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California Politics

Trans candidate endorsed for state senate by EQ California & Victory Fund

“A victory for Lisa will shatter a long-standing political barrier in California and will be a milestone moment for the state”

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Lisa Middleton (Blade file photo by Karen Ocamb)

PALM SPRINGS –  Equality California and LGBTQ Victory Fund jointly announced their endorsements of Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton in her race for California Senate District 28 Thursday.

The endorsements demonstrate an early commitment from the LGBTQ political community to elect Middleton, who would be the first out transgender state legislator in California history. In 2017, Middleton became the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial position in California, when she won her race for Palm Springs City Council.

Only eight out transgender people have ever been elected to state legislatures in the United States. All are currently serving.

“Lisa Middleton is an accomplished leader who has made her region more inclusive, just and equitable,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “That’s why Equality California is thrilled to announce our early support for Lisa’s campaign for Senate. The 28th District needs Lisa’s courage, innovative thinking and unique ability to build coalitions in Sacramento, where she will be a trailblazing champion for full, lived equality while delivering critical resources to her community. We’re with Lisa 100 percent and look forward to helping her make history once again as California’s first transgender state legislator.”

“A victory for Lisa will shatter a long-standing political barrier in California and will be a milestone moment for the state and the country,” said Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “Yet Lisa is not running for state senate to be a trailblazer. She is a passionate public servant who brings solutions-oriented optimism to challenges big and small – from filling potholes to healthcare access to climate change. Her constituents’ quality of life will always be the priority, but Lisa’s election will also inspire a new generation of trans leaders to follow in her footsteps.”

“I am deeply humbled and thrilled to receive the joint endorsements of Equality California and LGBTQ Victory Fund,” said Lisa Middleton. “Since launching my bid for State Senate, the profound, extensive support I’ve received from the LGBTQ community has been a tremendous honor and boost to my campaign. I remain committed to being a leader who helps to unify and proudly stands for respect, inclusion and opportunity and that my campaign can also show the transgender community that nothing is out of reach, and we can win at all levels of government. I look forward to hopefully partnering with both incredible organizations in Sacramento to continue being an unrelenting advocate for our community and fighting for full, lived equality.”

As Mayor Pro Tem and a member of the Palm Springs City Council, Middleton ensured PPE and vaccines were available to residents, led efforts on solar requirements for all new homes and worked to address inequities in the city – including the unique challenges LGBTQ+ seniors face.

Middleton’s primary will be held on June 7, 2022.

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California Politics

Senator Wiener’s No Tax Exemption for Insurrection Act, passes Senate

Senate Bill SB 834 strips state tax-exempt status from organizations that engage in or incite insurrection

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Screenshot/California Legislative TV

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s Senate Bill 834, the No Tax Exemption for Insurrection Act, passed the Senate by a vote of 28-0 Monday. It will now head to the Assembly for policy committee hearings. 

SB 834 is a first-in-the-nation bill that will revoke the California tax-exempt status of nonprofit organizations that participate in or incite efforts to overthrow the United States government or any state government. Nonprofit organizations have used the “Big Lie” – the fraudulent notion that the 2020 election was stolen – to fundraise for and funnel money to extremist and anti-democratic initiatives like the January 6 insurrection.

Tax-exempt status is a privilege, not a right, and organizations that engage in or incite insurrection or conspiracy to commit insurrection – both of which are illegal – should not be given this special status to help them fundraise. Moreover, non-California nonprofits should not be able to register to raise money in California if they are engaging in or inciting insurrection. 

“On January 6, 2021, the peaceful transfer of power in our democracy was threatened,” said Wiener. “And for the first time since the Civil War, people died as a result. We cannot and will not let organizations that aid and abet insurrection – that break the law by trying to overthrow the U.S. government – operate with tax-exempt status. The people of California should not be subsidizing insurrection.” 

The January 6, 2021 insurrection took place, when pro-Trump extremists – in response to the false narrative that the Democrats “stole” the 2020 election and incited by then-President Donald Trump – breached the United States Capitol. Five people were killed as a result of this insurrection, and hundreds were injured.

Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi were specific targets of this violent attack on the nation’s democracy. Many nonprofits that supported the insurrection and continue to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election in hopes of overturning the results still operate with tax-exempt status, both at the federal and state level. 

SB 834 clarifies the Franchise Tax Board’s authority to revoke the California tax-exempt status of a nonprofit organization if the California Attorney General determines that the nonprofit has actively engaged in, or incited: treason, misprision of treason, insurrection, seditious conspiracy, advocating overthrow of the government or the government of any State, or advocating mutiny by members of the military or naval forces of the United States (1.)

Under SB 834, if the Attorney General finds that a nonprofit organization has incited, or actively engaged in actions that are directed to or likely to imminently violate one or more of these crimes, they will notify the FTB, which then will have the ability to revoke the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status. 

For out-of-state nonprofits that engage in or incite insurrection, they will be prohibited from registering to raise money in California. 

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the purpose of charitable organizations claiming tax-exempt status “may not be illegal or contrary to public policy.” Trying to overturn elections and violently attacking our legislators fits the bill. SB 834 will ensure that these organizations no longer claim this financial advantage. 

Tax-exempt nonprofits are not required to pay corporate income taxes and may be exempt from other taxes as well. Additionally, donations to many nonprofits are deductible from income taxes, and private foundations and donor-advised funds can only donate to tax-exempt nonprofits. Private foundations and donor-advised funds represent a major funding source for many nonprofits. 

Authoritarian and anti-democratic organizations have increasingly used the “Big Lie” to fundraise, and this narrative has driven millions of dollars in tax-exempt donations. And many new organizations have cropped up in the past year, hoping to ride the coattails of the insurrection and cash in.

These include California nonprofits and nonprofits registered in other states that fundraise in California. These organizations, which are fundamentally undermining our democracy and cheering for the destruction of free and fair elections in America, should not be allowed to operate with advantages like tax-exempt status. 

For example, the leader of the “Oath Keepers,” a national militia movement, was charged with seditious conspiracy. While the Oath Keepers does not have California tax-exempt status, it has an “educational foundation” with federal exempt status and tax-exempt branches in several states. In the words of one expert, “It can only be presumed that [funds contributed to the Oath Keepers], which [donors were] able to deduct from their federal taxes, went to transporting and lodging members of the group slated to participate in the ensuing riots.” (2.) These organizations should not be allowed, under any circumstances, to use tax write-offs to help fund illegal activities. 

There is precedent for making this distinction in California’s tax code. Under federal and California law, for instance, if a nonprofit organization supports terrorism, its tax-exempt status is suspended. The nonprofit organizations that support insurrection should receive the same treatment. 

Citations:

1. USC §§ 2381-2385, 2387

2. “Dollars against Democracy: Domestic Terrorist Financing in the Aftermath of Insurrection,” Virtual Hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy of the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Feb 25, 2021. 

Senators Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), Dave Min (D-Irvine), Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Tom Umberg (D-Orange County), and Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) are co-authors of this bill. Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) are also co-authors of SB 836. Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) is principal co-author.

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California Politics

Assembly passes bill protects patients & providers from anti-choice states

AB 1666 protects patients and providers in California from civil liability judgments for providing reproductive health care to patients

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California State Capitol Dome (Blade file photo)


SACRAMENTO — In a two-thirds vote Monday, the Assembly passed AB 1666, sponsored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D – Orinda) which creates a legal shield up for California patients and providers from extremist anti-abortion laws from anti-choice states.

The language of the measure reads: “This bill would declare another state’s law authorizing a civil action against a person or entity that receives or seeks, performs or induces, or aids or abets the performance of an abortion, or who attempts or intends to engage in those actions, to be contrary to the public policy of this state. The bill would prohibit the application of that law to a case or controversy heard in state court, and would prohibit the enforcement or satisfaction of a civil judgment received under that law.”

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California Legislative Director Molly Robson told the Blade in an emailed statement Monday;

“AB 1666 will allow California providers to continue to provide essential and timely health care, like abortion, with decreased risks of potential liability when helping people forced to seek care here in California rather than in their home state due to hostile, extreme, and dangerous restrictions or outright bans. These precautions and protections are necessary given the increased hostility and frequency of abortion bans in other states seeking to target patients and providers. Taking this action now is crucial as we prepare for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade and unleash a flood of hostile bans in more than half the states.”

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California also noted that AB 1666 protects patients and providers in California from civil liability judgments for providing reproductive health care to patients when the claims are based on laws in other states that are hostile to abortion rights and are contrary to the public policy of California.

AB 1666 builds on a recommendation put forth by the California Future of Abortion Council recommendations released in a December report, in which Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California is a member of its “Steering Committee.”

A spokesperson for Equality California, Jorge Reyes Salinas, told the Blade Monday afternoon;

“LGBTQ+ people are directly impacted by laws that undermine abortion care. The LGBTQ+ community overall often lacks access to inclusive and affirming health care, and in particular transgender men and nonbinary people who become pregnant face significant challenges when seeking reproductive care.  In addition, many of the clinics that provide abortions also provide hormones and reduced-cost reproductive care for transgender and nonbinary people, efforts to undermine these clinics directly harm the LGBTQ+ community.

AB 1666 is a critical safeguard against the wave of proposals that will harm the health and well-being of vulnerable populations across the country. To the extent that California can provide a refuge for people seeking critical care, we have a duty to do so.”

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California Politics

Thousands gather for ‘Bans Off Our Bodies Rally’ in DTLA

Angelenos joined the hundreds of thousands of Americans- women, men, kids- Black, Latino Asian, LGBTQ+ marching across the nation Saturday

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U.S. Senator Alex Padilla addresses 'Bans Off Our Bodies Rally' (Photo by Samuel Garrett-Pate)

LOS ANGELES – Several thousand Angelenos joined the hundreds of thousands of Americans including women, men, kids- Black, Latino Asian, LGBTQ+ marching across the nation Saturday to protest the potential overturn of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision after the leak of the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion.

Screenshot/KCBS 2 Los Angeles

The crowds were joined by politicians and dignitaries including U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who gave a speech to the rally, LA Mayoral candidate Congresswoman Karen Bass, (D-37), California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the First Partner and wife to California Governor Gavin Newsom, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Tony Hoang, the Executive Director of Equality California and the President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Alexis McGill Johnson, Commissioner Ricardo Lara, & Senator Alex Padilla
(Photo by Samuel Garrett-Pate)

In his speech Padilla delivered remarks on the importance of defending access to safe, legal abortion at the federal level.

The “Bans Off Our Bodies” was a daylong event organized by groups including Women’s March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, UltraViolet, MoveOn, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Rights Action League.

From Pittsburgh to Pasadena, California, and Nashville, Tennessee, to Lubbock, Texas, tens of thousands participated in “Bans off our Bodies” events. Organizers expected that among the hundreds of events, the largest would take place in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other big cities, the Associated Press reported.

LA Mayoral candidate Congresswoman Karen Bass, (D-37) (Photo by Samuel Garrett-Pate)

“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, said before the march.

Saturday’s rallies come three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade. Sponsors included the Women’s March, Move On, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, SEIU and other organizations.

Tony Hoang, the Executive Director of Equality California & Senator Alex Padilla
(Photo by Samuel Garrett-Pate)

At the Chicago rally, speaker after speaker told the crowd that if abortion is banned that the rights of immigrants, minorities and others will also be “gutted,” as Amy Eshleman, wife of Out Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put it, the Associated Press noted.

“This has never been just about abortion. It’s about control,” Eshleman told the crowd of thousands. “My marriage is on the menu and we cannot and will not let that happen,” she added.

Thousands gather in DTLA to protest potential overturn of Roe v. Wade:

KTLA event report:

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