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California Politics

Lawmakers send 10 LGBTQ sponsored bills to Governor Newsom

The legislation was all sponsored by the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization Equality California

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California Capitol (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – California Legislators on Thursday sent 10 LGBTQ related bills to Governor Newsom for his signature to become law. In the final days of the California Legislature’s 2022 session, which ended Wednesday night, state lawmakers sent one of the largest LGBTQ+ legislative packages to date.

The legislation, all sponsored by the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, Equality California, would help advance transgender equality and health, protect diverse LGBTQ+ families, safeguard reproductive freedom and ensure public documents reflect the identities of transgender and nonbinary Californians.

Earlier this year, Newsom signed AB 1666 (Bauer-Kahan), which protects people seeking abortion care in California, and SB 357 (Wiener), which repealed the state’s discriminatory loitering law and helped prevent police profiling and harassment of trans people and women of color.

Equality California also led a successful push to secure key funding to improve school climate for LGBTQ+ students and worked to bolster state and county health agencies’ response to the MPV (monkeypox virus) health crisis — requests championed by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), respectively.

“While far right politicians in Texas and Florida were attacking trans kids and criminalizing abortion, California’s pro-equality Legislature has been hard at work advancing full, lived LGBTQ+ equality and protecting reproductive freedom,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “From improving healthcare for the trans community and ensuring public records reflect LGBTQ+ people’s identities to providing refuge to trans kids and their families and people seeking abortion care, we and our legislative partners have sent an incredible package of pro-equality legislation to Governor Newsom’s desk. We look forward to the governor signing these bills and sending a clear message to LGBTQ+ people everywhere that California will always stand up for freedom and justice for all — until the work is done.”

The package of pro-equality legislation includes:

SB 107 (Wiener): Refuge for Transgender Youth and Their Families

SB 107 is a response to anti-trans laws of other states and will help to ensure that transgender youth and their families who come to California in pursuit of gender affirming care and an authentic life are protected in that endeavor.

SB 923 (Wiener): TGI Inclusive Care Act

This legislation will help to create a healthcare system that meets the needs of TGI people and will make it easier for TGI people to find life-saving gender-affirming services.

SB 1234 (Pan): STI Prevention & Treatment Fairness Act

This legislation will expand access to STI services for income-eligible patients who have confidentiality concerns, including LGBTQ+ patients, through the Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (FPACT) program, subject to funding from state and federal sources.

AB 1041 (Wicks): Leave for Chosen Families

This legislation will make access to job protected family caregiving and sick leave more equitable for all of California’s working families, including LGBTQ+ workers with chosen families.

AB 2091 (Bonta): Reproductive Health and Privacy

This legislation will protect the private medical information of people in California who are targeted by other states’ laws that interfere with a person’s right to obtain an abortion.

AB 2194 (Ward): Training for Pharmacists

This legislation will strengthen implementation of SB 159 (Wiener 2019) and reduce barriers to care for LGBTQ+ people by equipping pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to provide LGBTQ+ culturally competent services and care.

AB 2315 (Arambula): Minimizing Deadnaming in CCC Systems

This legislation will require Community College Districts to implement processes by which students, staff, and faculty can declare and use an affirmed name and/or gender on academic records.

AB 2417 (Ting): Youth Bill of Rights

This legislation will ensure that incarcerated youth – a disproportionate number of whom are LGBTQ+ – have easier access to information regarding their existing rights under state and federal law.

AB 2436 (Bauer-Kahan): Death Certificates

This legislation will make parental fields on death certificates gender inclusive, which will help LGBTQ+ parents navigate estate proceedings and other matters following the death of a child.

SB 1194 (Allen): All Gender Restrooms

SB 1194 authorizes localities to require that new public restrooms be designed for all genders, as specified.

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California Politics

Effort to put measure limiting trans youth’s rights on Calif. ballot fails

The group claimed it had gathered more than 400,000 signatures, falling short of the requisite threshold number for inclusion on the ballot

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Protect Kids California CEO & Roseville school board member Jonathan Zachreson, (right) with anti-LGBTQ+ Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and an unnamed delegate at the California GOP convention in Anaheim on Sept. 29, 2023. (Photo Credit: Zachreson/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO – The effort by the anti-LGBTQ+ conservative group Protect Kids California, headed by Roseville school board member Jonathan Zachreson, to collect some 550,000 valid signatures to place a transphobic trans youth proposal on the November 5 ballot has failed.

In a press release on Tuesday, the deadline set by the California secretary of state, the group claimed it had gathered more than 400,000 signatures, falling short of the requisite threshold number for inclusion on the ballot.

Protect Kids California submitted the proposed ballot initiative—presented as the “Protect Kids of California Act of 2024,” last September. The proposed ballot initiative would have:

  • Forced outing of transgender youth to their parents, ensuring that trans kids cannot have safety or privacy in schools if they are not ready to come out to family. Often these policies also include violations of privacy for the student when they discuss their gender identity with school counselors.
  • Banning of transgender youth from sports that match their gender identity, stigmatizing them and often forcing them out of sports altogether. Notably, these provisions typically fail to differentiate between high-stakes elite competitions and casual middle school teams. They also generally don’t provide for pathways to participation like hormone therapy, a method that has been researched and employed to address concerns of potential “unfair advantages” in competitions. California, which allows youth to access gender affirming care, will have youth who never underwent the puberty of their assigned sex at birth who would also be banned under this provision.
  • Banning gender affirming care for trans youth shown to be lifesaving. Gender affirming care is associated with a 73% reduction in suicidality and over 50 studies assembled by Cornell University show its benefits. California is one of several states that has recently moved to protect transgender youth and their medical care, and such a restriction would impact a large number of transgender kids in the state.

“We are relieved that anti-LGBTQ+ extremists have failed to reach the required signature threshold to qualify their anti-transgender ballot initiatives to the November 2024 ballot. Equality California will continue to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ youth everywhere, and push back against any and all efforts by extremist groups who seek to discriminate against them,” said Tony Hoang Equality California Executive Director. “To every LGBTQ+ youth in California: know that you are loved and valued.”

A coalition of leading LGBTQ+ and allied organizations including Equality California, TransFamily Support Services, The TransLatin@ Coalition, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, ACLU California Action, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gender Justice LA, California TRANScends, Tranz of Anarchii Inc. issued the following statement in response to the failure of anti-LGBTQ+ extremists to qualify an anti-transgender initiative for the 2024 California General Election ballot:

“We are relieved that this dangerous initiative did not meet the required signature threshold to appear on the ballot.

This extremist proposal sought to ban essential healthcare for transgender youth, forcibly out transgender students without consent or regard for their safety, and ban transgender youth from accessing school facilities or playing sports that correspond with their gender identity.

Still, we know that this fight isn’t over. A handful of school districts across the state have already implemented their own harmful policies targeting LGBTQ+ youth, and we are grateful to California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the California Department of Education for challenging the discriminatory actions of such districts in court. We are also proudly supporting the SAFETY Act (AB 1955), by Assemblymember Chris Ward and the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, which will protect transgender students across California from harmful forced outing policies and provide them and their families with the resources and support they actually need to thrive.

We will never stop fighting for LGBTQ+ youth to be their authentic selves, feel protected and to be safe.” 

The anti-LGBTQ+ group placed partial blame for the failure on California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who the group had sued over the title and summary he assigned to its ballot measure that would strip rights from transgender minors.

The Bay Area Reporter noted the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit February 13 in Sacramento County Superior Court on behalf of Protect Kids California that alleged Bonta’s personal beliefs led to a biased title and summary. Therefore, the center contended the ballot measure proponents should be given 180 additional days for signature gathering without discounting signatures already collected.

“Respondent [Bonta] has demonstrated that he personally, and in his official capacity, is opposed to any kind of notification by a public school to a parent or guardian that his or her child is exhibiting signs of gender dysphoria when the child asks the school to publicly treat him or her as the opposite sex with a new name or pronouns, and to allow the child to use the sex-segregated facilities of the opposite sex,” claimed the groups in their lawsuit.

But a Sacramento Superior Court judge sided with Bonta in a ruling that was first issued tentatively April 19 and was made final April 22. Judge Stephen Acquisto ruled that Bonta’s title and summary are accurate.

“Under current law, minor students have express statutory rights with respect to their gender identity,” Acquisto stated. “A substantial portion of the proposed measure is dedicated to eliminating or restricting these statutory rights. … The proposed measure would eliminate express statutory rights and place a condition of parental consent on accommodations that are currently available without such condition.

“The proposed measure objectively ‘restricts rights’ of transgender youth by preventing the exercise of their existing rights. ‘Restricts rights of transgender youth’ is an accurate and impartial description of the proposed measure,” Acquisto added.

The attorney general’s office has some leeway when it comes to determining ballot titles, the judge noted.

In a statement provided to the B.A.R. on April 24, after news that the decision had been made permanent, Protect Kids California attorney Nicole Pearson stated, “The mental gymnastics used to justify this prejudicial title and summary are not only an egregious abuse of discretion that entitles our clients to an appeal, but a chilling interpretation of law that jeopardizes the very foundation of our constitutional republic. We are reviewing our options for an appeal of these clear errors and will announce a decision shortly.”

Additional reporting by The Bay Area Reporter.

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California Politics

LGBTQ leaders launch SoCal Freedom to Marry Prop 8 Repeal

California voters will vote to take the defunct ban on same-sex marriage out of the state constitution in November

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Speakers at Thursday's press conference included: Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California; Eddie Martinez, Executive Director of Latino Equity Alliance & Huntington Park Council Member; Mario Trujillo, Mayor of Downey; Terra Russell-Slavin, Esq., Chief Impact Officer of Los Angeles LGBT Center; Mark Gonzalez, LACDP Chair Em. and Bamby Salcedo, President & Chief Executive Officer of TransLatin@ Coalition. (Photo Credit: Click Strategies)

By Rob Salerno | LOS ANGELES – Leaders of a coalition of LGBTQ advocacy groups hosted a rally at the Mi Centro LGBT Community Centre in Los Angeles Thursday to launch the Southern California referendum campaign to repeal the discriminatory definition of marriage in the state constitution in November.

“California is a beacon of equality. Our state should always protect fundamental civil rights for all people and fight discrimination wherever it exists,” Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California, told the launch rally. “The bottom line is that your freedom to marry is on the ballot in November. Let’s show the rest of the country that Californians stand up for freedom and equality.”

California voters narrowly affirmed Proposition 8, which added a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution, in 2008. The ban was eventually struck down under the due process clause of the US Constitution in decisions between 2010 and 2013, but the unenforceable ban remains in the state constitution.

But many observers are nervous that the extremely right-wing Supreme Court could reverse previous rulings that supported same-sex marriage, which could enable the ban to snap back into effect. These fears became acute when the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision reversed decades of precedent by ending the right to abortion. 

In a separate concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas openly suggested that the ruling implied that the Supreme Court should overturn previous decisions legalizing same-sex marriage and intercourse.

“We know that there is a well-funded, well-organized group of extremist people who want to chip away the gains we have gotten over the last few years,” Bamby Salcedo, President & Chief Executive Officer of TransLatin@ Coalition told the rally. “This freedom to marry initiative isn’t just for gay or lesbian people. It’s for all of us.”

Terra Russell-Slavin, Chief Impact Officer of Los Angeles LGBT Center, recalled how her organization campaigned the last time marriage equality was put to voters.

“We’re having many of the same conversations today we had in 2008, but this time, with Californians who are on the right side of history. With the majority of Angelenos and Californias who understand that we share a special bond as caretakers of our community. That’s what makes us family, and that’s what will make us win in November,” Russell-Slavin said. 

Speakers at the rally acknowledged that equality activists have had to do more outreach to minority communities in the years since Proposition 8 passed. 

Eddie Martinez, a Huntington Park city councilor and executive director of the Latino Equity Alliance, reflected on how queer Latinos reached out to parents, neighbors, and community leaders to build common cause after exit polling revealed that Latinos mostly supported the marriage ban.

“Latine LGBT activists and organizations knew it was time to be united and to educate our community about marriage equality,” he said. “We went to communities that voted up to 60% [for Prop 8] to have one-on-one conversations on marriage equality and other issues of importance to the Latine community, such as immigration and workers’ rights. Our fight was intersectional.” 

State legislators unanimously agreed to put a repeal question before voters last summer. 

Last week, the state Democratic Party announced it is supporting passage of the Freedom to Marry ballot measure.

California isn’t the only state considering a freedom to marry ballot question in November. Voters in Hawaii and Colorado will also be deciding on propositions to repeal their constitution’s marriage bans. 

“This is going to set the precedence for others to understand the importance of including these initiatives in their state constitutions,” Salcedo says. “We invite you to talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors, around your dinner table, to bring this issue to light because this is important to all of our communities.”

LGBTQ leaders launch SoCal Freedom to Marry campaign for Prop 8 Repeal

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Assemblyman Ward introduces AB 1955 to outlaw forced outing

“Across the country and here in California, LGBTQ+ young people are under attack from extremist politicians and school boards”

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Members of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, with Assemblymember Chris Ward speaking, at Equality California Advocacy Day 2023. (Photo Credit: Equality California)

SACRAMENTO – On Wednesday, the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, chair Sen. Susan Eggman, (D- San Joaquin County), and co-sponsor Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego) introduced AB 1955: Support Academic Futures and Educators for Today’s Youth Act (SAFETY Act) to ensure all of the state’s students have a safe and supportive environment to learn, regardless of their gender identity.

The legislation introduced coincided with Harvey Milk Day, honoring the slain LGBTQ+ rights activist and politician. In 2009, the State of California established Milk’s birthday, May 22 as Harvey Milk Day. On this day, Californian’s remember his life, accomplishments, and the LGBTQ+ community’s continuing fight for recognition and equality under the law.

More than a dozen school districts in California have proposed and/or passed forced outing policies to require teachers to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender. 

Transgender, nonbinary, and other LGBTQ+ youth are at risk due to this recent growing trend of forced outing policies. These efforts have led to a measurable impact on the mental health of California’s LGBTQ+ students, and can lead to a rise in bullying, harassment, discrimination, and more.

Since July 2023, when the Chino Valley Unified School District school board passed their first forced outing policy, over 700 calls were made to the Rainbow Youth Project Crisis hotline by LGBTQ+ youth from the Chino area alone. Rainbow Youth CEO Lance Preston told the Blade in an interview last Fall: “That is how toxic even discussing these issues [forced outing] makes the environment for queer kids who live there.”

Among those opposed to the implementation of the forced outing policies is the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond and the State Attorney General Rob Bonta.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond addressing the Chino Valley Unified School District school board, July 20, 2023.
(Photo by Kristi Hirst for the LA Blade)

Last summer the State Superintendent had traveled to Chino to state his opposition to the policy. Addressing the board, Thurmond cautioned the policy may “not only fall outside of the laws that respect privacy and safety for our students, but may put our students at risk because they may not be in homes where they can be safe.”

His words echoed a warning issued by California Attorney General Rob Bonta in a letter sent to Chino Valley Unified School’s Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board. Bonta expressed serious concern over the proposed Parental Notification policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities.

“By allowing for the disclosure of a student’s gender identity without their consent, Chino Valley Unified School District’s suggested Parental Notification policy would strip them of their freedom, violate their autonomy, and potentially put them in a harmful situation,” Bonta wrote. “Our schools should be protecting the rights of all students, especially those who are most vulnerable, and should be safeguarding students’ rights to fully participate in all educational and extracurricular opportunities.”

In October of 2023, San Bernardino California Superior Court Judge Michael Sachs issued a preliminary oral injunction against the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy, further halting the enforcement of the policy.

Chino Valley Unified joined several other Southern California school districts which passed similar policies. A Riverside County Superior Court judge denied a motion on Friday morning, Feb. 23, to issue an injunction seeking to stop the Temecula Valley Unified School District from enforcement of two controversial polices on transgender notification to parents or guardians and a ban on teaching of critical race theory.

Attorney General Rob Bonta listens intently to a member of the LGBTQ+ community in a August 2023 presentation. (Photo Credit: Office of the Attorney General)

School districts in San Diego County and Orange Counties have also passed similar policies.

The SAFETY Act will do three things one passed by the legislature and if signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, which is likely: Prohibit school districts from implementing forced outing policies, provide resources for parents and students to navigate conversations around gender and identity on their own terms, and ensure teachers or school staff are not retaliated against for refusing to forcibly out a student. 

Assemblymember Chris Ward who spoke with the Blade prior to the bill’s introduction stressed that the primary goal of AB 1955 is to take politics out of the classroom, have teachers teach not act as the gender police. “Nothing should ever prohibit the child-parent relationship nor dictate policies that are politically motivated,” he told the Blade.

“Had I not had a single supportive adult in my life, I never would have been able to find the strength to come out to my family, or to teach them what I had learned about who I am on my own,” said Kai, a Northern California-area LGBTQ+ youth. “Please don’t let another child endure the consequences of that support system being taken away due to forced outing policies. That’s why I support AB 1955.”

Equality California’s Executive Director Tony Hoang noted in response to the introduction of AB 1955:

“Across the country and here in California, LGBTQ+ young people are under attack from extremist politicians and school boards seeking to ban books, terrorize teachers, and make transgender youth afraid to be themselves at school. 

This critical legislation will provide resources for parents and families of LGBTQ+ students to support them as they have conversations on their own terms, protect LGBTQ+ students from isolation and bullying, and provide critical safeguards to prevent retaliation against teachers and school staff who foster a safe and supportive school environment for all students. 

Forced outing policies remove opportunities for LGBTQ+ students to build trust and seek out resources that best fit their coming out experience. LGBTQ+ youth and their families deserve to have these conversations at home and in a way that makes sure that students are safe and supported.”

“Under California law, schools are required to support and affirm LGBTQ+ students, which includes addressing students by the name and pronouns that match their identity and respecting their decisions about coming out,” said Becca Cramer-Mowder, legislative advocate at ACLU California Action. “By targeting transgender and nonbinary youth, forced outing policies violate state and federal anti-discrimination and privacy laws. The SAFETY Act strengthens existing protections that ensure that all California students are safe and treated fairly at school.”

Sen. Eggman, who cosponsored AB 1955, echoed Assemblymember Ward in a late afternoon phone call with the Blade Tuesday: “We need to take our time see what works best cooling down the forced outing momentum. The average parent just wants to have their kids safe. Our goal is not parental rights fight, schools should not be getting in between parents and kids- the goal is getting support so that all kids are safe.”

In a separate statement Eggman said:

“School campuses should be safe places for students to learn and grow as their authentic selves. The SAFETY Act is a critical piece of legislation that seeks to protect everyone on school campuses, especially LGBTQ+ students. When and how a person comes out is a conversation that should be reserved for a student and a parent, not arbitrarily forced on unsuspecting youth by a school administration.”

“Educating children works best with engaged parents and caring teachers working together to create a safe space for all children to learn,” said parent, former teacher, and Our Schools USA co-founder Kristi Hirst. “Forced outing policies harm children, condemn taxpayer dollars to be wasted on attorneys, and do nothing to improve public education in our state or across the country.”

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California Politics

Influential lesbian political couple killed in San Diego car crash

Moore and Wood were married in a ceremony at Oakland’s Lake Merritt a month prior to same-sex marriage being legalized in California

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Oakland political leader Peggy Moore, left, and her wife, Hope Wood, were killed Friday night in a vehicle collision in Southern California. (Photo: Moore/Facebook)

By Cynthia Laird, News Editor | SAN DIEGO COUNTY – Oakland political leader Peggy Moore and her wife, Hope Wood, died late Friday night, May 10, following a head-on collision on State Route 76 in unincorporated San Diego County. The news brought a flood of tributes on social media, as friends and colleagues remembered the couple.

According to multiple media reports, Moore and Wood were passengers in a Jeep Gladiator that was traveling westbound on the highway at 11:17 p.m. when a Chrysler 300 that was driving east swerved into the westbound lanes, striking the Jeep.

In addition to Moore and Wood, the driver of the Jeep was killed as was the driver of the Chrysler, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. A third car, a Toyota Camry, which was behind the Jeep, was involved in a minor side-swipe, according to the reports. It is not known why the Chrysler veered into oncoming traffic.

Moore, 60, had long been involved in Oakland politics. She managed the successful 2014 mayoral campaign for Libby Schaaf and served as a senior adviser to her. In 2016, she unsuccessfully ran for the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council, facing lesbian incumbent Rebecca Kaplan. Moore also worked as an organizer for Barack Obama’s winning 2008 presidential campaign.

In a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter Monday, Schaaf said that she was devastated by the loss of Moore and Wood. During her 2014 mayoral campaign, Schaaf said that she and Moore “spent all day, every day together for a year.”

“She molded me into the mayor I became — in the most beautiful ways our democracy needs more of,” Schaaf said. “She was centered in love.”

Schaaf said that she hosted a gathering at her home Saturday evening with her former campaign and City Hall staffers. “I was so shocked. I wanted to create a space to celebrate her and Hope,” she said. “It’s a devastating loss for me personally and for democracy.”

Schaaf added that Moore was the only member of her campaign team to come to work for her in City Hall as a senior adviser. Moore stayed until she launched her own City Council campaign, and then Schaaf said that she came back to City Hall for the last few months of Schaaf’s tenure. (Schaaf had been reelected in 2018 and left office in January 2023. She is currently running for state treasurer in 2026.)

Schaaf said that recently, Moore and Wood had been mostly living in Orange County to be closer to Wood’s family. Moore maintained an apartment in Oakland, Schaaf said. Moore had also been spending time with her family in Oklahoma City, which is where she celebrated her 60th birthday.

“I was on a Zoom call with her days ago,” Schaaf said.

Kaplan stated that Moore was a “dedicated community leader.”

“May her memory be a blessing,” she wrote in a text message. “Her death is a shock and a great loss.”

Congressmember Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) knew both women.

“I’m heartbroken to hear of the tragic loss of Peggy Moore and Hope Wood,” Lee wrote on X. “Peggy was a friend, an activist, and one of the best organizers I knew. Her passion and fight for justice and equality is what brought her and Hope together.

“Together they organized, changed hearts and minds, and helped to create a world where who you love doesn’t limit your freedoms,” she added. “Both Peggy and Hope made an impact on our community, on our city, on our state, and on our nation that will be felt for generations to come.”

“It is always tragic to lose a loved one, but the loss of Peggy Moore and Hope Wood is not just a personal loss to me, but a huge loss for our community. The dynamic duo have always fought to ensure there was representation and equity in every arena they worked within. We mourn the loss and appreciate their legacy, because their work will live on in the lives that they touched,” Shay Franco-Clausen, Political Director Equality California, said in a statement.

Started consulting firm

In 2019, Moore and Wood, 48, started Hope Action Change Consulting. On the site, they wrote that they fell in love while working on the 2008 Obama campaign.

“As women of color, we are experts at the dance of values in the workplace,” they wrote on the site. “We have lived outside the main streets of society in the intersections of our gender and our race, and we have learned to navigate a path through many streets where we have not been welcome. Despite the difficulties of this journey, we are full of optimism for where our path leads.”

Moore and Wood were married in a ceremony at Oakland’s Lake Merritt on July 29, 2013. It was a month prior that same-sex marriage returned to being legalized in California after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an appeals court decision that Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban passed by voters in 2008, was unconstitutional.

On Facebook, friends remembered the couple.

“We want you to know how much we loved you both,” Brendalynn Goodall, a member of the Alameda County Democratic County Central Committee, and her wife, Nancy Hinds, wrote. “The news of your passing has left us feeling shocked, numb, and incredibly sad. It’s hard to believe you are no longer here. You were more than just friends — you were family.

“We shared so many unforgettable memories and experiences together — from life’s ups and downs to discussions about politics, community, family, relationships, careers, and even our beloved pets,” added Goodall. “We were always there for each other, through thick and thin.”

Longtime DJ Page Hodel was also stunned by the news. “I am still doubled over … literally speechless over hearing the news of the tragic passing of our beloved Peggy Moore and her wife Hope Wood,” she wrote on Facebook.

Moore is also remembered for co-founding Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride, which took place in Oakland beginning in the early 2000s. Kaplan mentioned it as one of Moore’s accomplishments. For a decade, it brought the East Bay’s diverse queer women’s community together in celebration during the last weekend of August. Up to 2,000 queer women attended the event at its peak, Moore told the B.A.R. in 2011, the last year of the march.

The event had started as the East Bay’s version of the dyke march held in San Francisco and took place in conjunction with the old East Bay Pride. When that event stopped in 2003, Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride stepped up, so to speak, to make sure there was a queer presence in the East Bay.

The new Oakland Pride started in 2010. Last year, a combined Oakland Pride and Pridefest parade and festival were held in early September.

Wood was a former teaching fellow for Harvard Kennedy School’s Leadership Organizing, Action: Leading Change course and a UCLA teacher education program alumna, according to the couple’s consulting website. She had devoted more than two decades of her life to organizing across California and the United States.

Moore and Wood’s friend Lisbet Tellefsen organized an impromptu memorial Sunday, May 12, at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater where Moore and Wood were married. Schaaf said that she attended.

“There were lots of [people wearing] Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride and Moore for City Council T-shirts,” Schaaf said.

“She was an amazing leader for the LGBTQ+ community,” Schaaf added. “She brought her full self to everything she did.”

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

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U.S. Rep. Young Kim’s support from far-right extremist Jack Hibbs

Hibbs, a Christian nationalist pastor, podcaster, & commentator has appeared on right-wing outlets like Newsmax, Fox News, & Charlie Kirk

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Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) has spent years cultivating support from far-right extremist and pastor Jack Hibbs. (Photo montage: Media Matters)

By Eric Hananoki CHINO HILLS, Calif. – Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) has spent years cultivating support from far-right extremist and pastor Jack Hibbs, who has repeatedly told followers to vote for her and hosted Kim at his California church to call for “her sweet and glorious victory.”

Those interactions also include Kim telling him that he’s done an “awesome job shepherding, guiding our congregation” and praising Hibbs on the day he delivered a sermon attacking LGBTQ pride. 

Hibbs is a Christian nationalist pastor, podcaster, and commentator who has appeared on right-wing outlets like Newsmax, Fox News, and Charlie Kirk’s program. He also has a lengthy record of toxic commentary, which became a source of controversy earlier this year when House Speaker Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) invited him to serve as the House of Representatives’ guest chaplain.

Hibbs has criticized in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a process where people “throw away 500 children” to get one child. He said that Jewish people need to abandon their religion. He’s told his congregation that “violent” LGBTQ people will go door-to-door and threaten “to sodomize people who disagree with them.” And he’s advised his followers that their Muslim neighbors are going to turn on them “very soon” and side with terrorists.

Hibbs has a long history of bigoted and far-right rhetoric

IVF: Hibbs is staunchly anti-abortion and has also criticized in vitro fertilization. During a 2013 sermon, he said

HIBBS: The Bible says that God opens and closes the womb according to his will. There are people who can’t get pregnant, and they get pregnant through artificial insemination. I would never judge that. And I don’t have an up vote or a down vote on it. I leave that in the hands of God. OK?  […]

For me personally, my conviction is it does concern me about the disposing of a fertilized egg. For this, my reasons are purely theological. I understand the scientific part of it. That’s a done deal. It was life before it was fertilized. So the issue becomes to get one child, do we throw away 500 children? See our culture says, who cares? It’s just nothing. I understand that, but you can’t tell that to a scientist. A scientist will tell you that little nothing you just threw in the trash can is just as technically advanced and powerful and meaningful as if it lived to be 99 years old on the scientific level.

You see, it becomes an ethical, moral issue, doesn’t it? So you have to be [INAUDIBLE] in your own heart and your own mind, and just leave it at that. It’s a tough thing to answer. Be personally convinced, and let the Lord lead you in that.

Jewish people: Hibbs stated that people must look past “the sins of the Jew and give them the hope of Jesus” and claimed that “true Jews” are those who don’t “get bogged down in Judaism, which … cannot save you.”

LGBTQ people: After the Supreme Court approved marriage equality, Hibbs told his congregation in a 2015 sermon: “God is telling us, ‘Jack, church, don’t put your hope in man, you’ll be disappointed. Hope in me because it’s going to be like it was in the days of Lot. Violent homosexuality, knocking on doors, threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them.’” 

In September 2019, Hibbs said of people “who practice homosexuality”: “The Bible says it is destructive against nature. It destroys your body and it ruins your psyche, and it ravages your soul. I have all the Scriptures here to back that up.”

He has also stated that “transgenderism is actually a sexually perverted cult” and claimed transgender people are evidence of the “last days.” He supports dangerous and discredited conversion therapy as he issued guidance telling people how they can supposedly change their sexual orientation.

Muslims: Hibbs has warned his congregation about the alleged danger of Muslims by invoking the ISIS caliphatetelling them during a 2015 sermon: “If your friends are devout Muslims, they have a horrific day of reckoning coming very soon for them. They are going to have to choose between the caliphate and being a nice neighbor to you. Think of that. They have no choice one way or the other. I’d like to side with Patrick Henry. Give me liberty or give me death.” 

In a 2007 sermon about “The Rise of Islam,” he falsely said: “Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist has been a Muslim.” Speaking on Charlie Kirk’s radio show last year, Hibbs said of Islam: “It is violent, it is deadly, it’s a death cult.” 

Hibbs’ church also released a companion guide that unabashedly portrays Muslims as a threat to the country, including stating: “Muslims are mandated to expand where ever they are. They must convert you and or your children. And they must kill those who do not convert.” 

An excerpt from an anti-Muslim guide from Jack Hibbs’ church.

Kim has had a years-long history with Hibbs

Kim, a former member of California’s State Assembly who currently represents the state’s 40th Congressional District, has spent years relying on the support of Hibbs. 

On February 23, 2020, she appeared with Hibbs at his church, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, during her second campaign for California’s 39th Congressional District. A broadcast posted to the church’s Facebook page identified Kim as a “congressional candidate” (Hibbs is currently under criticism for using his church for electioneering). 

Hibbs began: “On the local ballot for us here, we’re going to bring out three candidates who we support, we pray for, and we want to honor for their commitment. The first is no stranger to us. She’s not only been here before, but she’ll attend service from time to time. She’s running for the 39th District, which we need her to win this time. I think she won last time, personally. That was up against Gil Cisneros. I’m talking about Young Kim.” 

While on stage, Kim thanked Hibbs for talking about the election, stating: “Pastor Jack, you’re doing an awesome job shepherding, guiding our congregation to really understand why it is so important to find out who the candidates are with biblical values so we don’t have the legislation, the sex education that is passing while we were sleeping.” 

She then told the congregation that “we need to elect elected leaders who share our Christian biblical values.” 

After Kim spoke, Hibbs said: “We love her. We thank you for her, and God, we pray that come election night that there would be no angel or demon able to tamper with the results. That Lord, you would bring her sweet and glorious victory.” 

Kim has repeatedly praised Hibbs online. After that February 2020 endorsement, she shared photos of her appearance with Hibbs and wrote: “Had a blessed Sunday visiting Calvary Chapel Chino Hills and Agape Church OC in Yorba Linda. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my testimony. I am so grateful and encouraged by your prayers!” 

She also wrote in August 2018: “Great to meet with Pastor Jack Hibbs … Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and all you do for our community!” 

And on June 5, 2022, she praised Hibbs for delivering a sermon, stating: “Great to hear Pastor Jack’s sermon and see friends this morning at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills. Thanks for the warm reception!” 

While Kim did not specify the content of the sermon, or what she heard, that June 5 sermon had criticism of Pride Month, with Hibbs stating

HIBBS: Some people are saying that it’s Pride Month. And so I had a thought about that. Look, it’s a free country. Our Constitution protects everyone’s views and stuff like that. You know? It’s a free country. That’s their, that’s — they said it’s their month.

And then I thought, you know what? We ought to start — by the way, I’m joking. But could you imagine? Let’s start a Christian pride month. Now, what what no. Don’t clap. Don’t clap. That’s not good.

Where do you go to church? You should not clap at that. Christian and pride should never come together. Right? That’s important. Of all the sins listed in the Scriptures, the sin of pride is the original, the Bible says.

In addition to endorsing Kim at his church, Hibbs has frequently praised her online:

  • He wrote in August 2018: “VOTE PRO-LIFE. I had a great sit down with YOUNG KIM. We discussed issues our biblical worldview and prayed together.” 
  • He wrote in February 2020 that he “just voted for Young Kim” and posted a picture of a Kim campaign sign. He stated a few days later: “If you attend Calvary Chapel Chino Hills then you most likely live (as I do) in the 39th. District and If you do then I am asking you to support and vote for Young Kim. SHE HAS 100% OF MY SUPPORT – – VOTE YOUNG KIM in the 39th.” 
  • He wrote in April 2020 regarding a coronavirus op-ed she penned for right-wing outlet The Epoch Times: “A BIG THANK YOU from our very own Young Kim. And if you her Op-Ed, remember to vote for her this coming November (if we have elections).” 
  • He wrote in January 2021 regarding Kim’s support for anti-abortion legislation: “We are so proud of our very own congresswoman Young Kim. God bless you Young keep up the fight we’ve got your back.” 

Additionally, Hibbs invited his followers to a 2018 “Meet and Greet with Young Kim, Candidate for the 39th Congressional District,” adding, “I want to encourage you to pray and vote Young Kim on Tuesday.” He also donated to Kim’s campaign in 2020. 

In a post in February, Hibbs again endorsed Kim for Congress.

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The preceding article & research study was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Newsom releases revised budget, cuts spending, state vacancies

The budget proposal — covering two years — cuts spending, makes government leaner, & preserves core services without new taxes

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom releases the revised state budget on May 10, 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today released a May Revision proposal for the 2024-25 fiscal year that ensures the budget is balanced over the next two fiscal years by tightening the state’s belt and stabilizing spending following the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic, all while preserving key ongoing investments. 

Under the Governor’s proposal, the state is projected to achieve a positive operating reserve balance not only in this budget year but also in the next. This “budget year, plus one” proposal is designed to bring longer-term stability to state finances without delay and create an operating surplus in the 2025-26 budget year.

In the years leading up to this May Revision, the Newsom Administration recognized the threats of an uncertain stock market and federal tax deadline delays – setting aside $38 billion in reserves that could be utilized for shortfalls. That has put California in a strong position to maintain fiscal stability.

“Even when revenues were booming, we were preparing for possible downturns by investing in reserves and paying down debts – that’s put us in a position to close budget gaps while protecting core services that Californians depend on. Without raising taxes on Californians, we’re delivering a balanced budget over two years that continues the progress we’ve fought so hard to achieve, from getting folks off the streets to addressing the climate crisis to keeping our communities safe,” Newsom told an audience of reporters and officials.

Key Takeaways:

A BALANCED BUDGET OVER TWO YEARS. 

The Governor is solving two years of budget problems in a single budget, tightening the state’s belt to get the budget back to normal after the tumultuous years of the COVID-19 pandemic. By addressing the shortfall for this budget year — and next year — the Governor is eliminating the 2024-25 deficit and eliminating a projected deficit for the 2025-26 budget year that is $27.6 billion (after taking an early budget action) and $28.4 billion respectively.

CUTTING SPENDING, MAKING GOVERNMENT LEANER. 

Governor Newsom’s revised balanced state budget cuts one-time spending by $19.1 billion and ongoing spending by $13.7 billion through 2025-26. This includes a nearly 8% cut to state operations and a targeted elimination of 10,000 unfilled state positions, improving government efficiency and reducing non-essential spending — without raising taxes on individuals or proposing state worker furloughs. The budget makes California government more efficient, leaner, and modern — saving costs by streamlining procurement, cutting bureaucratic red tape, and reducing redundancies.

PRESERVING CORE SERVICES & SAFETY NETS. 

The budget maintains service levels for many key housing, food, health care, and other assistance programs that Californians rely on while addressing the deficit by pausing the expansion of certain programs and decreasing numerous recent one-time and ongoing investments.

NO NEW TAXES & MORE RAINY DAY SAVINGS. 

Governor Newsom is balancing the budget by getting state spending under control — cutting costs, not proposing new taxes on hardworking Californians and small businesses — and reducing the reliance on the state’s “Rainy Day” reserves this year.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, California’s budget shortfall is rooted in two separate but related developments over the past two years.

  • First, the state’s revenue, heavily reliant on personal income taxes including capital gains, surged in 2021 due to a robust stock market but plummeted in 2022 following a market downturn. While the market bounced back by late 2023, the state continued to collect less tax revenue than projected in part due to something called “capital loss carryover,” which allows losses from previous years to reduce how much an individual is taxed.
  • Second, the IRS extended the tax filing deadline for most California taxpayers in 2023 following severe winter storms, delaying the revelation of reduced tax receipts. When these receipts were able to eventually be processed, they were 22% below expectations. Without the filing delay, the revenue drop would have been incorporated into last year’s budget and the shortfall this year would be significantly smaller. 

The governor maintains that with his revised balanced budget, it sets the state up for continued economic success. California’s economy remains the 5th largest economy in the world and for the first time in years, the state’s population is increasing and tourism spending recently experienced a record high. California is #1 in the nation for new business starts, #1 for access to venture capital funding, and the #1 state for manufacturinghigh-tech, and agriculture.

Additional details on the May Revise proposal can be found in this fact sheet and at www.ebudget.ca.gov.

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California Politics

Commissioner Danny Hang is running for WeHo City Council

The nomination period for the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election begins on July 15 and continues until August 9 at 5:00 p.m.

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Danny Hang - Photo by Mike Pingel

By Mike Pingel WEST HOLLYWOOD – West Hollywood Business License Commissioner Danny Hang is throwing his hat in the ring in the race for two open seats for West Hollywood City Council in the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election.

Hang is a Southern California native who was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. He is the proud son of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees who fled the Vietnam War in search of hope, freedom, and the American dream.

The son of a union worker, Hang saw firsthand how his father worked long hours as a machinist and became a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 725. Hang is a passionate advocate of professional growth and vocational equity. He believes that workers are the backbone of the most powerful economy in the world, and deserve a fair and equitable wage. Because when workers succeed, then EVERYONE succeeds.

As the son of an immigrant small business owner, Hang watched his mom’s nail salon succeed and slowly serve as an equalizer leading to a pathway to the American middle class for his family. He knows firsthand that small businesses are vital to creating local jobs and growing the West Hollywood economy. Immigrant-owned small businesses are centerpieces of their neighborhoods, and they contribute in a meaningful way to the diversity and vibrancy of the West Hollywood community. As such, Hang recognizes the economic and community oriented success that West Hollywood’s thriving Russian speaking community has continued to achieve throughout the years.

A first-generation college graduate, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University and kicked off his career in public service at the Social Security Administration, where he adjudicated Supplemental Security Income benefits for people with disabilities and older adults.​

Having fueled his passion for serving others, he returned to school to pursue a double master’s in Social Work and Gerontology from the University of Southern California. Hang now works in disability retirement for the county of Los Angeles.

His involvement with the community led to his appointment as an at-large member of the West Hollywood Disabilities Advisory Board. He worked hard to address issues affecting people with disabilities, including ADA compliance, transportation, housing, and access to City government and services for people with disabilities.

He was later appointed to the West Hollywood Business License Commission. Additionally, he was also appointed as an alternate member of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation by the State Bar Board of Trustees and he serves on the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Advisory Board. He also served on the Executive Board for Asian Democrats of Los Angeles County.

Hang is a proud member of the West Hollywood community where he resides with his cat Piper. His focus is on improving the community through servant leadership.

The Nomination Period for the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election begins on Monday, July 15 and continues until Friday, August 9 at 5:00 p.m. The City Clerk’s Office will begin taking appointments to pull Nomination Papers on Monday, July 8.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist.

His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Recognizing & celebrating lesbians: Mayor Pro-Tem of El Cerrito

Lesbian Visibility Week stands as a vibrant affirmation of solidarity with lesbian/queer women within the LGBTQ+ community

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Mayor Pro-Tem of El Cerrito, California, Carolyn Wysinger. (Photo Credit: Carolyn Wysinger)

EL CERRITO, Calif. – Carolyn Wysinger is a distinguished figure in both local politics and the LGBTQ+ community having risen as a prominent voice advocating for inclusivity and diversity. Her first term as Mayor Pro-Tem of El Cerrito, California is marked by a robust commitment to visibility and engagement in political arenas.

First elected to the El Cerrito City Council in 2020, Wysinger’s trajectory in politics has been underpinned by her resolve to bring LGBTQ+ voices to the forefront of decision-making. Her work emphasizes the crucial role of allies in combating anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, advocating for a political landscape that welcomes all voices, particularly those from marginalized communities.

Carolyn Wysinger shown here as the latest newly elected member of the El Cerrito City Council in 2020.
(Photo courtesy of Carolyn Wysinger)

Before venturing into politics, Wysinger made significant contributions to the cultural and educational sectors. A lifelong resident of Contra Costa and a proud graduate with a B.A. in English from California State University, Long Beach, with a M.F.A. from Antioch University, she has also been a vital part of the literary world. Her book, “Knockturnal Emissions: Thoughts on #race #sexuality #gender & #community,” provides insights into diverse identities and has been featured on essential reading lists at several universities.

Wysinger’s influence extends beyond her literary achievements. She has organized notable queer events such as LA’s NFL Sunday Funday and the Long Beach Blue Party, and she has held leadership roles with organizations such as the NIA Collective, San Francisco Pride, and the Human Rights & Relations Commission of Richmond. Her appointment to various committees, including the Economic Recovery Task Force of San Francisco and the Legislative Committee of the California Democratic Party, showcases her broad impact across social and political spheres.

Her community engagement is highlighted by her affiliations with the Sierra Club, NAACP, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and her involvement in the Philonise and Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change. These roles reflect her deep commitment to addressing systemic inequalities and fostering community solidarity.

In addition to her political and social endeavors, Wysinger is known in her community as an educator who has profoundly impacted the lives of her students at Richmond High School, where she taught English Language Learning, African-American Literature, and led several student groups, including the Black Student Union and LGBTQ Student club.

Wysinger’s Take on Lesbian Visibility Week

In an exclusive interview with The Los Angeles Blade, Wysinger shared her robust insights on the significance of representation and the ongoing struggles and victories of the LGBTQ community during Lesbian Visibility Week.

Wysinger, a steadfast advocate for equal representation in politics, emphasized the necessity of proportional representation of women, including LGBTQ individuals and people of color. “Having a proportional amount of women represented in politics to the constituents is extremely important. We need this not only for women but for everyone in the community,” she explained, underlining the intersectionality of representation.

The current political climate has seen a surge in anti-LGBTQ laws, but Wysinger remains optimistic due to the strong network of allies within California. “It is great to know we have so many allies in California who are fighting in their respective offices to bring equity to our community,” she said.

This network includes notable figures such as London Nicole Breed, the Mayor of San Francisco and State Controller Malia Cohen, who have been pivotal allies, supporting Wysinger as a woman of color in her political journey.

Wysinger also addressed a common narrative that discourages women within the LGBTQ community from seeking elected office. She is committed to dismantling this mindset, attributing her success in leadership to the support from various political queer groups, including Equality California.

Reflecting on the evolution of LGBTQ visibility, Wysinger highlighted the stark contrast between the representation she observed growing up between the Bay Area and Louisiana and the visibility in today’s media.

“Lesbian Visibility Week is something that we did not have back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s when we were being so heavily targeted. This week is a reminder of what we have done in the community and that we are here. It is so important to highlight the queer women who are on the front lines of what we are fighting right now,” Wysinger said.

Wysinger credits her nieces and nephews as a significant inspiration, underscoring the importance of nurturing the future generation of leaders and allies. Her message to the younger generation and to her younger self is resonant with empowerment: quoting a line from the television sitcom “A Different World,” delivered by famed Black comedian Whoopi Goldberg, Wysinger said, “You are a voice in this world, and you deserve to be heard.”

Through her leadership and advocacy, Wysinger continues to champion the visibility and representation of lesbian and queer women, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Lesbian Visibility Week

Lesbian Visibility Week, extending the celebration from a single day that began in 2008 to a full week, stands as a vibrant affirmation of solidarity with LGBTQI women and non-binary individuals within the community. This special week  spanning April 22-28not only celebrates lesbian identity but also underscores the importance of inclusivity and support for all women, particularly those from marginalized communities.

Graphic design by Chiamaka Ejindu

The initiative for Lesbian Visibility Week was catalyzed by concerning findings from the Pride Matters survey conducted by Pride in London in 2018, which revealed that gay women are almost twice as likely to conceal their sexual orientation in the workplace compared to their gay male counterparts. This stark disparity highlights the urgent need for greater visibility and acceptance of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women both in professional environments and in daily life.

Organized with the support of the Diversity Umbrella Foundation, Lesbian Visibility Week aims to create a more inclusive society where LBTQ women can openly express their true selves without fear of discrimination. Whether it’s at work, at home, or in social settings, the week promotes a culture of understanding and acceptance.

The significance of Lesbian Visibility Week is also reflected in the efforts of DIVA Media Group, Europe’s leading LGBTQ media organization, which reaches an audience of 250,000 users monthly, in partnership with EL*C (Euro Central Asian Lesbian Committee), ILGA World, GLAAD, Curve and LGBT Foundation. Feedback from the community indicates a persistent feeling of being misunderstood and under-supported, further emphasizing the necessity of this observance.

Through a series of events, educational activities, and community engagements, Lesbian Visibility Week not only celebrates the contributions and diversity of lesbian women but also fosters a dialogue about the challenges they face. By doing so, it strives to be a powerful voice for unity, lifting up voices that are too often silenced and paving the way for a more equitable society.

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California Politics

WeHo Mayor John M. Erickson discusses re-election campaign

Erickson officially announced his re-election campaign for West Hollywood City Council this week & sits down with WeHo Times

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West Hollywood Mayor John M Erickson - (Photo by Paulo Murillo/WEHO TIMES)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – West Hollywood Mayor John M. Erickson, Ph.D. officially announced his re-election campaign for West Hollywood City Council this week.

WeHo Times caught up with the incumbent following his big announcement to discuss his campaign, some of his accomplishments from his first term and the challenges he faces ahead.

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So it’s official today. You announced your run for reelection.

Yes. I announced this morning I’m running for re-election to the West Hollywood City Council.

What is running for re-election looking like for you?

It looks like what I’ve been doing for the last four years, delivering for our residents and our businesses. When I look at the city and where I started four years ago, back then, we weren’t allowed to go outside. We were in masks, and now we are out in a vibrant, although a little gray and overcast today, sky. We have new businesses opening every day. We have residents that are further protected, thanks to some of the tenant harassment ordinances that we’ve passed. And we’re working on bringing the city into the future with new infrastructure and great new projects like the coast Playhouse and the purchasing of the Log Cabin on Robertson Boulevard. These things that are priorities to me and always have been, so the work that we’re doing continues on. My re-election ensures that the residents and businesses remain at the forefront of my mind, and I am committed to running strongly to ensure that we prioritize their needs.

Pandemic lockdown aside, how else is this campaign different from the last one?

I mean, the last time I ran, I ran a people forward campaign. It was a people centric campaign that really focused on bringing a new voice to the City of West Hollywood. And this time, it’s about holding true to those values that I ran on. I think the stuff that I’ve done over the last four years and also just the sheer logistics this time, we can go door-to-door, we can go out and see each other, and be within six feet, so making sure that the community feel we are back and are part of the campaign. That’s something I love so much.

What kind of feedback are you getting after people learned you were running for re-election?

I’ve announced it early. I’m really proud to say I am endorsed by over, I believe, 70 board members and commissioners. I’m endorsed by almost every elected official that represents West Hollywood and some are Congress member Adam Schiff, supervisor Lindsey Horvath, Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Rick Chavez, and my colleagues Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers and Councilmember Sepi Shine. When you look at the list, it’s a broad coalition of supporters and organizations already. I’m endorsed by Equality California, Victory Fund, The Los Angeles Building Trades Council, the Sierra Club, and the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. A lot of people jumped in early because they see the progress that we’ve made, and I’m really excited to see the momentum going forward.

What kind of challenges does your campaign anticipate?

I think the main topic of conversation will be what the future of the City of West Hollywood looks like, and I really welcome those conversations. I’m going to be running a positive campaign like I always did. I’m not going to be getting into the mud because I believe that residents want a positive mayor and a positive candidate out there putting forth a vision of the city that not only shows our progressive values, and our history, but also leans us towards the future in the way that we’ve been going. Is everything sunshine and rainbows? No candidate should ever say that. But we have work to do, and I’m really looking forward to that work and in those robust conversations.

What are some of the issues that are coming up for you, in this this election versus your first run?

This time it’s about building more affordable housing and housing, as a whole. We have a lot of housing to build and transportation infrastructure. We’re trying to bring the city into the 21st century when it comes to our roads and sidewalks and making sure that they’re accessible to everyone, and getting people out of cars and maybe onto bikes are another mode of transit. Walking is another great example. I think the last and most important thing that I said when I first ran was climate change. I’ve really made that a staple of my campaign, sustainability practices and climate resilience and I have that record to back it up. That’s why I’ve already received endorsements from the two leading organizations in that field. And we have a lot of work to continue to make sure West Hollywood leads on those issues. Then I think when we always invest in community safety and our businesses, you can’t go wrong there.

How is your campaign addressing public safety?

As many know, I led the charge to bring back two deputies after hearing the response from the community and making sure that our people felt safe. The first call we always get is always going to be about community safety. We need to make sure we’re responsible to that and so we’re building and pushing forward a robust public safety plan. I’m already endorsed by the firefighters and that’s really important to me, because they are our first responders. We’re building a new state-of-the-art Fire and Sheriff Station in partnership with LA County so that first responders have 21st-century tools to ensure that our diverse community is safe at home and in our neighborhoods.

So what do you tell the voter who isn’t sure about you?

I would ask them to look at my work ethic, and look at the work that I have done, and look at my response to the community. When you email City Hall, do you not get an email back? Do you not get a phone call back? What I say to the voter that’s unsure is that I’ve led the City with distinction and I’ve led the city with, I believe, the honor that I’ve always been taught by my former mentors. I’m looking forward to continuing that and making sure that the people of the City of West Hollywood know that they’re my first priority.

How will your campaign address your detractors?

There’s always going to be detractors. I would say that even my detractors would say that I answer the phone when they call. I don’t think anyone can ever say that I don’t welcome a robust conversation. I have very strong values and morals. I’m really proud of that. My grandmother taught me those things when as a young queer kid in Ripon, Wisconsin. I think the most important thing that I can say to my detractors is, you may not like what I’ve done, or you may not like what we’re trying to do as a city, but I want you to come and talk to me and give it a chance. If after that, you still don’t want to be involved in the conversation, you can always call me if something’s happening because I’m there for you just as I’m there for everyone else.

What do you love most about being Mayor and council member of the City of West Hollywood?

The best part about being the mayor and the council member in the City of West Hollywood is you get to see and interact with people on a person-to-person basis in a way that we all work together for a better future for our city. When the principal of West Hollywood Elementary School can call the mayor directly and not have to go through staff, when a resident can call, or a parent at a school can call the Mayor of West Hollywood and say they’re having this issue, or need more green space, or they want to have pickleball courts in the city… my answer is going to be yes, because that’s the role of our local government. Local is where community happens. And I’m so proud of that. This is why I post my Plummer Park event for the last 34 months now without missing a single one. The community needs to know that we’re out at a school, or we’re out in the streets, or their businesses. The mayor is listening and I think that’s the best part of being here, we get to hear right from the community.

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For a full list of endorsements, biography, issues, and more visit www.erickson4weho.org and follow John on social media @JohnEricksonWH.

To read about John’s accomplishments in his first term, go to: https://erickson4weho.com/about-john

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Raul Ureña battles recall election in Calexico over his trans identity

For Ureña, the recall is more than a political hurdle; it is a litmus test for the values of the community he serves

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Raul Ureña (center) with supporters last month in Calexico, Calif. (Photo Credit: Raul Ureña/Facebook)

CALEXICO, Calif. – A battle is underway that encapsulates the broader national struggle over LGBTQ+ rights, environmental policy, and the future direction of local governance. At the center of this storm is Raul Ureña, 26, one of the youngest and first openly transgender city council members in Calexico’s history.

Ureña faces a recall election orchestrated by a faction of past politicians and fueled by a campaign marred with alleged misinformation and accusations rooted in prejudice.

Ureña, alongside fellow young councilmember Gilberto Manzanarez, has been instrumental in ushering in a new era of progressive policy-making in Calexico, aimed at rectifying a decade of economic downturn, political strife, and social neglect. Their tenure has been marked by significant investments in the community’s infrastructure, environmental initiatives, public safety, and efforts to boost the financial health of the city, in stark contrast to the practices of previous administrations.

The Recall Effort: A Closer Look

The recall, set against the backdrop of Calexico’s 116th anniversary, emerges as a politically motivated attempt to derail the momentum gained by Ureña and his colleagues. Ureña provided insights into the recall’s dynamics: “Right now it is April 5, we are 11 days from the recall election that was petitioned by a group of very hateful citizens,” Ureña told The Bolade. “They have raised north of $30,000, which is a substantial amount for our small city, mainly to circulate petitions for the recall.” 

Despite the financial and political onslaught, Ureña remains undeterred, highlighting the backing from organizations like the United Auto Workers, a testament to his environmental advocacy and progressive policies, including the introduction of the county’s fastest and only electric vehicle chargers.

The Impact of Ureña’s Policies

Under Ureña’s stewardship, Calexico has witnessed tangible progress across several domains:

  • Financial Health: Addressing the city’s financial mismanagement has been a priority, with corrective measures now steering Calexico away from a state-designated “High Risk” status due to previous overspending and budgetary inaccuracies.
  • Transportation and Infrastructure: Ureña’s role as the city’s commissioner at the Imperial County Transportation Commission has been pivotal in securing funding and advancing projects like the $13.4 million Intermodal Transportation Center, set to enhance regional mobility and address border traffic issues.
  • Environmental Advocacy: A staunch environmentalist, Ureña has championed the New River Improvement Project, aiming to remediate one of the nation’s most polluted rivers, alongside initiating the city’s first micro-transit system, which has become the county’s most successful transit service.
  • Community and Public Safety: Investments in emergency services, the rehabilitation of essential facilities like Fire Station #2, and improvements in parks and recreation underscore the commitment to public welfare and community engagement.
  • ProWorker Policies: Ureña and Manzanarez have implemented pro-worker policies as part of their economic development strategy in Calexico, focusing on the well-being of the working population. They spearheaded an equitable spending plan for the American Relief Plan Act (ARPA), allocating 1 million dollars in “hero pay” to essential workers who served during the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing their contributions as equally valuable to those of other city employees who received similar compensations in the past.

Facing Down Hate and Misinformation

Addressing the recall campaign’s undertones, Ureña stated, “The claims against me for the recall are just dog whistles for transphobia.” 

He remains committed to his agenda, asserting that he takes the right’s labeling his party as “radicals” as a complimentary testament to their dedication. “We have our goals and strong ideas. we  said we were going to clean up the new river and that project is under construction. The electric vehicle chargers are under construction. We are building the largest transportation center in the imperial county. We are building affordable housing. We are radical, because when we say we are going to do something, we go ahead, and we do it. No excuses.”

Equality California (EQCA) has thrown its support behind Ureña.

“Ureña is one of only a handful of out transgender elected officials in California and, at a time when trans Californians are facing unprecedented political attacks, trans representation in elected office is more important than ever,” said EQCA Executive Director, Tony Hoang. 

The Future of Calexico

As the recall election looms, the stakes for Calexico and for Ureña could not be higher. A city at a crossroads, Calexico’s voters face a choice between continuing on a path of progressive reform and environmental stewardship or reverting to the governance that precipitated years of decline.

For Ureña, the recall is more than a political hurdle; it is a litmus test for the values of the community he serves, the efficacy of his policies, and the resilience of progress against the tide of misinformation and intolerance.

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