Home>Articles>Bill To Allow Accent Marks On Birth, Marriage Certificates Gains Traction In Assembly

Assemblywoman Blanca Pacheco (Photo: pachecoforassembly.com)

Bill To Allow Accent Marks On Birth, Marriage Certificates Gains Traction In Assembly

Issues over cost, federal records compliance continue to hurt bill

By Evan Symon, March 28, 2023 5:39 pm

A bill that would allow accent marks on names when placed on birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage licenses gained more traction in the Assembly this week,

Assembly Bill 77, authored by Assemblywoman Blanca Pacheco (D-Downey), would specifically require the State Registrar to require the use of an accent mark, also known as a diacritical mark, on an English letter to be properly recorded on a certificate of live birth, fetal death, or death, and a marriage license and would require the use of a diacritical mark to be deemed an acceptable entry by the State Registrar. An absence of an accent mark on such a certificate would not render the document invalid nor affect any constructive notice imparted by proper recordation of the document.

In addition, under AB 77, if a mark is not placed on such a certificate, then a written request to the state registrar would be needed for the correct marks to be added for a new certificate. The bill would require the State Registrar to review the request and, if the request is accompanied with the payment of a specified fee, to issue a new certificate of live birth, fetal death, death, or marriage with the accurate name identified in the request.

Before AB 77, the legislation was attempted prior, since accent marks were not allowed beginning in 1986 following a new state law, Prop 63, declaring English to be the official language. In 2014, then Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner introduced AB 2528, but the bill died in Assembly committee when it was shown that updating of records and files would cost at least $10 million. Three years later, the legislation had more luck with then-Assemblyman Jose Medina’s AB 82 when it passed the legislature, but it was vetoed by then-Governor Jerry Brown given the expense and because of a large projected number of inconsistencies in records with federal records not having accent marks.

Assemblywoman Pacheco, who wrote the bill to be inclusive to the diversity of the state and to avoid the wrong pronunciation of names that has permeated many communities for decades, noted last month that she hopes that the third time will be the charm.

“We do not anticipate there being a high cost,” said Pacheco. “People can have their birth certificates amended and pay a fee that needs to be paid. I authored AB 77 because I was shocked that accent marks are not allowed. California is a diverse state, and that’s why this is the first bill that I introduced. California is the cradle of technological innovation. It’s hard to accept that this is a burden the state can’t overcome. It’s a different governor and a different time so I’m optimistic that we can get it done this time around.”

Other supporters noted that while it would affect Latinos in the state, many other cultures would be affected as well.

“French, German, Vietnamese, and so many others would be able to bring back accent marks too,” Tia Ryman, a naming historian, told the Globe on Tuesday. “We allow apostrophes in names, like with Irish names, but we don’t allow diacritical marks in California that you see in Spanish and a lot of other languages. It kind of robs you of your cultural identity. To many, this is like your last name being anglicized at Ellis Island.”

“I know that, over time, people will just fall into speaking English, but with Spanish, it has had a lot of staying power, with well over two-thirds of the next generation in the U.S. continuing to speak it to some degree. So diacritical marks are critical to many.”

Opposition against AB 77

While support has been growing, there have also been many who noted that the bill may not pass yet again given the many remaining problems.

“Pacheco has not said what the costs will be,” noted “Dana,” a Capitol staffer, to the Globe on Tuesday. “A lot of people are worried about that, including some Latino legislators who would otherwise be all for the bill. California needs to be cutting back, and adding in this program that would likely cost at least $10 million is just something the state can’t afford right now.”

“She also hasn’t said how it would stand up against federal documents and others that don’t use accent marks, nor has she guaranteed that no confusion would come from the bill in differences of name pronunciations due to some families wanting accent mark changes and others not wanting them. The bill is coming from a good place, but to get everyone on board, and not risk another veto, these issues need to be addressed.”

AB 77 is expected to be heard in Assembly committees soon.

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9 thoughts on “Bill To Allow Accent Marks On Birth, Marriage Certificates Gains Traction In Assembly

  1. With all the major issues facing Californians, accent marks on documents isn’t one of them? Assemblywoman Blanca Pacheco is another leftist Democrat who couldn’t make it as a lawyer so she went into Democrat politics first becoming a member of the Downey City Council, then Mayor of Downey, and now in the 64th Assembly District. The majority of her constituents in Downey, Norwalk, Whittier, and La Mirada are probably not clamoring for this bill?

    1. No kidding, Mario, “the majority of her constituents are probably not clamoring for this bill.” Sigh..
      Besides, legislators are going to have to show some discipline and realize the state can no longer afford trifles like this.

  2. As someone with accent marks in my first name, I am ambivalent about this. However, it has irked me my whole life, as those accent marks — diacritics — are essential to the actual pronunciation of my name. Something most Americans don’t, or won’t, grasp. In this “global community” we are supposed to be living in (according to the leftists), why doesn’t the internet and most computer systems not understand diacritics?

    1. I appreciate the personal need you have expressed. I have been frustrated at times when that is mot available.
      It seems that this is more of a procedural issue and does not need to be legislated.
      We have bigger issues to tackle in this state.

  3. Geeeezus….. talk about tilting at windmills…..

    With all of the SERIOUS issues confronting California, these knuckleheaded legislators confront THIS topic???

    Like EVERYTHING else in this state is running just fine????

    More social diversity virtue-signaling….

  4. Here is an actual important bill – AB 665 – co-author Scott Wiener of course – which has now gained traction.
    Read about it – it’s more potential transgender indoctrination by “allowing” children as young as 12 years old to check themselves into group homes (for supposed mental health reasons) without parental consent:
    There is a link to the bill in the article. Please contact your legislative reps ASAP strongly urging a NO VOTE. This attempted state takeover of minors must END.

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