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Biden in Long Beach: ‘The eyes of the nation are upon you- vote no’

“You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you get Donald Trump,” Biden said. “The choice should be absolutely clear. Gavin Newsom.”

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President Joe Biden addressing Newsom recall rally September 13, 2021 (Screenshot via KTLA)

LONG BEACH – On the last day of hard campaigning prior to Tuesday’s recall election, California Governor Gavin Newson was joined by the ultimate powerful voice in his party as President Joe Biden took to the stage with him at the Long Beach City College Monday evening.

The president took the stage to applause from the approximately 1,100 people who attended tonight’s rally gathered on the City College main quad. He walked on to “California Soul” by Marlena Shaw as Newsom finished speaking. Biden spoke for about 15 minutes and pushed for voters to vote no on the recall, citing Newsom’s record on the pandemic, women’s rights and climate change and minimum wage. 

The president stressed to the crowd that, “Voting no will be protecting California from Trump.” He called out the leading candidate to replace Newsom should he be ousted, Larry Elder, citing the right-wing radio host’s positions on COVID-19 measures, women’s rights, the minimum wage, immigrant rights and what the president referred to as the dark derisive politics of Donald Trump.

“For these Republican governors it isn’t about public health, it’s about politics,” Biden said. “Just look at the hypocrisy. The same governors attacking me and your governor for Covid-19 mandates are in states with some of the strictest vaccine mandates for children in the whole country.” 

“We need science, we need courage, we need leadership. We need Gavin Newsom,” Biden said. 

“A governor who follows science, who’s got the courage to do what’s right,” Biden said. 

“To me it’s pretty basic, if you’re working a 40-hour week, you shouldn’t be living in poverty,” Biden said, raising voice. 

“You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you get Donald Trump,” Biden said. “The choice should be absolutely clear. Gavin Newsom. You have a governor who has the courage to lead.” 

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Biden said. 

“California, I’m not sure you know it,” Biden said. “This isn’t hyperbole: The eyes of the nation are on California because of the decision you’re about to make. The decision you’re about to make is going to have a huge impact on California, and it’s going to reverberate around the nation. And, quite frankly, not a joke – around the world.”

Afterwards Biden, Newsom and California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom exited the stage after waving to supporters, walking off to the song “Stop in the name of love,” by Diana Ross and the Supremes. 

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California Politics

Out Assemblymember Evan Low eyes South Bay House seat

Long considered a likely U.S. House candidate once a seat opened up, Low is widely expected to enter the 2024 race to succeed Rep. Anna Eshoo

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Assemblymember Evan Low is considering a run for a U.S. House seat now that Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) has announced she will not seek reelection next year. (Photo Credit: Office of Assemblyman Low/Facebook)

By Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor | SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. – With the news Tuesday that Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) will retire from the South Bay House seat she has held since 1993, it provides an opportunity to see the first LGBTQ person from the Bay Area be elected to Capitol Hill.

Long considered a likely congressional candidate once a seat opened up, gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) is widely expected to enter the 2024 race to succeed Eshoo. Low, 41, told the Bay Area Reporter that he is interested in running for it but is not yet ready to make an official announcement.

“Any person who follows in her footsteps must commit themselves completely to upholding her incredible legacy. Today, I’m going to celebrate one of our valley’s greatest public servants and a personal mentor to me. There are a lot of people in the community I need to talk to before I make a formal decision,” Low, who has until early December to decide, wrote in a texted reply November 21.

Tuesday morning Eshoo released a video about her decision not to seek reelection next year in order to break the news to her constituents.

“As the first Democrat and first woman to ever represent this distinguished congressional district, no one could ever be prouder than me to carry our Democratic Party values,” Eshoo wrote in an email to her supporters.

Eshoo’s 16th Congressional District spans both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. She had first sought a House seat six years after winning election to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors but fell short in the general election of 1988 to Republican then-Stanford professor Tom Campbell.

When Campbell opted not to run for another term in 1992, and instead mounted an unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid, Eshoo ran again and won. She has long been a champion of LGBTQ issues in Congress and has enjoyed strong support from the LGBTQ community throughout her time in the House.

As the B.A.R.’s online Political Notes column reported last year, Eshoo ran her first TV ads since being elected to Congress for her 2022 candidacy. In it, she touted being an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act, the federal omnibus LGBTQ rights legislation adopted by the House in 2021. (It died when the U.S. Senate failed to vote on it.)

It is believed to be the first time a Bay Area congressmember highlighted their support of the Equality Act in a campaign commercial. In an interview Eshoo had told the B.A.R. she was proud to have that distinction.

“I have always believed there is one class of citizenship in our country and that is first class. So without the movement for equality and fullness of citizenship that can’t happen,” Eshoo had told the B.A.R. “I am very proud of that, so I wanted to highlight the Equality Act.”

Eshoo also had the honor of being the first woman to serve as chair of the Democratic Party in San Mateo County, as she noted in her email to constituents. She also served as a member of the Democratic National Committee.

“I’m so proud of all we’ve achieved together and that the strength of our party rests on a strong foundation of clubs, caucuses, and county committees with our allies in Labor and other valued advocates. Our party continues to be strengthened by our diversity, and I’m confident this will continue because it is who we are,” wrote Eshoo. “As the last year of my service in Congress lies ahead, be assured that I will continue to bring my tenaciousness and unswerving commitment to my work to strengthen our democracy, and our work together for a sweeping Democratic victory for the country we love so much.”

In a statement he released reacting to Eshoo’s news, Low called Eshoo “an icon” and a “personal hero” to him. He also praised her for being a “champion who leads this community with tremendous energy, grace, and grit.”

He added that he is looking forward “to the many ways” the community can honor Eshoo for “her extraordinary service” over the years.

“We are so blessed to have her as our leader, gracefully navigating the complex issues in this valley of high expectations,” stated Low. “Her public service has been noble and selfless, advancing quality healthcare access for all, immigration reform rooted in compassion and humanity, and stringent consumer protections unfettered by special interests.”

As the B.A.R. reported last year, Low moved into the redrawn 26th Assembly District that includes Cupertino, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and parts of San Jose in order to avoid competing against his colleague Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) for reelection to the state Legislature. Berman had been drawn into Low’s former Assembly District.

Doing so required Low to vacate the 1,100 square foot condo in Campbell that he co-owns with his brother, a San Jose police officer. He moved into the Sunnyvale home of his father and stepmother.

Low grew up in San Jose, and his parents separated when he was 18. He graduated from San Jose State University and went on to win election to the Campbell City Council in 2006.

He was the first Asian American to serve on the governing body. Four years later he became the youngest openly LGBTQ+ mayor in the country at age 26.

He first won election to the state Assembly in 2014. He has strong ties to Silicon Valley’s tech industry, which could benefit him in a House race as a source of support and financial donations to his campaign.

Low would be the second out candidate running next year for an open House seat in the Bay Area. Jennifer Kim-Anh Tran, Ph.D., a queer leader within the state’s Vietnamese American community, is seeking to succeed Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who is running for U.S. Senate rather than seek another House term.

Tran is the partner of Nenna Joiner, who owns several sex shops in the East Bay and a downtown Oakland nightlife venue. She is in a tough race to survive the March primary along with fellow Democrats BART board member Lateefah Simon and business owner Tim Sanchez, a U.S. Navy Reserves veteran who served in Afghanistan.

As the B.A.R. first reported in an online story November 17, there are now out House candidates in all three of the West Coast states. The 2024 election could thus see the California congressional delegation’s LGBTQ contingent expand from its current two gay members, while those in Oregon and Washington state could see their first out members.

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The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.

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California Politics

Sen. Laphonza Butler says she won’t run to keep U.S. Senate seat

She would have faced challenging political hurdles in a tight timeline, all while contending with her new job at a time of global crises

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California U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler (Blade Photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – Democratic U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler, who was appointed 18 days ago by California Governor Gavin Newsom to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s death, announced Thursday that she would not run for a full Senate term in 2024.

Butler said in the statement she made the decision after considering “what kind of life I want to have, what kind of service I want to offer and what kind of voice I want to bring forward.”

“Knowing you can win a campaign doesn’t always mean you should run a campaign. I know this will be a surprise to many because traditionally we don’t see those who have power let it go,” Butler added. “It may not be the decision people expected but it’s the right one for me.”

California’s 2024 senate race already has a crowded field that includes Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of Oakland, Katie Porter of Irvine and Adam B. Schiff of Burbank. Former Dodgers Major League Baseball star Steve Garvey, a Republican, also recently said he’s running.

The New York Times reported that in an interview with The Times, Butler said that she intended to be “the loudest, proudest champion of California” in the 383 days remaining in her term in office, but that she had realized “this is not the greatest use of my voice.”

The Black openly lesbian former EMILY’s List President and labor leader, Butler has never been elected to office and was appointed by Newsom helping him to fulfill his promise to name a Black woman to complete Senator Feinstein’s term.

Butler is a longtime leader in Democratic politics in California and beyond. She has been involved in campaign strategy, and the labor movement for two decades, and according to her official biography she has dedicated her life to empowering women and supporting them in finding their voice, and using it to make meaningful change.

The Associated Press noted that had she entered the race that has been underway since January, Butler would have faced challenging financial and political hurdles in a tight timeline, all while contending with her new job in Washington at a time of global crises.

Mail ballots for the March 5 primary go out in early February, meaning she would have just months to raise millions of dollars for TV advertising while building a campaign organization capable of competing in the nation’s most populous state, with about 22 million registered voters.

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California Politics

Newsom appoints Laphonza Butler to Feinstein seat

Newsom’s office confirmed that he has picked Butler, an Out Black lesbian Democratic strategist who rose to prominence in the labor movement

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EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler speaking at EMILYs List's annual We Are EMILY National Gala, May 16, 2023. (Photo Credit: EMILY’s List/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On Sunday evening, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he is appointing Black openly lesbian EMILY’s List President, Laphonza Butler, to the vacant seat of the late U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein who died Friday at age 90.

Butler’s wife is Neneki Lee, the Washington D.C.-based Director for labor union SEIU’s Public Services Division.

News of Butler’s selection by Newsom was first reported by POLITICO’s California Bureau Chief Christopher Cadelago.  A source knowledgeable on the governor’s team told POLITICO there were no preconditions about whether she could run in 2024.

Newsom’s office confirmed that he has picked Butler, a Democratic strategist who rose to prominence in the labor movement, to fill Feinstein’s seat.

In an emailed statement, Governor Newsom said:

“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she’ll represent us proudly in the United States Senate. As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault. Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.” 

Equality California tweeted a statement praising Newsom’s action:

Democrat Alex Padilla, now serving as California’s senior U.S. Senator, released the following statement after Newsom appointed Butler to fill the vacancy created by the late Senator Feinstein: 

“Throughout her career, Laphonza Butler has been a strong voice for working families, LGBTQ rights, and a champion for increasing women’s representation in politics. I’m honored to welcome her to the United States Senate.

“Governor Newsom’s swift action ensures that Californians maintain full representation in the Senate as we navigate a narrow Democratic majority. I look forward to working together to deliver for the people of California.” 

Butler is a longtime leader in Democratic politics in California and beyond. She has been involved in campaign strategy, and the labor movement for two decades, and according to her official biography she has dedicated her life to empowering women and supporting them in finding their voice, and using it to make meaningful change.

Newsom’s office noted in its statement:

“Butler, a longtime senior adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris, labor leader, and advocate for women and working people, will be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate. She will also be the first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress in American history and the second Black woman to represent California in the Senate following Vice President Kamala Harris.”

Prior to joining EMILYs List, Butler served as Director of Public Policy and Campaigns in North America for Airbnb. She also was a partner at SCRB Strategies, a political consulting firm where she was a strategist for candidates running up and down the ballot and a senior advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign.

With nearly 20 years in the labor movement, Butler has served as the president of the biggest union in California, and the nation’s largest homecare workers union, SEIU Local 2015. She was elected to this position at just 30 years old, one of the youngest to take on this role. As president, Butler was the leading voice, strategist, and architect of efforts to address pay inequity for women in California and a top advocate for raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour – the first state in the nation to do so, benefiting millions of working women in low wage jobs. That effort also gave hundreds of thousands of home workers access to paid time off. She also served as an SEIU International Vice President and President of the SEIU California State Council.

Throughout her career, Butler has been highly regarded as a strategist working to elect Democratic women candidates in political offices across California and nationally. A long-time supporter of Kamala Harris in her California runs, Butler was a key leader in Vice President Harris’s presidential campaign. She served as a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in California during the primary and general elections. Most recently, Butler was a campaign operative behind the campaign to make the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors all-women for the first time in its history with the election of Supervisor Holly Mitchell.

She has been a member of the University of California Board of Regents and a member of the board of directors for the Children’s Defense Fund and BLACK PAC.

Laphonza grew up in Magnolia, MS, and attended one of the country’s premier HBCUs, Jackson State University. She lives in Maryland with her wife, Neneki, and together they have a daughter, Nylah.

EMILY’s List is an American political action committee that aims to help elect Democratic female candidates in favor of abortion rights to office. It was founded by Ellen Malcolm in 1985. The group’s name is an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast”. Malcolm commented that “it makes the dough rise”.

Governor Gavin Newsom Appoints Laphonza Butler to the U.S. Senate:

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California Politics

State increases minimum wage, protections for fast-food workers

“California is home to more than 500,000 fast-food workers who for decades have been fighting for higher wages and better working conditions”

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Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation increasing the minimum wage for fast-food employees to $20 per hour, beginning April 1, 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

LOS ANGELES – Alongside fast-food workers, labor leaders, and legislators, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation increasing the minimum wage for fast-food employees to $20 per hour, beginning April 1, 2024.

The legislation, AB 1228 by Assemblymember Chris R. Holden (D-Pasadena), authorizes the Fast Food Council to set fast-food restaurant standards for minimum wage, and develop proposals for other working conditions, including health and safety standards and training.

“California is home to more than 500,000 fast-food workers who – for decades – have been fighting for higher wages and better working conditions. Today, we take one step closer to fairer wages, safer and healthier working conditions, and better training by giving hardworking fast-food workers a stronger voice and seat at the table,” the governor told those in the audience.

“Today, we witnessed the signing of one of the most impactful fast food wage laws that this country has ever seen,” said Assemblymember Holden. “We did not just raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour for fast food workers. We helped a father or mother feed their children, we helped a student put gas in their car, and helped a grandparent get their grandchild a birthday gift. Last month, when we were knee deep in negotiations, hundreds of workers slept in their cars and missed pay days to come give their testimony in committee and defend their livelihood. Sacrifice, dedication, and the power of a government who serves its people is what got us to this moment. My goal for AB 1228 was to bring relief and solutions where they were needed and together with my colleagues and Governor Newsom, that is what we have done. Thank you to the SEIU and all who supported this important effort. We, as a state, should be proud.”

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Beginning in April next year, California’s minimum wage for the state’s 500,000 fast-food workers will increase to $20 per hour – the average hourly wage for fast-food workers in 2022 was $16.21. Through the Fast Food Council, workers will have a stronger say in setting minimum wages and working conditions, including health and safety standards.

“After ten years of vibrant and courageous activism, which included raising the minimum wage for all workers in the state and bringing billions of dollars into working families’ pockets, fast food workers have now achieved something historic,” said David Huerta, President of SEIU California and SEIU USWW. “We extend our deepest gratitude to the Governor for his leadership in fighting poverty, empowering workers, and moving us toward a more just and equitable society.”

WHAT AB 1228 DOES

  • Repeals and replaces provisions of the statute creating the Fast Food Council within the Department of Industrial Relations, creating a process to develop minimum fast food restaurant employment standards, related to wages, working conditions, and training – upon the withdrawal of the AB 257 referendum:
    • Establishes a minimum wage of $20 per hour for fast-food workers beginning April 1, 2024 and allows the council to increase this wage annually.
    • The annual wage increase is capped at the lesser of 3.5% or the annual increase in the US-CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
  • Allows the Council to develop and propose other labor, health or safety standards for rule-making by the appropriate body.
  • Ensures consistency for a statewide industry wage by stating only the Council may set wages for fast food workers until January 1, 2029.
  • The Council and its authority sunset January 1, 2029.

“It’s time to get to work so we can bring real solutions shaped by real workers to the Fast Food Council. Today’s victory is just the beginning,” said Ingrid Vilorio, a California fast food worker and leader in the Fight for $15. “From day one of our movement, we have demanded a seat at the table so we could improve our pay and working conditions. This moment was built by every fast-food worker, both here in California and across the country, who has bravely gone on strike, exposed the issues in our industry and made bold demands of corporations that we knew could do better by their frontline workers. We now have the power to win transformational changes for every fast-food cook, cashier and barista in our state. We hope that what we win here shows workers in other industries and other states that when we fight, we win!”

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California Politics

Bonta leads 20 States in opposing Indiana anti-transgender law

The law significantly harms trans youth by denying them medically necessary care that protects their physical & psychological health

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaking this past June. (Photo Credit: Office of California Attorney General)

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a multistate coalition of 20 attorneys general in opposing a state law in Indiana that severely blocks the ability of transgender youth to access critical, lifesaving gender-affirming care.

The plaintiffs in K.C. v. Indiana are suing to block Indiana’s Senate Enacted Act (S.E.A.) 480, which prohibits healthcare professionals from providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. Today, the coalition, led by Attorney General Bonta, filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, stressing the importance of gender-affirming care for the health and well-being of transgender youth.

“Every person deserves equal and comprehensive access to medical care to lead a healthier and happier life,” said Bonta. “As we continue to witness the growing number of attacks against our LGBTQ+ community in California and across the nation, today’s legal action is a testament to our ongoing commitment to ensuring the rights of transgender youth are safeguarded and fully available. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to stand up against any action that targets and compromises the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of our most vulnerable communities.”

Many transgender teens suffer from gender dysphoria, which results from the incongruence between their gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Gender dysphoria has been found to cause severe distress and anxiety, depression, fatigue, decreased social functioning, substance misuse, and a poorer quality of life. Among transgender people, suicide attempts are nine times more common than in the overall U.S. population. Those risks are even higher among transgender youth.

Enacted in April 2023, Indiana’s S.E.A. 480 is aimed at blocking transgender minors’ access to medical treatment such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers that help treat gender dysphoria.

In their amicus brief today, the coalition supported the plaintiffs’ lawsuit seeking to block the enforcement of S.E.A. 480, arguing that the law:

  • Significantly harms the health and lives of transgender people by denying them medically necessary care that protects their physical, emotional, and psychological health.
  • Is discriminatory and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by banning medical treatment for transgender youth while permitting the same treatment for cisgender youth.

The Attorney General continues to stress an ongoing commitment to protecting the rights of transgender individuals. Last month, he announced a lawsuit to immediately halt the enforcement of the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy, which threatens to cause transgender students with mental, emotional, psychological, and potential physical harm.

In August, Bonta led a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief opposing state laws in Kentucky and Tennessee restricting transgender youths’ access to critical and lifesaving healthcare. In June, the Attorney General issued the “State of Pride Report” highlighting the California Department of Justice’s recent efforts to support, elevate, and defend the rights of LGBTQ+ communities throughout California and beyond.

In May, he led a multistate coalition in supporting a challenge to a Florida rule restricting access to gender-affirming care and joined another multistate coalition defending a Colorado law that prohibits gay and transgender conversion therapy on children and youth. In June, he joined a coalition in support of the Ludlow School Committee’s efforts to create a safe and supportive environment for transgender children and all students.

In filing today’s amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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California Politics

New laws expand access & protections for reproductive health care

“This action builds on California’s nation-leading efforts to safeguard access to reproductive health care and remain a safe haven state”

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California Governor Gavin Newsom. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom signed nine bills Wednesday – providing stronger protections for providers delivering abortion care, expanding the health care workforce, and protecting patient reproductive health care information.

In a press release a spokesperson for Newsom noted: “This action builds on California’s nation-leading efforts to safeguard access to reproductive health care and remain a safe haven state – including protecting patients, providers, and supporters; expanding access to care and services; and sharing California’s efforts and actions with other states through the Reproductive Freedom Alliance.”

The bill package signed today included:

PROTECTING PEOPLE FROM OTHER STATES’ ABORTION BANS:

  • Senate Bill 345 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D–Berkeley) improves protections for providers against the enforcement of other states’ laws that criminalize or limit reproductive and gender affirming health care services.
  • Senate Bill 487 by Senator Toni Atkins (D–San Diego) provides additional safeguards for California abortion providers to participate in the Medi-Cal program, regardless of enforcement activities in another state, if the conduct is legal under California law.
  • Assembly Bill 1707 by Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco (D–Downey) protects health care providers and facilities in California from state licensing actions against them based on the enforcement of hostile laws that restrict abortion and gender affirming care in another state.

“Radical politicians continue their all out assault on women’s health care with dangerous and deadly consequences. The right to an abortion is enshrined in California’s constitution. We will continue to protect women and health care workers who are seeking and providing basic care,” Governor Newsom stated.

PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH INFORMATION: 

  • Assembly Bill 254 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D–Orinda) protects reproductive and sexual health digital data included in personal health tracking applications.
  • Assembly Bill 352 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D–Orinda) enhances privacy protections for electronic medical records related to abortion, gender affirming care, pregnancy loss, and other sensitive services, closing a major loophole in privacy protections for people traveling to California for abortion and gender affirming care.

PROTECTING PATIENTS & PROVIDERS:

  • Assembly Bill 571 by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D–Laguna Beach) prohibits an insurer from refusing to provide malpractice insurance to a provider on the basis of them offering abortion, contraception, or gender affirming care that is lawful in California but unlawful in another state.
  • Assembly Bill 1720 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D–Orinda) clarifies that ultrasounds and similar medical imaging devices must be offered in licensed facilities or by licensed providers, protecting against unscrupulous uses.

EXPANDING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE:

  • Assembly Bill 1646 by Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen (D–Elk Grove) facilitates guest rotations in medical residency programs in California for residents who can no longer receive the proper training due to their program being in a state with restrictions or bans.
  • Signed earlier this month, Senate Bill 385 (Atkins, D – San Diego) allows physician assistants to provide abortion care, after receiving training and in compliance with protocols.

“While California has institutionalized nation-leading protections for women, birthing people, and providers, we cannot become complacent in our work to combat extremists’ outright assaults on women and our reproductive agency. I’m grateful to the Governor and the Legislature for continuing to take action to expand women’s health care and reproductive freedom and for protecting those seeking and providing care. The policies affirmed today are emblematic of California’s ongoing commitment to serve as a safe haven for those seeking reproductive care,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

A complete list of bills signed by Newsom below:

  • AB 254 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) – Confidentiality of Medical Information Act: reproductive or sexual health application information.
  • AB 352 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) – Health information.
  • AB 571 by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D–Laguna Beach) – Medical malpractice insurance.
  • AB 1646 by Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen (D–Elk Grove) – Physicians and surgeons: postgraduate training: guest rotations.
  • AB 1707 by Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco (D–Downey) – Health professionals and facilities: adverse actions based on another state’s law.
  • AB 1720 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D–Orinda) – Clinics: prenatal screening.
  • SB 345 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Health care services: legally protected health care activities.
  • SB 487 by Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) – Abortion: provider protections.

People in need of abortion care or support accessing abortion care, regardless of what state they call home, can utilize California’s nation-leading website: Abortion.CA.Gov.

Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Sen. Nancy Skinner said: “As abortions, contraception, and other essential health care continue to be criminalized across the country, California is not backing down. With Governor Newsom’s signing of these groundbreaking new bills authored by members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and sponsored by the California Future of Abortion Council, we have solidified our position as the national leader for reproductive freedom. These bills further strengthen and expand California’s legal protections for patients, doctors, nurses and everyone involved in providing and dispensing reproductive and gender-affirming care.”

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California Politics

LGBTQ+ ally Tony Thurmond announces for his bid for governor

Prior to serving as California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Thurmond served in the State Assembly

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Gavin Newsom greets Tony Thurmond during the 2018 statewide political campaigns. (Photo Credit: Tony Thurmond/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California State Superintendent of Public Instruction and long-time LGBTQ+ community ally Tony Thurmond, announced Tuesday that he is running to be the next Governor of California. 

He is running to replace incumbent Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who is term limited by state law to two four-year terms. Newsom assumed office on January 7, 2019 and his current term ends on January 4, 2027.

If elected, Thurmond would make history as California’s first Black Governor and the first Latino Governor since 1875.

Thurmond made the following announcement on X, formerly Twitter, Tuesday morning: “I didn’t come from money, power, or influence. I’m running for Governor to be a voice for those who need one — because California may be working for millionaires and billionaires but for the rest of California — we need real change.”

“California should be a place where everyone has a chance to succeed, no matter who you are or where you’re from, and together, we can make that a reality,” he said in his announcement video. 

In addition to his commitment to improving opportunities for all Californians, stabilizing the housing market, and contributing to ending homelessness, Thurmond has shown his continued support for children in LGBTQ+ community.

With several school districts across California passing mandatory outing policies and rules targeting the safety of LGBTQ+ students, Thurmond told The Blade in an interview last week that he has and will continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ children. 

“My position on these actions is that they are misinformed and misguided. They are a blatant attack on LGBTQ+ kids. These are bigoted efforts to harm a group of students…This is purely a bigoted action by extremists, whose real effort is to bring harm upon LGBTQ plus students, and I will not stand for that,” he said.

Thurmond told the Blade about his involvement in creating policies that allowed for safe and gender-inclusive bathrooms in the Chino Hills school district. He also mentioned two bills that he supports: 

SB 760, sponsored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton). The bill would require the all-gender restroom to meet certain requirements, including, among other things, that it has signage identifying the bathroom facility as being open to all genders and is unlocked, unobstructed, and easily accessible by any pupil.

The Superintendent also supported AB 1078, sponsored by Assemblymember Dr. Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley), which bans “book bans” in schools, prohibits censorship of instructional materials, and strengthens California law requiring schools to provide all students access to textbooks that teach about California’s diverse communities.

“From Temecula to Tallahassee, fringe ideologues across the country are attempting to whitewash history and ban books from schools. With this new law, we’re cementing California’s role as the true freedom state: a place where families — not political fanatics — have the freedom to decide what’s right for them,” Governor Gavin Newsom said as he signed the bill last Friday.

“We have an opportunity now to say that every person can be treated with love and respect and dignity, regardless of who they are and how they see themselves and who they love,” said Thurmond.  

“Many times, young people are not in a space where they can talk about how they identify in terms of their gender identities. It is our responsibility to get them resources and to help them, not to attack them. I sponsored legislation to provide more resources and training, and teachings to be able to support students and our LGBTQ+ students. The data shows that when we do this work, we support our LGBTQ+ people, they do better at school. They have better self-esteem and better grades. They are less likely to feel suicidal.”

Thurmond has been elected statewide in the nation’s most populous state twice, in 2018 and most recently in 2022, when he earned 63.7% and 5,681,318 votes.

Prior to serving as California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Thurmond served in the State Assembly and before then on the Richmond City Council and the West Contra Costa School Board. Beyond his service in public office, Thurmond is a public school parent, a former social worker, and a public educator.

“I am grateful that my last 15 years of elective service have all centered around some form of education, formally or informally,” said Thurmond. “I do think education is a great equalizer. It has been for me. I want this to be available to all six million students who are interested to our school system in California.”

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California Politics

Newsom signs LGBTQ+ protections but vetoes trans youth bill

“These measures will help protect vulnerable youth, promote acceptance, & create more supportive environments in our schools and communities”

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California Governor Gavin Newsom at a 2022 Pride event at the Governor's mansion in Sacramento. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom signed several pieces of legislation on Saturday extending protection to the Golden State’s LGBTQ+ community with the exception of a bill he vetoed Friday that would have required courts to consider whether a parent affirms their child’s gender identity when making custody and visitation decisions.

 “California is proud to have some of the most robust laws in the nation when it comes to protecting and supporting our LGBTQ+ community, and we’re committed to the ongoing work to create safer, more inclusive spaces for all Californians,” said Governor Newsom. “These measures will help protect vulnerable youth, promote acceptance, and create more supportive environments in our schools and communities. I thank Senator Eggman and the LGBTQ Caucus for their dedicated leadership and partnership in advancing our state’s values of equality, freedom and acceptance.” 

Among the nine bills signed into law were:

AB 5- The Safe and Supportive Schools Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Los Angeles). This bill sets implementation timelines for required LGBTQ+ cultural competency training by public school teachers and staff.

AB 223- Change of gender and sex identifier, sponsored by Assemblymember Christopher Ward (D-San Diego).

Existing law authorizes a person to file a petition with the superior court seeking a judgment recognizing their change of gender to female, male, or nonbinary, including a person who is under 18 years of age. Existing law authorizes a person to file a single petition to simultaneously change the petitioner’s name and recognize the change to the petitioner’s gender and sex identifier, as specified.

This bill would require any petition for a change of gender and sex identifier or a petition for change of gender, sex identifier, and name filed by a person under 18 years of age, and any papers associated with the proceeding, to be kept confidential by the court. The bill would require the court to limit access to these records to specified individuals, including, among others, the minor, the minor’s parents, and their attorneys.

AB 760– Public postsecondary education: affirmed name and gender identification, sponsored by Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Fairfield).

Commencing with the 2023–24 graduating class, existing law prohibits an institution from requiring a graduating student to provide legal documentation sufficient to demonstrate a legal name or gender change in order to have the student’s chosen name listed on the student’s diploma.

This bill, commencing with the 2023–24 graduating class, instead would prohibit an institution from requiring a graduating student to provide legal documentation sufficient to demonstrate a legal name or gender change in order to have the student’s chosen name be the sole name listed on the student’s diploma. The bill would authorize an institution to use a student’s gender or legal name as indicated in a government-issued identification document only if it is necessary to meet a legally mandated obligation, but would otherwise require the institution to identify the student in accordance with the student’s gender identity and affirmed name, as provided. To the extent that this requirement would impose a new duty on community colleges, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

AB 783– Business licenses: single-user restrooms, sponsored by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco). Requires cities, counties, and cities and counties to notify applicants for a business license or permit in writing of the requirement that single-user toilet facilities must be identified as all-gender toilet facilities.

AB 994– Law enforcement: social media, sponsored by Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley). With respect to an individual who has been arrested for any crime, this bill would require a police department or sheriff’s office, upon posting a booking photo on social media, to use the name and pronouns given by the individual arrested. The bill would authorize a police department or sheriff’s office to use other legal names or known aliases of an individual in limited specified circumstances.

This bill would also require that a police department or sheriff’s office remove any booking photo shared on social media after 14 days unless specified circumstances exist. Because the bill would impose higher duties on local law enforcement, it would impose a state-mandated local program.

SB 372 – Department of Consumer Affairs: licensee and registrant records: name and gender changes, sponsored by Senator Caroline Menjivar (D-San Fernando Valley/Burbank). The bill would prohibit a board from publishing information relating to the licensee’s or registrant’s former name or gender online. Instead, the bill would require the board to post an online statement directing the public to contact the board for more information. For specified licensees or registrants, the board would be prohibited from posting enforcement records online, but would be required to direct post an online statement stating that the individual was previously subject to an enforcement action and directing the public to contact the board, as prescribed. The bill would provide that all records related to a request to update an individual’s license or registration under these provisions are confidential and not subject to public inspection or disclosure.

SB 407 – Foster care: resource families, sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). Existing law generally provides for the placement of foster youth in various placement settings. Existing law provides for the implementation of the resource family approval process and defines a resource family as an individual or family who has successfully met both the home environment assessment standards and permanency assessment criteria, as specified, necessary for providing care for a child placed by a public or private child placement agency by court order, or voluntarily placed by a parent or legal guardian. Under existing law, the resource family permanency standards include a family evaluation, including, but not limited to, interviews of an applicant, as specified, and a risk assessment.

This bill would require a resource family to demonstrate the capacity an ability and willingness to meet the needs of a child, regardless of the child’s sexual orientation or orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, as specified.

SB 760 – School facilities: all-gender restrooms, sponsored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton). The bill would require the all-gender restroom to meet certain requirements, including, among other things, that it has signage identifying the bathroom facility as being open to all genders and is unlocked, unobstructed, and easily accessible by any pupil.

SB 857 – Advisory task force: LGBTQ+ pupil needs, sponsored by Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). This bill will establish an advisory task force to identify LGBTQ+ pupil needs statewide and assist in implementing supportive initiatives.

“This year the LGBTQ Caucus took up the important work of protecting our communities in the face of vile anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, discriminatory laws across the country, and hatred. I appreciate the Governor’s partnership in signing some of our priority and endorsed legislation today, and hope we can continue to educate about the harm LGBTQ+ people will continue to face if we fail to act,” said Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. 

“While states across the nation are passing legislation that puts LGBTQ+ people and especially youth at risk, California is sending a clear message today — hate-filled attacks will not be tolerated and we will continue protecting and ensuring the safety of all members of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “We are thankful to our legislative partners for championing these important bills and to Governor Newsom for continuing to be such a strong ally in improving and protecting the wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community as we face growing attacks from far-right extremists.”

Assemblywoman LORI D. WILSON (D -Fairfield). (Photo Credit: Calif. State Assembly)

On Friday, Newsom vetoed AB 957 would have updated California law to clarify that, for the purposes of child custody and visitation decisions, a parent’s affirmation of a child’s gender identity or gender expression is an essential factor that must be considered in determining the best interest of the child by a judge.

That legislation had been sponsored by Assemblymember Lori Wilson, a Democrat who introduced the bill and has an adult son who came out as transgender when he was a teenager, criticized the governor’s decision.

“I’ve been disheartened over the last few years as I watched the rising hate and heard the vitriol toward the trans community. My intent with this bill was to give them a voice, particularly in the family court system where a non-affirming parent could have a detrimental impact on the mental health and well-being of a child,” Wilson said in a statement.

“We are disappointed and disheartened by Governor Newsom’s decision to veto AB 957, which would have helped to ensure that the unique needs of transgender and gender non-conforming youth are explicitly considered in child custody and visitation decisions,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang.

“At a time where LGBTQ+ youth, specifically trans youth are facing higher rates of depression and suicide, reassurance and protection from our state is in dire need. Anti-LGBTQ+ extremists targeted this modest and straightforward legislation as part of their coordinated attacks on trans youth in California, and the failure to enact this bill bolsters their dangerous efforts. We are grateful to Assemblymember Lori Wilson for her unwavering commitment to the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming young people. Despite this setback, we will continue working with the Legislature and Governor Newsom to to protect the rights and dignity of the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

In his veto message, the governor explained:

“I appreciate the passion and values that led the author to introduce this bill. I share a deep commitment to advancing the rights of transgender Californians, an effort that has guided my decisions through many decades in public office.
That said, I urge caution when the Executive and Legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate – in prescriptive terms that single out one characteristic – legal standards for the Judicial branch to apply. Other-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities.”

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Governor Newsom to decide on ending pro-LGBTQ state travel ban

The state would be following San Francisco in doing so, as city leaders this spring ended their similar travel restriction

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Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) with Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. (Photo Credit: Office of State Sen. Toni Atkins/Facebook)

By Matthew S. Bajko | SACRAMENTO – Ending California’s ban on publicly funded travel to states with anti-LGBTQ laws is now in the hands of Governor Gavin Newsom after lawmakers this week sent him a bill to do away with the policy.

The state would be following San Francisco in doing so, as city leaders this spring ended their similar travel restriction.

Legislators first enacted the statewide travel ban policy in 2016 with the hope of seeing their counterparts in other states think twice about adopting LGBTQ discriminatory laws. Under the ban, no taxpayer money is to be used to cover non-emergency travel by state employees, as well as faculty, students, and sports teams at state colleges, to those states that have enacted anti-LGBTQ laws since 2015.

Yet, since its implementation, the travel ban has grown to cover 26 states. The restriction on traveling to Nebraska, added to the list this summer, is set to take effect on October 1.

Citing the lack of impact the travel ban has had in halting other legislatures from passing anti-LGBTQ laws, lesbian outgoing Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) introduced this year Senate Bill 447 called the BRIDGE Act, which stands for Building and Reinforcing Inclusive, Diverse, Gender-Supportive Equality. It aims to replace the so-called no-fly list with a privately funded pro-LGBTQ marketing effort in the states on it.

San Francisco officials similarly cited continued passage of anti-LGBTQ laws by other states for ending their local travel ban policy, which also covered states that restricted abortion and voting access. They also cited the policy having a negative fiscal impact on the city in higher contracting costs since the policy prohibited city agencies from doing business with companies headquartered in the states covered by the ban.

To press the case for rescinding the state’s travel ban, Atkins created a dedicated website at sd39.senate.ca.gov/sb447 for her SB 447. A broad coalition of LGBTQ groups and leaders had expressed support for doing away with the travel ban, arguing the policy also hampered the ability of LGBTQ advocates to be on the ground in the covered states arguing on behalf of LGBTQ rights.

“As attacks on the LGBTQ+ Community across the country grow, building bridges to change hearts and minds in these communities is now more important than ever,” wrote gay Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Santa Monica/West Hollywood) on X (formerly Twitter), who had advocated for implementation of the travel ban in his former capacity as executive director of statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality California.

Meanwhile, gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino), who wrote the initial legislation establishing the state’s travel ban, had expressed misgivings about ending it. He was one of four members of his chamber who abstained Monday from voting on SB 447, when the bill passed out of the Assembly by a 64-12 vote.

Because Atkins had amended it to include an urgency clause so SB 447 would take effect immediately if signed into law by Newsom, the Senate had to vote on it again Tuesday. It passed out of the chamber 31-6 with three abstentions.

“I remember what it was like to grow up in a time and place where conversations about someone being gay or lesbian only happened in whispers,” stated Atkins. “While years have passed since then, there are still areas of our country where the LGBTQ+ community — and especially our LGBTQ+ youth — feel isolated and fearful for their safety. The BRIDGE Project would be a conduit of hope and compassion, and encourage others to open their hearts and minds to be more accepting and inclusive. It’s within all of us to be that light.”

Newsom, who has faced criticism in the past for making personal trips to states on the banned list, has until October 14 to either sign SB 447 into law or veto it.

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The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

California lawmakers send bill barring school book bans to Newsom

The bill had passed the Assembly in May after the Temecula Valley Unified School District voted to reject a book that included LGBTQ+ topics

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The dome of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – A bill that would effectively halt efforts by school districts in California to ban text books and curriculum related to LGBTQ+ subject matter, including queer history, gender and racial diversity is now headed to the desk of California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Assembly Bill 1078 passed in the state Senate last week, and the governor already has indicated he will sign it as soon as he receives the legislation.

In a statement released on Thursday, September 7, Newsom said: “California is the true freedom state: a place where families — not political fanatics — have the freedom to decide what’s right for them. With the passage of legislation to ban book bans & ensure all students have textbooks, our state’s Family Agenda is now even stronger.”

The bill had passed overwhelmingly in the Assembly in May after the Temecula Valley Unified School District Board  voted to reject inclusion of a book that included mention of slain former openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk and LGBTQ+ topics.

Board Member Jennifer Wiersma, one of the three who is backed by the Inland Empire Family Pac, a far-right group that opposes LGBTQ+ rights, transparent sexual education curriculum, and so-called ‘Critical Race Theory’ although that material is not taught in K-12 schools anywhere in the United States argued:

“I don’t want my 3rd grader studying an LGBTQ issue. I don’t want them going into gender ideology.” Wiersma, supported by the other two conservatives, Danny Gonzalez and Dr. Joseph Komrosky, signaled that they were also opposed to any curriculum that included lessons or information about former openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk.

School Board Dr. Joseph Komrosky referred to Milk as a pedophile, “My question is, why even mention a pedophile?” Komrosky said during a May meeting drawing the ire of Gov. Newsom who tweeted: “An offensive statement from an ignorant person. This isn’t Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our kids have the freedom to learn. Congrats Mr. Komrosky you have our attention. Stay tuned.”

Komrosky and the School District Board the defied a letter warning that that the state would take action. Newsom, joined by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, and Assemblymember Dr. Corey Jackson announced the state would begin the process of securing textbooks for students in the Temecula Valley Unified School District and enact legislation, Assembly Bill 1078, to fine school districts for failure to provide adequate instructional materials.

“The three political activists on the school board have yet again proven they are more interested in breaking the law than doing their jobs of educating students — so the state will do their job for them,” the governor said.

AB 1078, sponsored by Assemblyman Jackson would financially penalize school boards that enact bans on books and education material related to Black, Latino, Asian, Native American and LGBTQ topics, provided they are part of an approved school curriculum.

“We’re taking a firm stand against book banning in California’s schools, ensuring that our students have access to a broad range of educational materials that accurately represent the rich cultural and racial diversity of our society,” Jackson said.

 “AB 1078 will strengthen existing laws to ensure that local school districts provide students with accurate and inclusive instructional materials,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Accurate and inclusive education is essential to ensure the educational success of all California students, including LGBTQ+ students and Black, Indigenous, and other students of color. By seeing themselves reflected, LGBTQ+ students are validated, building stronger academic and social success opportunities.”

Then in July, after oft times contentious, acrimonious and emotional public comments as both sides presented arguments in favor or against California’s new elementary level social studies book and curriculum previously rejected twice, the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s board relented and voted unanimously to adopt it.

Curriculum that deals with LGBTQ+ history is mandated under California’s FAIR Education Act, which was signed into law on July 14, 2011, and went into effect on January 1, 2012. It amends the California Education Code to include the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful reference to contributions by people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community in history and social studies curriculum.

Conservative school board majorities and some parents argue that curriculum that deals LGBTQ topics to Critical race theory are either not age-appropriate for younger students, radical or, in some cases, are framed asanti-American.

“We’re not having the conversation at the core of the issue, which is age-appropriate materials,” Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) told The Sacramento Bee.

Conservatives on social media platforms are also expressing their outrage:

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