San Bruno does not weigh in on caste bill


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Jul 15, 2023

San Bruno does not weigh in on caste bill

Reporter The San Bruno City Council won’t take a stance on an anti-discrimination bill focused on the Hindu caste system that just passed the state Assembly because of timing. The council had an


The San Bruno City Council won’t take a stance on an anti-discrimination bill focused on the Hindu caste system that just passed the state Assembly because of timing.

The council had an opportunity to decide Tuesday, Aug. 22, to oppose the legislation, Senate Bill 403, authored by state Sen. Aisha Wahab, D-Hayward. However, the bill passed the state Assembly, 55-3, Monday, Aug. 28, and could reach Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk early September if the state Senate passes it again.

The bill concerns some of the city’s Hindu residents who asked the city to oppose it because it is causing anguish. At the meeting last week, Mangala Kumar said the proposed bill has caused unnecessary trauma toward the Hindu community.

“When the lawmakers come after us for some things that they don’t have a gut level understanding of, that is extremely hurtful,” Kumar said. “I have been in America for 43 years and nobody asks what my caste is.”

The bill aims to outlaw caste discrimination in the state, adding it as a protected category in the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Caste is an ancient system that tied one’s birth to social standing.

The soonest the City Council could put it on the agenda, however, was Sept. 12. That meant the council could be discussing a bill that potentially was either already signed or vetoed. The motion by Councilmember Marty Medina to place the item on the agenda failed to gain a second vote. Vice Mayor Tom Hamilton said he wanted to be clear that not taking action doesn’t mean the council doesn’t support its Hindu residents.

“Not wanting to take what would be a fruitless action of us having a proclamation against SB 403, when it has absolutely no chance of affecting the vote because the vote would have already happened. I do not want anybody in this community to equate that with we condone discrimination against Hindus,” Hamilton said.

Mayor Rico Medina signed a proclamation against Hinduphobia in the city Tuesday, Aug. 15. However, Dr. Dilip Amin said the Hindu community is looking for a more substantial stance from the city.

“Now, it would be good to have a stronger resolution from the City Council against the … bill. California SB 403 is not … neutral and unequivocally targets Hindu-Americans, the likelihood of this bill becoming law is causing a great deal of anguish in our community,” Amin said. “This bill is about us, but without us.”

Rico Medina said he called Assemblymember Diane Papan, D-San Mateo, to inform her of the residents’ concern for the bill.

The city is home to the only Hindu temple, Sanatan Mandir, within 20 miles, Amin said, who added Hindus travel far and wide to practice religion in San Bruno.

[email protected]

(650)344-5200, ext. 105


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