SACRAMENTO — An Assembly committee narrowly approved a hotly disputed bill Wednesday to outlaw job discrimination against homosexuals similar to legislation vetoed last year by Gov. Pete Wilson.
The governor's rejection caused thousands of gays and lesbians to take to the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, accusing Wilson of bowing to political pressure.
In his veto message, the governor said he rejected the measure because he feared burdensome lawsuits would be filed against small businesses and because there is already sufficient protection for homosexuals.
During the first committee hearing on this year's version of the bill, the Labor and Employment Committee, on a 6-3 vote, the bare majority required for approval, sent the bill to the Ways and Means Committee for another hearing.
The new job rights bill would not apply to firms with four or fewer employees, churches, or other religious nonprofit institutions.
During the same committee session, the lower house panel approved and sent to the Ways and Means Committee several anti-sexual harassment measures sponsored by Assemblywoman Jackie Speier (D-South San Francisco).