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California Politics

Bass sworn in as LA mayor, marking a triumph for women of color

“I call on the people of our city to not just dream of the L.A. we want, but to participate in making the dream come true”



Karen Bass takes the oath of office from Vice-President Kamala Harris (Photo Credit: Bass for Mayor Campaign)

LOS ANGELES – Thousands gathered in downtown L.A. today at the Microsoft Theatre to witness the historic inauguration of Mayor-elect Karen Bass. Many danced in the aisles to the upbeat music pouring into the theatre through the loudspeakers.

Bass was sworn in by the Vice-President of the United States Kamala Harris, the first Black and first woman American ever elected to hold that office.

The celebratory energy carried through to the governor and members of the legislature sitting on stage in front of a backdrop of LA’s city hall, some of them swaying and clapping along to the music as well. The ceremony had been moved inside due to the threat of rain and inclement weather.

Microsoft Theatre inaugural stage (Photo Credit: Simha Haddad)

Bass, 69, no stranger to pioneering women’s and African American rights, is now Los Angeles’ 43rd mayor and the first woman and second African American to be elected to this position after the legendary Mayor Tom Bradley, in the City’s two hundred and forty-one year history. She won the election against billionaire businessman and developer Rick Caruso in a neck-and-neck race.

“Making history with each of you today is a monumental moment in my life and for Los Angeles,” said the new mayor in her inauguration speech and then in a nod to the L.A. County government added:

“And let’s not forget our all-female County Board of Supervisors! We are all going to make so much history together in a state that has enshrined in our constitution a woman’s right to decide what happens to her body!”

Mayor Karen Bass delivering her inauguration speech (Photo Credit: Simha Haddad)

The daughter of a working-class father and stay-at-home mother, Bass earned her high school degree from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in health sciences from CSU Dominguez Hills. She then graduated from the USC Kerk School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program with a master’s in social work.  

Bass started her career not working in politics, but as a nurse and Physician’s Assistant. She went on to found the Community Coalition with the goal of helping South L.A. fight substance abuse and other issues that menace underserved neighborhoods, such as inadequate income and high crime rates.

She then went on to make history as the first Black Speaker in the California State Assembly. Her work there with managing state funds also earned her a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

Bass was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. She represented California’s 33rd congressional district during her first term, though redistricting moved her to the 37th district in 2012. As a member of Congress representing Los Angeles and Culver City, Bass was praised by the Los Angeles Times for creating “the most significant child welfare policy reform in decades.” 

Her campaign for the office of Mayor of L.A. was largely focused on ending the homeless crisis — a promise the new Mayor addressed today. 

“Tragically, our city has earned the shameful crown as being home to some of the most crowded neighborhoods in the nation—Pico Union, South L.A., East L.A., the East Valley. We know our mission – we must build housing in every neighborhood.”

As of tomorrow, Mayor Bass will declare a state of emergency on homelessness. 

Today’s inauguration ceremony commenced with the National Anthem, sung by US Navy Musician 3rd Class, Alexander Charles. Invocation speeches were then given by Rev. Norman Johnson, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Dr. Sadegh Namazikah, and Rev Rene Molina.

Rev. Johnson led a prayer in gratitude for this historic event. He then praised Bass for her integrity and her championing of multi-racial democracy, stating, “her journey has been long, but she has stayed true to the values taught to her by her parents.” 

Mayor Karen Bass delivering her inauguration speech (Photo Credit: Bass for Mayor Campaign)

“My mother always taught me that it is so easy to be kind,” said Bass in her speech, “and that having compassion and empathy is so much more powerful than self centeredness and self-promotion.”

“My father taught me to be a critical thinker and to understand the historical context of national and international events — my daily conversations with him led me to make a lifetime commitment to do whatever I can to change the world,” she added.

Rabbi Brous blessed L.A.’s new mayor for her ability to change the narrative of City politics and “whose own story is a redemption story.” Dr. Namazikhah called for vision and wisdom to guide the new mayor to make decisions that lead to peace in Los Angeles. Rev. Molina delivered a prayer alternating between Spanish and English in which he prayed for the safeguarding of Mayor Bass’ emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual states. 

Upbeat and soulful performances were scattered throughout the inauguration, including surprise performances by singer, songwriter, and actress Chloe Bailey and Grammy Award winning musical artist Stevie Wonder.

Amanda Gorman and Sophie Szew read their poems about change and female empowerment. Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, had also delivered a poem at the presidential inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.

The Hamilton High School Chamber Choir from her alma mater gave a performance that earned them a standing ovation. 

Mayor Karen Bass with 25 time Grammy Award winning musicial artist Stevie Wonder.
(Photo Credit: Bass for Mayor Campaign)

Director of UCLA Labor Center, Kent Wong, gave a speech in which he called Bass “my friend and my sister,” stressing his support of her faith in nonviolent organization, which helps “ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

California State Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins, the first woman to serve in that role, then took the podium praising the Bass for continuing to make history. 

Bass also took a moment to thank outgoing Mayor, Eric Garcetti for his work.

“Mayor Garcetti – thank you for your 21 years of service to our city. When we light the Olympic Torch in 2028, when we take public transit to the airport, when we go to bed in apartments safer from earthquakes, and when we breathe in cleaner air, Angelenos will be benefiting from your legacy.”

Garcetti and California Governor Gavin Newsom were among the numerous other dignitaries present on the stage for the ceremony today.

Finally, the new Mayor called upon the people of Los Angeles to join her in the fight to mend our city. 

“I call on the people of our city to not just dream of the L.A. we want, but to participate in making the dream come true. Please join me in this effort. A city where people are housed and tents are gone. A City where people are comfortable walking and shopping in all neighborhoods at all hours. A City where murals replace graffiti; A City where we lock arms with each other until we get the job done. That’s the reality we can build, Los Angeles. Let’s build it together. Thank you Los Angeles for the honor and the opportunity. Thank you.”


California Politics

Wiener introduces legislation to protect LGBTQ+ foster youth

SB 407 ensures LGBTQ foster youth are raised in supportive environments by creating standard documentation for their needs



Sen. Scott Wiener with 5th graders from San Diego County who came to Sacramento to advocate for SB 918, bill to direct more resources to help homeless youth in 2021 (Photo Credit: Wiener/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 407, legislation to improve foster care conditions for LGBTQ youth. Nearly one third of foster youth identify as LGBTQ.

SB 407 ensures LGBTQ foster youth are raised in supportive environments by creating standard documentation for their needs, adding more follow-up from the Department of Social Services, and requiring LGBTQ youth’s needs be specifically considered in at-home assessments – including clarifying that conduct that poses risk to the health and safety of LGBTQ youth is a valid reason to deny a family the right to host a foster youth. 

“Every child deserves to be one hundred percent supported at home,” said Wiener. “SB 407 ensures that foster youth receive this essential support by specifically requiring LGBTQ acceptance be considered in the resource family approval (RFA) process, creating standard documentation for the assessment of LGBTQ youth needs, and ensuring more frequent follow-up. These youth are at high risk for homelessness, criminal justice involvement, and mental health issues, and we must do everything in our power to ensure they have a safe home in the state of California.”

According to the California Child Welfare Indicators Project, there are 53,371 youth in foster care in California as of October 1, 2022. Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are overrepresented in foster care, with at least three studies estimating about 30 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ.

The degree of support for their identity an LGBTQ child receives at home is a strong predictor of their mental health outcomes. According to the Trevor Project, teens who perceived parental support regarding gender identity were 93% less likely to attempt suicide than youth who did not perceive parents as supportive.

Data collected since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic show LGBTQ youth are facing a crisis of mental health. Forty-two percent of LGBTQ+ youth—and 52 percent of trans youth—said they seriously considered suicide in 2021. This crisis may be related to the recent surge of anti-LGBTQ hatred in many states in recent years, which most LGBTQ youth are exposed to online. This year alone, more than 420 bills have been introduced in states across the country.

In 2019, California passed AB 175 (Gipson), which expanded the foster youth bill of rights to include rights to be referred to by the youth’s preferred name and pronoun and maintain privacy of the child’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Under existing law, foster youth also have the right to have caregivers and child welfare personnel that have received instruction on cultural competency and best practices for providing care for LGBTQ+ youth in out-of-home care. 

However, while the foster youth bill of rights is strong, it has not translated into the RFA process or into considerations made when approving caregivers. LGBTQ foster youth are still being placed in homes with families that discriminate against or are hostile toward them based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

SB 407 will strengthen the resource family approval (RFA) process for LGBTQ foster youth by:

  • Requiring explicit consideration of LGBTQ youth in home and environmental assessments; 
  • Creating standard documentation by the Department of Social Services for these assessments to include LGBTQ youth needs; 
  • Reviewing county-approved resource families to evaluate if they are meeting the needs of LGBTQ youth and investigating related incidents as needed;
  • Ensuring that resource families have the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to support LGBTQ youth; and 
  • Clarifying existing law that conduct that poses risk to the health and safety of LGBTQ youth is a valid reason for denial of a resource family. 

SB 407 is sponsored by Equality California and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services.

“According to the Trevor Project, teens who have parental support regarding their gender identity were 93% less likely to attempt suicide than youth who did not perceive parents as supportive. Supportive and affirming homes for LGBTQ+ foster youth saves lives. The CA Alliance is excited to partner with Senator Wiener on SB 407 to ensure that all LGBTQ+ foster youth have affirming families and feel safe, supported, and cared for.” –Christine Stoner-Mertz, CEO of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services

“LGBTQ+ foster youth experience violence and other stressors unique to the LGBTQ+ community, including homophobia or transphobia,” said Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California. “SB 407 protects LGBTQ+ foster youth from being placed in non-affirming homes by creating standard guidelines and criteria that carefully screens potential families. LGBTQ+ foster youth need a healthy environment that supports and embraces them as they explore their identity.”

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California Politics

Republican leader Gallagher introduces ‘outing’ bill in Sacramento

“Legislation ‘outing’ transgender students against their will does not protect them it puts them in potentially life-threatening danger”



Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R) meets with constituents (Photo Credit: Assemblymember James Gallagher/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) alongside Assemblymember Bill Essayli (Riverside) introduced legislation that would require that any teacher, counselor, or employee of a school notifies the parents of any student that identifies at school as a gender that does not align with their assigned birth gender.

The text of Assembly Bill 1314 reads:

Existing law authorizes a minor who is 12 years of age or older to consent to mental health treatment or counseling services, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if, in the opinion of the attending professional person, the minor is mature enough to participate intelligently in those services, or to outpatient mental health treatment or counseling services if the foregoing is true and the minor would present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to self or to others without the mental health treatment or counseling or residential shelter services, or is the alleged victim of incest or child abuse. Existing law requires the mental health treatment or counseling of a minor authorized by these provisions to include involvement of the minor’s parent or guardian unless, in the opinion of the professional person who is treating or counseling the minor, the involvement would be inappropriate.

This bill would, notwithstanding the consent provisions described above, provide that a parent or guardian has the right to be notified in writing within 3 days from the date any teacher, counselor, or employee of the school becomes aware that a pupil is identifying at school as a gender that does not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate, other official records, or sex assigned at birth, using sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, or using facilities that do not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate, other official records, or sex assigned at birth. The bill would state legislative intent related to these provisions. By imposing additional duties on public school officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Echoing arguments that have risen in state houses across the United States by Republicans, especially in Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas, Gallagher in a response to State Senator Scott Wiener who tweeted his outrage over the bill tweeted: “No Senator this bill simply stops an outrageous policy of transitioning kids at school in secret without their parents knowledge or consent.”

In a statement issued by his office, Assemblyman Essayli said, “This legislation seeks to protect parental rights, ensuring that parents know what is going on with their child at school, instead of having the teacher replace the parent in discussing important personal matters.” 

Essayli told media outlets that the legislation was specifically designed to assert the freedom of teachers to openly communicate with parents regarding their children’s gender transition decisions, and that it was based on a Jurupa Valley educator’s firing over her predisposition toward full disclosure.

In response to the introduction of the measure, the California Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus said in a statement released Monday afternoon:

“The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is united in ensuring that our children are protected and safe. But legislation that aims to ‘out’ transgender and non-binary students against their will does not protect them — it puts them in potentially life-threatening danger, subjecting them to trauma and violence. Additionally, the Trevor Project cites family conflict around youths’  LGBTQ identities as a driving factor contributing to LGBTQ youth homelessness. 

“Teachers should not be forced into the inappropriate position of revealing a student’s personal information about their gender identity with anyone. Data indicates that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth. Anyone putting forward a bill that would only increase those numbers is not seeking to protect children. Period.”

Equality California also issued a statement:

“We want LGBTQ+ students to feel safe talking to their parents about their gender and sexuality, but AB 1314 ignores the reality that not all trans youth have that option. Trans people are more likely to face family rejection and even abuse at home based on their gender identity, which leads to overrepresentation in foster care, juvenile detention and among unhoused youth. For many trans kids, school is the only place they feel safe to be their true, authentic selves. Forced ‘outing’ bills like AB 1314 seek to strip that sense of safety and dignity away.

“Conversations between children and their parents about gender identity should happen on their terms — at a time and place they feel is appropriate — not because politicians say so. We should be encouraging and supporting parents to have open and honest conversations with their children, not forcing teachers to serve as the school’s ‘gender police’, tracking down students using a different name or pronoun at school and outing them at home.”

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State Senator María Elena Durazo: Expand tenant protections

“The rising homelessness crisis has become one of the most urgent and humanitarian issues facing our state and communities”



State Senator María Elena Durazo speaking with press (Photo Credit: Office of State Senator María Elena Durazo/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO – State Senator María Elena Durazo, (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill this past Friday to address limiting the risk of homelessness in the Golden State by expanding the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019.

Senate Bill 567 (SB 567), the Homelessness Prevention Act, is set to give Californian renters greater housing stability and reduces the number of people  on the brink of homelessness. Currently the existing law provides tenant protection for renters, which includes limits on rent increases, unjust evictions and relocation fees for no-fault evictions.

Durazo’s bill will close loopholes that allow for rampant abuse of the no-fault just causes for eviction. The measure also calls for limiting allowable rent increases to a more reasonable cap while also providing mechanisms for accountability  and enforcement.

“The rising homelessness crisis has become one of the most urgent and humanitarian issues facing our state and communities; that’s why I’ve introduced the Homelessness Prevention Act of 2023,” Durazo said in a tweet.

In a fact sheet provided by the Senator’s office citing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state’s unhoused population has risen by 31% since 2010, which includes a  57% increase in people becoming unsheltered and living in the streets.

In a most recent count  of the state’s unhoused, there are more than  170,000 unsheltered Californians, accounting  for half of the U.S. unsheltered population. This does not include families living in substandard motel rooms or sleeping on floors  and couches.

About 30% of the nation’s homeless population resides in California, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, an independent research group. That means about 170,000 homeless people are in the Golden State.

Los Angeles has a homeless population of 69,144, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

As the measure is introduced, the dual laws which protected renters who were financially impacted due to the pandemic from evictions, the California COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act and the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act, are set to expire at the end of this month on March 31.

In 2020, the U.S. Government  Accountability Office found a $100 median rent  increase led to a 9% increase in homelessness.  Further, loopholes in existing law have led to  widespread abuses that leave people vulnerable to displacement or eviction, even when tenants are in compliance with the terms  of their lease.

These evictions and rent hikes  are directly contributing to homelessness. As  inflation soars and both state and local eviction  protections enacted during the pandemic come  to an end, gaps in standing tenant protections are impacting more renters facing significant  rent increases and “no-fault” evictions.

In a press release, Durazo’s office noted that government responses have primarily focused  on rehousing people, yet this has not led to a  decrease in homelessness numbers due to the  influx of newly homeless.

“While these efforts are needed, they should be complemented by  efforts to prevent people from becoming  homeless. While existing law provides for basic  protections from rent-gouging and unjust  evictions, loopholes in the law allow too many  tenants to remain unprotected from eviction,” the statement continued.

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California Politics

Inside California Politics speaks with former governor Jerry Brown

“The big international problems are not being addressed in a way that is maximizing our chance of avoiding disaster”



Nikki Laurenzo has a conversation with former Governor Jerry Brown at his Northern California ranch (Screenshot/YouTube Fox40 News)

COLUSA COUNTY, Calif. – Inside California Politics correspondent Nikki Laurenzo recently spent time with former Democratic Governor Jerry Brown on his Northern California ranch where the 84-year-old scion of a state progressive political family and the Golden State’s longest serving governor discussed his thoughts on global politics and the sharp divisions among Californians by either party or political identity.

Laurenzo’s report noted that specifically on relations with China and the war in Ukraine he stated:

“Yes, we have got some problems here in California, but the big international problems are not being addressed in a way that is maximizing our chance of avoiding disaster,” Brown said when asked about rising tension with China.

“I think we are flirting with danger, and I’m afraid there is a lot of people asleep at the switch,” he continued.

When pressed on the current state of political affairs in California, the former governor noted:

“Things have gotten tougher. The Republicans and Democrats get along less. (There is) more polarization, people identify more strongly with their belief. Whether it’s Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, they all hold on.”


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California Politics

Gov. Newsom: Calif. will not do business with Walgreens

20 Republican state attorneys general threatened to sue Walgreens for offering mifepristone



Gov. Gavin Newsom being briefed by the Office of Emergency Services, Monday March 7, 2023 (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) announced on Monday that California will not do business with Walgreens following the company’s announcement of its decision on Friday to not distribute the abortion pill mifepristone in 20 states.

The move comes amid pressure from conservative lawmakers and threats of legal action against Walgreens and CVS from 20 Republican state attorneys general, who claimed in a Feb. 1 press release that selling mifepristone is “unsafe and illegal.”

Mifepristone is still legal in several of the states where Walgreens has decided to stop providing it in response to the scepter of lawsuits from state attorneys general: Alaska, Iowa, Kansas and Montana.

Newsom’s office told NPR that California will review “all relationships between Walgreens and the state,” but declined to provide more specifics.

“California won’t be doing business with @walgreens – or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk,” Newsom wrote in the tweet. “We’re done.”

“Elected officials targeting pharmacies and their ability to provide women with access to safe, effective, and FDA-approved medication is dangerous and just unacceptable,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing on March 3.

“The administration will continue to stand by the FDA’s expert judgment in approving and regulating medications. And in the face of barriers to access and concerns about safety of patients, healthcare providers, and pharmacists, we will continue to support access to this critical medication within the limits of the law,” Jean-Pierre said.

Meanwhile, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas is expected to soon rule on a case challenging the safety of mifepristone that advocates for reproductive justice fear could lead to a nationwide injunction prohibiting the sale and distribution of the abortion drug.

Medical experts have slammed the Texas plaintiffs’ lawsuit, arguing that Mifepristone’s safety and efficacy have been well demonstrated for years. Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, is nevertheless expected to rule in their favor.

“The plaintiffs who have no legitimate standing have hand-picked him to hear this case that has no merit because they know what they’re getting with Judge Kacsmaryk,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said last month.

Jean-Pierre addressed the case during a press briefing on March 1: “The decision would be unprecedented, as you know, and devastating to women’s health.  And we may find ourselves in uncharted territory,” she said.

“And so, we’re closely — closely working with the Justice Department and DHS — HHS on this, on how to be prepared for any range of outcome or potential outcomes,” Jean-Pierre added.

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California Politics

House Republicans take aim at funding for Trans Latina Coalition

“This is about life or death. This is about supporting an individual who might not have that support network for whatever reason”



Bamby Salcedo, president of Trans Latina with Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) (Blade photo by Rob Salerno)

By Rob Salerno | LOS ANGELES – Republicans in Congress are attempting to chop approved funding for the Trans Latina Coalition, a community service organization in central Los Angeles, as part of what House Republicans are calling a bid to “Stop Woke-Waste.”

But the California Democrat who secured the $750,000 grant for Trans Latina says Democrats are standing up to protect much-needed funding for an underserved group.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) was able to secure funding for Trans Latina Coalition as a community funding grant during last year’s budget process. This was possible after Democrats brought back the earmark process that allows members of congress to direct funding to specific projects in their communities.

With Republicans having retaken control of the House of Representatives in January, they’re now attempting to cut back these already-committed funds.

Last month, House Budget Chairman Jodey C. Arrington (TX-19) put out a statement with a fairly short wish list of cuts that he dubbed “Stop Woke-Waste.” The cuts include the grant to Trans Latina Collective, plus $1.2 million earmarked for LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers in San Diego, and $1 million for a coworking space for women and gender-expansive people of color in Columbus, OH. 

“This is not a budget issue, it’s a straight up discrimination issue. They’re trying to use wokeism as a rallying cry for their base. If it were a budget issue, he’d have to cut almost two million programs of the same amount to have an impact on the national debt or deficit,” Gomez says. “It’s almost a concerted effort nationally by the Republicans to go after the trans community.”

Because the money has already been appropriated, in order for the Republicans to cancel the grant, they would have to pass legislation to do so, either as a standalone bill or through the budget process. 

Democrats control the Senate and the White House, so they have some power to prevent the cuts, but they will have to negotiate with Republicans to pass a budget this year.

“They can pass it in the House, but we’ve had conversations with Senator [Alex] Padilla’s [D-CA] office to stop it in the Senate,” Gomez says.

The grant was meant to improve Trans Latina’s work to support employment skills development for members of the trans community.

Bamby Salcedo, president of Trans Latina, says that skills development is vital for trans women, who frequently face severe discrimination in the workplace and consequently suffer disproportionate rates of poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity.

“What we proposed was to have individual case management. Essentially hand-to-hand support, providing training to people and connecting them to employment directly,” Salcedo says.

Bamby Salcedo, president of Trans Latina with Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) (Blade photo by Rob Salerno)

Salcedo says the funding would have supported at least 80 people over the course of a year. 

“Through that process, as they are being trained, we would provide them with rental assistance, food assistance and grocery cards,” she says.

Congressman Gomez says Trans Latina was one of 15 groups he selected from more than 300 applicants for community funding grants last year, because he’d seen the important work the group does in his district.

“When an individual in my district was attacked during the pandemic in 2020, [Bamby Salcedo and I] spoke on the phone, and I tried to provide as much assistance as possible. That’s when I started understanding the work Trans Latina does in the community,” he says. “We don’t need to look very hard to see patterns of discrimination against trans individuals.”

Gomez is blunt about the stakes of this money to the people who rely on Trans Latina’s services.

“This is about life or death. This is about supporting an individual who might not have that support network for whatever reason,” Gomez says.

Trans Latina Coalition was a vital lifeline for Victoria Perez, who became connected to the organization when she was incarcerated as a teenager. The organization helped her adjust to life upon release, including counselling and employment skills training. She’s now going to school where she studies culinary arts.

“I had an amazing case worker who worked with me and supported me weekly. Just somebody reaching out a hand and telling me I can do better, it really helped me to push forward,” she says.

Beyond skills training, Trans Latina gave Perez a network of trans friends and role models. 

“When I came here, just seeing everyone in a workspace, they’re professional women. It erases that stigma we have as trans women that to be successful you have to do sex work. This has completely changed the narrative. It’s very encouraging,” she says.

Trans Latina Coalition was founded in 2009 to serve and advocate for transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex immigrant women. It currently has representation in ten states and provides direct services to the TGI community in Los Angeles County.

The organization provides assistance with securing housing, employment, and health services, and provides meals for trans people in need. According to their own numbers, the organization serves around 3,000 individuals annually, with up to 5,000 visits per year.


Rob Salerno is a writer, journalist and actor based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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California Politics

Actor Ben Savage declares candidacy for Adam Schiff’s House seat

The seat is currently occupied by incumbent Rep. Adam Schiff who declared his candidacy to replace retiring U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein



Photo Credit: Ben Savage for Congress

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Actor Ben Savage, 42, whose most recent political foray was running for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council last year, declared Monday that he is running as a Democrat for California’s 30th Congressional District, which encompasses the Los Angeles neighborhoods of West Hollywood and Burbank.

The seat is currently occupied by longtime incumbent Democrat Adam Schiff who declared his candidacy to replace retiring U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein in the 2024 election races.

In a statement released by his campaign, Savage said:

“I am a proud Californian, union member and longtime resident of District 30 who comes from a family of unwavering service to our country and community.

I firmly believe in standing up for what is right, ensuring equality and expanding opportunities for all.

I’m running for Congress because it’s time to restore faith in government by offering reasonable, innovative and compassionate solutions to our country’s most pressing issues.

And it’s time for new and passionate leaders who can help move our country forward. Leaders who want to see the government operating at maximum capacity, unhindered by political divisions and special interests.”

Savage will be running against another declared candidate, Out West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne, who announced her run for Schiff’s seat two weeks ago on February 21, 2023.

Savage is a long term resident of West Hollywood having lived in the city for 18 years. In the 2022 City Council elections he was unable to garner enough votes to be elected.

Savage’s former campaign webpage in his run for city council last Fall (Screenshot/YouTube)
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California GOP ex-legislator with best LGBTQ rating seeks return

Her candidacy comes as most members of the Republican caucus in the Legislature continue to rack up dismal records on LGBTQ legislation



Former Assemblymember Suzette Valladares (R) (Photo: Courtesy Suzette Valladares)

By Matthew S. Bajko | SANTA CLARITA – A former Republican member of the California Assembly who had the best voting record in 2022 on LGBTQ bills among her GOP colleagues is vying to return to Sacramento next year. Her candidacy comes as most members of the Republican caucus in the Legislature continue to rack up dismal records on LGBTQ legislation.

Suzette Valladares, first elected in 2020 to a Southern California Assembly seat, lost her reelection bid last November in the 40th Assembly District. In one of the closest contests for a legislative seat last year, Democrat Pilar Schiavo won by a 522-vote margin.

Last Wednesday, Valladares formally launched her campaign for the 23rd state Senate District that covers portions of San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. It will be an open seat next year, as Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) is termed out of office.

He is supporting Valladares in her race against Democrat Kipp Mueller. The attorney had lost to Wilk in 2020, though he will face better odds next year due to the redrawn district now favoring Democrats.

(Because of the 2020 redistricting process, much of Wilk’s current 21st Senate District will be incorporated next year into the new boundaries of the 23rd district. The current holder of the Senate District 23 seat, Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, R-Yucaipa, will be up for reelection in 2024 to represent the newly drawn 19th Senate District.)

In announcing her candidacy to succeed Wilk, Valladares released a short video via her social media accounts in which she listed among her reasons for wanting to return to the Legislature a desire to “lower the cost of living” for Californians and “to end the homeless, drug trafficking and fentanyl crises that are linked hand in hand.”

A founder of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in the Legislature, Valladares received some of the highest scores on the legislative scorecard annually released by statewide advocacy organization Equality California compared to her GOP colleagues during her two-year term. Her score in 2021 was 70% out of 100 and was 60% in 2022.

In fact, Valladares earned the highest score last year of any of the Legislature’s 28 Republicans. And she was one of just three GOP legislators who earned a score of 50% or above. (EQCA uploaded its 2022 Legislative Scorecard to its website earlier this month and posted about it via its Twitter account on February 3.)

Valladares, who lives in Acton with her husband and daughter, did not respond to an interview request last week.

She received points from EQCA for voting in support of bills that ranged in focus from protecting the privacy of patients receiving reproductive services and prevention of sexually transmitted infections to LGBTQ cultural competency training for pharmacists and updating death certificates to honor the makeup of LGBTQ families. She also voted for bills that expanded a ban on deadnaming people at community colleges and aimed to educate incarcerated LGBTQ youth about their rights.

Valladares lost points for voting against a bill that ended the usage of loitering laws by police to arrest transgender women who engage in prostitution in order to make a living. She was also dinged for failing to cast votes on two bills related to reproductive issues.

Wilk, with a score of 20%, was among the 25 Republicans who received scores of 30% or less from EQCA. Former Assemblymember Dennis Kelly Seyarto, now a state senator from Murrieta, was the sole GOP legislator to earn a score of zero last year.

Scores improve for Democratic legislators

After double-digit numbers of Democratic legislators received imperfect scores from EQCA in 2021 and 2020, their caucus showed vast improvement last session in terms of voting to pass LGBTQ bills. On the 2022 scorecard, three assemblymembers and one senator all received 90% scores, with one assemblymember receiving 89%.

“Still, as we celebrate our legislative victories in Sacramento, we recognize that too many LGBTQ+ Californians still face hate, discrimination and even violence in their communities,” wrote EQCA Executive Director Tony Hoang in his message included with the scorecard. “Too many LGBTQ+ students still face bullying and harassment in our schools. And too many LGBTQ+ people across the country and around the world do not have the most basic civil rights protections.”

Every member of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus last year was among the 86 Democrats who received a perfect 100% score from EQCA. It was the first time since 2018 that all the members of the affinity group for out lawmakers had not lost points on an EQCA scorecard.

And after receiving a less-than-stellar score in 2021 due to vetoing a substance use treatment bill, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom scored a perfect 100% score on the 2022 EQCA scorecard. Newsom was able to do so despite having vetoed last September Senate Bill 1234, the STI Prevention & Treatment Fairness Act authored by then-senator Dr. Richard Pan, a Democrat termed out of his Sacramento seat last year. The legislation had sought to expand access to services for the prevention and treatment of STIs to income-eligible patients who have confidentiality concerns, including LGBTQ+ patients, through the state’s Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment program.

Because of its costing tens of millions of dollars to implement, Newsom refused to sign the bill into law because of state officials predicting budget deficits this year. In a note about its scoring of the governor last year, EQCA explained it had excused Newsom of the veto since the STI bill’s budget companion wasn’t advanced in the state budget.

Thus, it gave him a perfect score for signing the other 11 bills that made it to his desk that EQCA had co-sponsored last year and included in its scoring methodology. As for Pan, he was the senator who received the 90% score because he didn’t vote on the bill requiring LGBTQ cultural competency training for pharmacists.

Lawmakers who abstain from the final vote on a bill in their chamber, and do not have an excuse for doing so, are given an A by EQCA, which then scores them as if they had voted against the bill. Such was the case for why the four Democratic Assembly members lost points on last year’s scorecard.

Those lawmakers seeking reelection in 2024 who didn’t receive 100% on EQCA’s scorecards for the previous two years must now seek its endorsement ahead of the March primary. Only legislators who receive perfect scores in the two preceding years of their election, or are granted an excusal for why they didn’t vote on an LGBTQ bill, are automatically endorsed by EQCA.

Download the full 2022 Legislative Scorecard here.


Matthew S. Bajko is the Assistant Editor of The Bay Area Reporter

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

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California Politics

Rep. Barbara Lee announces campaign to replace Feinstein

“I’ve never backed down from doing what’s right… Californians deserve a strong, progressive leader who has delivered real change”



Rep Barbara Lee with President Biden at the White House December 2022 (Photo Credit: Lee/Facebook)

OAKLAND – Rep. Barbara Lee, who had filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission  signaling her intent to run for the U.S. Senate for the seat currently held by retiring Sen. Diane Feinstein last week, officially announced her candidacy Tuesday in a video released on Twitter.

Lee, who represents California’s 12th Congressional District in the East Bay across from San Francisco, wrote in the Twitter post:

“Today I am proud to announce my candidacy for U.S. Senate. I’ve never backed down from doing what’s right. And I never will. Californians deserve a strong, progressive leader who has delivered real change.”

The race to replace Feinstein already has two Democratic challengers, California U.S. Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff who had already announced their plans to run for the seat before Feinstein’s announcement last week that she would not be running for reelection.

Lee has been representing California’s 12th District (formerly 13th) since 1998. She is the highest ranking African American woman appointed to Democratic Leadership, serving as Co-Chair of the Policy and Steering Committee. She also serves on the Budget Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending.

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California Politics

Barbara Lee has filed paperwork for 2024 race to replace Feinstein

The race to replace Feinstein already has two Calif. Democratic challengers, U.S. Reps. Katie Porter & Adam Schiff who had already announced



Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) with Vice-President Kamala Harris October 2022 (Photo Credit: Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee)

OAKLAND – Rep. Barbara Lee who represents California’s 12th Congressional District in the East Bay across from San Francisco filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission Wednesday signaling her intent to run for the U.S. Senate for the seat currently held by retiring Sen. Diane Feinstein.

Lee has not announced her intention to run although Katie Merrill, a political consultant for the congresswoman said in a statement; “the campaign is taking the necessary steps to prepare. The Congresswoman will have more to say about this before the end of the month.”

The race to replace Feinstein already has two Democratic challengers, California U.S. Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff who had already announced their plans to run for the seat before Feinstein’s announcement Tuesday that she would not be running for reelection.

Lee tweeted a statement of appreciation and gratitude acknowledging Feinstein’s senatorial service:

Lee has been representing California’s 12th District (formerly 13th) since 1998. She is the highest ranking African American woman appointed to Democratic Leadership, serving as Co-Chair of the Policy and Steering Committee. She also serves on the Budget Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending.

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