SACRAMENTO — A bill to prohibit job discrimination against homosexuals was shelved Thursday by its author in the wake of an intense lobbying campaign by religious fundamentalists opposed to the measure and the specter of a veto by Gov. George Deukmejian.
Assemblyman Art Agnos (D-San Francisco) said he withdrew the bill from consideration because he realized he did not have the minimum seven votes necessary to get it out of the Assembly Labor Committee, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 8 to 5.
Agnos' bill was identical to one he sponsored last year, which Deukmejian vetoed. The veto followed three previous attempts, which had been killed in the Legislature, to add homosexuals to the list of people protected against discrimination.
In his veto message, the governor said there had been no "compelling show of need" for the bill.
Agnos, who has championed gay rights since taking office in 1977, blamed the setback on a heavy lobbying campaign by religious fundamentalists and their "calculated distortion" in linking the issue of job discrimination to the "tragic illness" of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.