Sacramento, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Senate Bill 559, a landmark civil rights protection bill authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) was approved with strong bipartisan support by the State Senate today. The bill protects Californians by prohibiting discrimination based on genetic information in California. The legislation now goes to the Governor for his signature.

“This bill enhances the civil rights of every Californian,” said Senator Padilla. “Discrimination on the basis of genetic information is no less offensive than discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. California has a compelling interest in promoting and fostering the medical promise of genomics while relieving the fear of discrimination by strengthening laws to prevent it.”

Specifically, SB 559 would include genetic information as a prohibited basis for discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, education, public accommodations, health insurance coverage, life insurance coverage, mortgage lending, and elections

“California led the nation with the passage of the Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1959, SB 559 updates and strengthens the Unruh Act and brings it confidently into the 21st Century by adding genetic information,” said Senator Padilla. “More than 50 years after this groundbreaking Act was passed, we must ensure that with the advances in genetic testing that this information cannot be used to discriminate against any Californian.”

At a national level, the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) became Federal Law in 2008. However, the federal GINA’s range of genetic information and nondiscrimination protections is limited to employment and health insurance coverage. SB 559 would ensure that the range of coverage for Californians is consistent with existing California civil rights laws and would include genetic information as a prohibited basis for discrimination.