State Sen. Melissa Melendez
State Sen. Melissa Melendez has proposed legislation that would add political affiliation to a list of classes — such as race, gender and religious creed — that are protected under California’s anti-discrimination laws. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Politics

Decrying ‘cancel culture,’ state senator seeks to make political affiliation a protected class

A California state senator has proposed legislation intended to curb so-called cancel culture by adding political affiliation to a list of classes — such as race, gender and religious creed — that are protected under California’s anti-discrimination laws.

State Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) has introduced two bills: the first, which she has dubbed the Diversity of Thought Act, would make political affiliation a protected class under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act; the second would amend the state’s education code and require schools to counter bullying on the basis of a student’s political beliefs, much as schools are compelled to root out bullying on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation.

If the first bill becomes law, it would be illegal to deny someone a job or withhold housing on the basis of that person’s political affiliation. Landlords could not evict someone solely because of his or her political beliefs; banks and other lenders would be barred from denying someone financing on the basis of his or her politics.

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It is unclear if anyone in the state has been evicted or denied a mortgage because of political convictions.

The second bill targets the education code. Schools are compelled to have policies against discrimination and bullying on the basis of a student’s gender, race, religion and sexual orientation, among other protected classes. Melendez’s bill would add political affiliation to that list.

Under state law, schools must have not only policies against discrimination and bullying on the basis of these protected classes, but a process to field allegations of such conduct and investigate them.

“Cancel culture and the efforts to silence differing opinions and voices should be a growing concern for all of us,” Melendez said in a statement.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times, a Lookout content partner.