Two contentious pieces of legislation promoting LGBT equality have been passed by the California State Legislature.

A bill to allow same-sex couples to submit joint tax returns is a modest attempt to extend partnership benefits to gays and lesbians.

The second bill has proved deeply controversial, with angry and at times homophobic exchanges in the Legislature.

It had originally called for lesbian and gay history to be taught in schools, and would have included sexual orientation on a list of requirements, such as gender and race, which schools in California cannot ignore or discriminate against and must recognise positively in textbooks.

The Terminator-turned-policitian indicated that he would veto the bill in its original form.

The compromise legislation prohibits teachers, textbooks and other teaching material in public schools from presenting LGBT people in a negative light.

It will stop public schools teaching that, for example, homosexuality is wrong or that AIDS was caused by gay people.

The schools bill had been the subject of a disinformation campaign by fundamentalist Christians, who claimed that the bill would ban textbooks that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. It passed the state Assembly and Senate last week.

The bill’s author, state Senator Shiela Kuehl, was hopeful that her watered-down proposal would clear the final legislative hurdle: “With this very small request that’s left in the bill, I’m in great hopes the governor will sign it and help protect against further discrimination.”

Both bills are now in front of Schwarzenegger, who has until 30th September to sign or veto the new legislation.

The governor yesterday signed a bill banning discrimination in state operated or funded programmes on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.

The new law covers all public services such as police and fire services, finanical assistance, social services and the distribution of food stamps.