10% of California Legislature Identifies as LGBTQ – Pasadena Star News – Update Cali

Author: Don Thompson

SACRAMENTO — While LGBTQ candidates and their supporters celebrated several landmark victories across the country in this year’s midterm elections, California quietly achieved its own: At least 10% of its state lawmakers publicly identify as LGBTQ, believed to be a first in any U.S. legislature .

California lawmakers, all Democrats, are proud of their success, but say it underscores the hard work that remains in their own state and elsewhere, such as dealing with the fallout from measures like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which some forbids. lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity, or laws in other states restricting the participation of transgender students in sports or blocking gender-affirming medical care for youth.

The milestone was further overshadowed by the Saturday night shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado that killed five people and injured many others. The suspect was charged with murder and hate crimes. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who just won a second term in office, was the first openly gay state governor when he won in 2018.

“We’re on two tracks when it comes to LGBTQ people: One track is that we’re winning socially. People in general are totally comfortable with LGBTQ people, they support us, they accept us and they are willing to vote for LGBTQ candidates,” said California State Sen. Scott Wiener, a member of the LGBTQ Caucus, on Monday.

Still, he said: “Despite the fact that we are winning the battle in society as a whole, you have a very vocal, dangerous minority of extremists who are consistently attacking and demonizing our community.”

At least 519 LGBTQ candidates have won elected office this year, in positions ranging from school board to Congress and governor, LGBTQ Victory Fund press secretary Albert Fujii said. That’s a record since 2020, when 336 LGBTQ candidates won, according to the group, which along with Equality California calculated that California is the first state to break the 10% mark.

Of the 12 current or soon-to-be members of the California Legislature, eight were already part of its LGBTQ Caucus, including the Senate leader and three other senators whose terms run through 2024. Four current LGBTQ Assembly members won re-election in November. 8, which was joined by two new members of the House of Representatives and two new senators, increasing the number of committee members by 50%. The AP has yet to call the one remaining race that could add another LGBTQ lawmaker.

Lawmakers to be sworn in for new term Dec. 5; there are a total of 120 legislators between the two chambers.

The U.S. Census found that 9.1% of Californians identify as LGBT — compared to 7.9% nationwide — so the Legislature will roughly achieve parity in sexual orientation and gender identity. Meanwhile, the Legislature has yet to achieve gender or race and ethnicity equality, according to statistics from the California State Library.

New Hampshire and Vermont each have more LGBTQ legislators, according to the institute, but their legislatures are larger than California’s and thus fall short of the 10% threshold.

The 2022 election is a landscape of firsts for LGBTQ people, including Corey Jackson, the first gay black man in the California Legislature, who noted that African-Americans — especially black trans people — are particularly marginalized.

“I think it’s an opportunity to say, number one, we’re here, we have something to contribute and we can lead and represent the best of them,” said Jackson, a Riverside County school board member.

Alaska and South Dakota elected their first LGBTQ lawmakers, and Montana and Minnesota elected their first transgender lawmakers, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In New Hampshire, Democrat James Roesener, 26, became the first trans man elected to any US state legislature.

He said he was motivated to run for a state law that would have required schools to inform parents about their children’s gender identity development and expression, narrowly failing. Opponents of such requirements say they invade children’s privacy and can put them at risk of abuse at home.

Leigh Finke, who was elected in Minnesota, was also fueled by growing anti-transgender rhetoric.

Finke hopes to ban so-called conversion therapy in Minnesota and, like California, make the state a haven for children and their parents who can’t access gender-affirming health care elsewhere.

“I just thought it couldn’t last. We need to have trans people in these rooms. If we are going to lose our rights, they have to at least look us in the eye when they do it,” she said. Massachusetts and Oregon elected the nation’s first lesbian governors.

Charlotte Perri, a 23-year-old get-out-the-vote organizer in Portland, Ore., said she received an emotional account from Gov.-elect Tina Kotek at a campaign event about young people thanking her for running.

“It’s hard to feel optimistic as a young queer person with everything that’s going on,” Perri said.

Although newly elected LGBTQ officials are overwhelmingly Democrats, at least one gay Republican — George Santos, a supporter of former President Donald Trump — won a US House seat in New York by defeating another gay Democrat.

The rise of LGBTQ lawmakers contrasts with efforts in some states led by members of Santos’ party to limit the influence, visibility and rights of LGBTQ people.

In Tennessee, leaders of the state’s Republican legislative supermajority said the first bill of the 2023 session would seek to ban gender-affirming care for minors. Tennessee has one LGTBQ legislator, Democratic Rep. Torrey Harris.

The state has already banned transgender athletes from all-girls high schools and colleges and restricted which bathrooms transgender students and staff can use.

The Human Rights Campaign tracked what it identified as anti-LGTBQ laws introduced in 23 states this year and said they became law in 13: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota , Tennessee. , Utah and Louisiana.

In contrast, “as California’s LGBTQ Legislative Caucus has grown, the state has led the nation in passing groundbreaking legislation to protect LGBTQ+ civil rights,” said Equality California spokesman Samuel Garrett-Pate.

Wiener introduced California’s transgender youth sanctuary law, which has been copied by Democratic lawmakers in other states. He and another assemblyman teamed up in 2019 to expand access to HIV prevention drugs. Other laws championed by LGBTQ lawmakers over the years have granted foster children rights to gender-affirming care and allowed non-binary gender markers for state identification.

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