specifically. What hypocrisy by those claiming to fight prejudice? Our pushback has finally produced results,” said author Rajiv Malhotra.
Equality Lab, which had relentlessly worked for the bill and its passage, said though Governor Newsom has rejected the legislation for now, the caste equity movement still views this as a win. SB403 is the first anti-caste discrimination bill to have made it all the way through the California legislature, it said.
Kiran Kaur Gill of SALDEF, said they are deeply disappointed by Governor Newsom’s veto of SB 403, which would have banned caste discrimination in California.
Rasheed Ahmed, of Indian American Muslim Council, said the Indian-American Muslims are shocked, disheartened, and deeply disappointed to see that Governor Newsom backed down from the chance to uphold the civil rights of all Californians and make history.
The Sikh Coalition is deeply disappointed to learn that Governor Newsom has chosen to veto SB403, said Harman Singh.