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Mark Leno is an American politician, representing the 13th Assembly district of California, consisting of the eastern portion of San Francisco. Leno is the Chair of the Assembly's Public Safety Committee, as well as the Select Committees on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LBGT) Families and Childhood Obesity & Related Diabetes. Leno was elected to the Assembly in 2002; from 1998 to 2002 Leno served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
While initially viewed as a moderate, Leno has earned the respect of many San Francisco progressives who had initially opposed him. Mayor Willie Brown had originally appointed him to the Board of Supervisors in 1998, and Leno's earlier career was supportive of the Brown administration. But in 2000, Leno supported Proposition L, a progressive land-use reform measure that Brown bitterly opposed. This helped Leno get re-elected in an election year that voters strongly opposed the Brown Administration's policy of unbridled real estate development. By 2002, when Leno ran for the Assembly, Mayor Brown chose to endorse another candidate.
Jessica's Law controversy
Despite his job as Chair of the Assembly's Public Safety Committee, Leno's positions have lead to accusations of him being "soft on crime." For example, after he opposed the Jessica Lunsford Act and, instead, proposed a milder version, he was widely rebuked by those concerned about child welfare, who alleged that he was "a danger to society" and "a friend of child molestor." Leno later characterized these attacks as "the new McCarthyism."
Leno views Schwarzenegger's version of the Jessica Lunsford Act, which dictates that a sex offender cannot live within 2000 feet of a school or park frequented by children, as flawed; it would likely prevent sex offenders from living in urban areas at all, "where a park or school is never far away." Because of this, Leno has proposed his own version of the bill, which excludes the residency requirements which have been repudiated by Iowa's County Attorneys Association along with many other states and allows for a single image of child pornography to be charged as a felony. Current California law limits the first offense of child pornography possession to a misdemeanor regardless of the quantity of images.
Same-Sex Marriage in California
In 2005 Assemblyman Leno authored a bill legalizing same sex marraiges that became the first bill of its kind to pass a legislative body in the United States. AB 849 passed both the California Senate and the Assembly and went to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk, where it was vetoed.
California currently allows domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.