Press Release

Senate Approves Senator Padilla’s Legislation to Protect LGBTQ+ Community after Disasters

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 990 by Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego), which will direct the Office of Emergency Services to specifically establish what best practices state and local governments are to use when addressing the needs of the LGBTQ+ community after a disaster.

In 2023, the US was struck by 28 separate billion-dollar disasters, breaking the previous record of 22 events set in 2020. As the climate continues to change, the frequency of these disasters will only increase, devastating communities and displacing people from their homes.

LGBTQ+ individuals – particularly LGBTQ+ people of color – are displaced at nearly double the rate of cisgender and heterosexual individuals, according to a recent study conducted by the University of California, Irvine. Furthermore, LGBTQ+ people in California are more likely to experience water insecurity (39% v. 20%), unsanitary conditions (47% v. 19%), a shortage of food (25% v. 23%), and a fear of crime (70% v. 35%) after a disaster. Fires displace LGBTQ+ people at twice the rate (30%) than non-LGBTQ+ people (14%), and recent studies also show that LGBTQ+ individuals in California experience extraordinarily high levels of permanent displacement; 52% of LGBTQ+ Californians never returned to their homes after displacement compared to 17% of cisgender, heterosexual individuals.

Bias in disaster response programs, failure to recognize unique LGBTQ+ family structures, barriers to obtaining proper identification, and anti-LGBTQ+ practices at some disaster-relief services provided by faith-based organizations all compound to heighten the risks that LGBTQ+ communities face during a disaster. Despite recent efforts to consider LGBTQ+ communities in disaster preparedness efforts, state and federal agencies continue to lack a clear strategy on how to integrate LGBTQ+ people into disaster preparedness, planning, and emergency response.

“Our state policies and guidelines must serve all Californians equitably,” said Senator Padilla. “In the aftermath of a disaster, people need to know that they are going to get the care and services they need, without the fear of discrimination or the shadow of prejudice. When people are at their most vulnerable, it is at the very core of our values to be there to render aid, no matter who they love.”

SB 990 will require the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to update the State Emergency Plan to include proposed policies and best practices for local governments and nongovernmental entities to equitably serve LGBTQ+ communities during an emergency or natural disaster. The bill will require CalOES to coordinate with representatives from LGBTQ+ communities, including, social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, advocates, and researchers.

SB 990 passed the Senate by a vote of 32 to 1 and now heads to the Assembly.


Steve Padilla represents the 18th Senate District, which includes the communities of Chula Vista, the Coachella Valley, Imperial Beach, the Imperial Valley, National City, and San Diego. Prior to his election to the Senate in 2022, Senator Padilla was the first person of color ever elected to city office in Chula Vista, the first Latino Mayor, and the first openly LGBT person to serve or be elected to city office. Website of Senator Steve Padilla: