Will California Finally Allow Accents and Original Spellings on Birth Certificates?

If a proposed bill passes, it wouldn't just affect the state’s large Latino population but others with non-English names, such as Vietnamese, French and Arab American Californians

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A bill in the California Assembly, known as CA Assembly Bill 77, seeks to allow residents of California to use diacritical marks — like accents— and the Spanish-language letter "ñ" on government-issued documents.

This comes after California voters passed Prop 63 in 1986, which established English as the official language of the state, causing those who have accent marks or tildes in their names to be barred from including them in birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and other forms of government documents.

The law allowed hyphens for names such as Smith-Jones and apostrophes in names like "O'Hare," but accents used in names in other languages such as Spanish were “unacceptable entries.”

The proposed change would affect not only California's large Latino population but also those with non-English names from other cultural backgrounds such as Vietnamese, French or Arab heritage. If passed, residents would be able to request new documents with the desired changes for a fee.

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