At a rally at the California State Capitol on Saturday, Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills that would help combat discrimination particularly faced by Sikhs: the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act (AB1964) and the History-Social Science Framework (SB1540).
Joined by Assembly Member Mariko Yamada, who introduced AB1964, and Dr. Onkar Bindra, who championed SB1540, the Governor ushered in a new day for Sikh Californians, and set a precedent for such legislation across the country. Both laws take effect on January 1, 2013, and are a great achievement.
The passage of these bills is of great significance to Sikhs and other religious minorities. The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act is now the strongest of its kind in the country, protecting employees from religious discrimination in employment (particularly around religious dress and grooming habits). The History-Social Science Framework provides California’s students education about the history and contributions of Sikh Americans. Combined, both laws will aid in reducing discrimination against Sikhs at various levels.
There are many organizations and individuals who certainly deserve credit for these legislative achievements. However, we must also recognize the legacy of those who lost their lives in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Their tragic loss undoubtedly made many aware of the need to combat the discrimination faced by Sikhs in this country.