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For the first time, California would ask its contractors if they are gay under legislation passed Monday by the Assembly.

The measure, Assembly Bill 1960, would enable the owners of businesses that contract with the state to identify themselves as gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual. It would not require them to do so.

The Assembly vote was 47-24, with support from Democrats and from the only member not affiliated with either major party, Nathan Fletcher of San Diego.

The Department of General Services currently is required to collect data on contractors by race, ethnicity and gender. AB 1960 would add LGBT-owned businesses to that list.

The bill by Sacramento Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson seeks data involving state contracts for construction, professional services, and for the purchase of materials, supplies or equipment.

Dickinson said the measure would allow state officials and gay or lesbian groups to better pinpoint the extent to which LGBT-owned businesses are helping to drive the state economy.

* Updated at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday to say that support came from Democrats and from the Assembly's only member not affiliated with either major party, Nathan Fletcher of San Diego.

The measure is supported by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and by the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, among others. No organized opposition was listed in legislative committee analyses.

Republicans, in floor debate, said the state should not be delving so deeply into people's private lives and that the data collected is not likely to be accurate because of hesitancy in reporting sexuality.

Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, added that the measure could be a step toward quotas to benefit gay and lesbian businesses.

Dickinson countered that the bill's reporting would be voluntary, that state law does not allow such quotas, and that LGBT owners would stand to gain no financial advantage either way.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee has estimated that AB 1960 would cost the state $20,000 to update its forms and reporting instructions, then $35,000 annually to inform departments and compile data.

AB 1960 now goes to the Senate for consideration.



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