As the newly-elected member of the California State Assembly representing the 78th Assembly District, which includes the coastal cities of Coronado, Del Mar, Imperial Beach, Solana Beach, and the central communities of the City of San Diego, I am honored to celebrate Pride here at home in San Diego County and across the State of California.
As an openly gay elected official in our state Legislature, I am proud to advocate and advance issues that directly affect LGBTQ+ Californians and further the goal of real equality. This past year has shown the strength and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community in California. However, there is undeniably more work needed to ensure equal rights for all, as the rise in hate crimes and wave of new anti-LGBTQ legislation across the country prove.
These past few months have been a busy period at the State Capitol with hundreds of bills being debated and moving through the legislative process. In June, I was honored to be appointed to the position of Majority Whip by the Speaker of the Assembly. In this new leadership role, I have the responsibility of ensuring my colleagues are present and voting to pass legislation. After months of ongoing hard work, it would be a huge disappointment and setback to have critical legislation stall on the floor without the needed votes to move them forward.
Due to these efforts, policies to address housing and homelessness, climate action, and education – along with priority LGBTQ+ legislation – are moving forward. This includes my own bill, AB-218, which will help protect the privacy of transgender people and prevent discrimination when a transgender person enrolls their child in school, applies for a loan, or seeks to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated spouse.
Other priority LGBTQ+ legislation includes:
AB-746 (Cervantes) – Adoption: stepparent adoption
Addresses the challenges and barriers in the adoption process for LGBTQ+ families, including, but not limited to, challenges and barriers in stepparent adoptions. There is room to improve adoption laws to ensure parity in the adoption process.
AB-789 (Low) – Health care facilities
Requires health facilities and clinics that provide outpatient primary care services to offer screening tests and follow up care for positive hepatitis B and hepatitis C patients.
AB-1084 (Low) – Gender neutral retail departments
Requires a retail department store with 500 or more employees that sells childcare items, children’s clothing, or toys, to maintain a gender-neutral section or area, to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer.
SB-225 (Wiener) – Medical procedures: individuals born with variations in their physical sex characteristics
Would prohibit physicians and surgeons from performing certain sex organ modification procedures on an individual born with variations in their physical sex characteristics who is under 12 years of age unless the procedure is a surgery required to address an immediate risk of physical harm.
SB-258 (Laird) – Aging with dignity
Adds human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status to the list of noneconomic factors that determine “greatest social need” for services under the Older Californians Act (OCA), and make California one of the first states in the nation to ensure HIV positive older adults have access to vital programs and services so they can age in place with dignity.
SB-357 (Wiener) – Crimes: loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense
Repeals discriminatory loitering law that largely targets trans women.
To learn more about any of these important pieces of legislation, or to search for other topics of interest, search here:
Additionally, the recently enacted budget was historic and transformational, and it will have lasting impacts on all Californians. Last year demanded enormous sacrifices from us all and, given the exceptional budget surplus, it was time to make significant, responsible investments that allow all California communities to move forward together.
I took great pride in my first vote for the state budget. We were able to prioritize students, address and alleviate homelessness through affordable housing and anti-poverty programs, expand public health resources, address drought and wildfire threats, and advance physical infrastructure and climate resiliency projects. In addition to statewide programs, a number of local projects were funded, including $8.4 million and $3.7 million to the City of San Diego for the Ocean Beach Pier and Casa del Prado renovations respectively, and many LGBTQ+ priority funding requests were fulfilled. The following is just a short list of some of the LGBTQ+ items funded in the state budget.
EQCA – Teacher Training
Funding to promote the creation of an online cultural competency and anti-bullying training, as well as community resources, for the support of LGBTQ+ pupils and strategies to increase support for LGBTQ+ pupils, which is critical to improving overall school climates. (One-time Prop 98 General Fund cost of $3 million.)
LGBTQ Community College Pilot Program
Appropriation of funds to launch a pilot project for LGBTQ+ community college students. LGBTQ+ students seeking higher education were heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will allow California to increase enrollment and retention of LGBTQ+ students statewide. (One-time Prop 98 General Fund cost of $10 million.)
Ending the Epidemics
An allocation of funding to address California’s ongoing HIV, hepatitis C (HCV), and sexually transmitted disease (STD) epidemics. (General Fund cost of $19 million; $6 million one-time investment and $13 million ongoing.)
Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund
Appropriation of funds supporting transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGI) communities. (Ongoing General Fund cost of $15 million.)
Hate Crime Security Grant Program
An allocation of funds for the California State Nonprofit Security Grant Program which is administered by the Office of Emergency Services (OES) to protect our most vulnerable communities and provide critical security assistance to nonprofit organizations that are at risk of hate-motivated violence. (One-time General Fund cost of $50 million.)
Safeguarding LGBTQ+ History
An allocation of funds for the preservation and public accessibility of LGBTQ historical archives across the State of California. (One-time General Fund cost of $750,000.)
Preservation of the Arts
Funding to assist the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts’ opening in a manner that is centered on public safety. (One-time General Fund cost of $1.7 million.)
To find information on the budget priorities above and to access the entire 2021-22 State budget, visit http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/.
Thank you for the honor and privilege to serve you in the California State Assembly. I am grateful for your confidence and ready for the hard work ahead. The 78th Assembly District has a long history of bold, progressive, independent leadership and I plan to carry this forward. My public service career has been spent fighting homelessness and climate change, investing in job creation and working to support small businesses. Together, we can rebuild our economy with jobs that prioritize health and safety for all. And, as we recognize Pride month, let us continue to celebrate the vibrant and diverse community so many have fought to create, and honor the lives of the LGBTQ+ heroes we have lost in the past year.
If you have any questions regarding the LGBTQ+ priorities outlined above, or for assistance with any state-related issues, contact my District Office during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, at (619) 645-3090. To reach my office by email, contact: https://a78.asmdc.org/contact.