Jack believes that the transgender community is the most marginalized community in America, and that only with acceptance and understanding can society overcome its fear of the transgender community….
Equality California Issues Statement on Boys Scouts of America’s Proposal to Lift Gay Scout Ban for Youth - Equality California
Today the Boy Scouts of America announced a proposal to lift its ban on gay youth, while continuing to hold its ban on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adult leaders. The decision will still need to be ratified by a vote of BSA’s National Council. In response, Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor issued the following statement:
"As we are for full equality and nothing less, the proposed Boy Scout policy change is alarmingly inadequate. Equality California is sponsoring Sen. Ricardo Lara’s Youth Equality Act, which eliminates special tax exemptions for any youth organization in California that discriminates — not just the BSA — now or in the future, against adults as well as youth in those organizations. This bill remains relevant regardless of what the Boy Scouts decide.”
It’s official. Equality California has announced that opponents of FAIR Education Act (a.k.a. Bill SB48) failed to get enough signatures to bring the LGBT-inclusive law to a vote.
Joe.My.God posted a message from StopSB48.com headquarters:
We Fought the Law and the Law Won
Unfortunately we did not collect enough signatures to qualify the referendum to overturn SB48. That law will be in place in our schools at the first of next year. We thank all of you that worked so hard to provide the hundreds of thousands of signatures received. In the end, 90 days was too short a time to accomplish such a large task. In the coming days you will see the celebration of our opponents. We know this because it has already started in social media and other places. And some of the rhetoric will be harsh. Remember, despite what they say about us, we opposed SB 48 simply because we do not believe that children should be exposed to an intentionally one-sided argument about lifestyles and values we do not hold.
- Equality California’s press release about Roland Palencia announces in its first sentence that he has “extensive experience in leading and managing multimillion-dollar non-profit organizations”
- He was Community Benefits Director for the $1.2 billion L.A. Care Health Plan; Regional Director for the California Endowment, a private foundation that annually grants more than $170 million; and and an advisor to the multi-billion dollar Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.
- His Facebook interests include “Prosecute Sarah Palin for Incitement!”
- He was the chief of operations and vice president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has a budget of over $100 million; and Executive Director at Clinica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero, which primarily serves Central American and Mexican immigrants.
- His father, a small business owner and a revolutionary, was assassinated by paramilitary forces in Guatemala in the mid-70s. Palencia was forced to leave the country.
- His first day at Equality California is July 5.
Click the link above to fill out the form to let your legislators know that you oppose SB 5.
Far right-wing California Senator Tom Harman, a cohort of the Yes on 8 campaign, has introduced a bill that would compel the Attorney General to defend all ballot measures that get challenged in court, including Proposition 8. SB 5 would also authorize the groups that place measures on the ballot to defend their measures in court, a right that has been reserved for the state once a measure becomes a law. Help us stop them. Let’s say ‘NO’ to Yes on 8.
Democrat Jerry Brown was sworn in as California’s 39th governor on Monday inside Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. Brown was governor from 1975-1983, during another economically difficult time in the state and country.
Since winning the Nov. 2 election against Republican millionaire Meg Whitman, Brown has been frank about the austerity measures necessary to deal with a projected $28 billion deficit through June 2012. In his inaugural speech (see video below), he called for lawmakers to “rise above ideology” and warned that the state faces a year that “will demand courage and sacrifice.”
On Tuesday, Brown’s first full day in office, the Los Angeles Times reports that Brown “walked right up to the third rail of California politics” – referring to Proposition 13, which places limits on property taxes. Prop “13 started the centralization of power,” Brown told reporters. “After that, the state started dictating what we did.”
Geoff Kors, Executive Director of Equality California, attended the inauguration ceremonies for Brown and others, including newly sworn in Attorney General Kamala Harris. Here’s his comment:
“Despite difficult economic times, Sacramento was filled with hope and promise as our new Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner and Superindented of Public Instruction were sworn into office. For the first time in our state’s history, every statewide constitutional office holder supports full equality for the entire LGBT community.
While the highlight was watching Kamala Harris take the oath of office and listening to her speech about fundamental change in the criminal justice system and her references to the LGBT community and marriage equality, the swearing in of Brown and his realistic yet optiminst remarks about fixing California’s broken economy set the tone for what will be a challenging year.
With [Dave] Jones and [Tom] Torlakson, we have two proven supporters of LGBT equality. We are already working with both on advancing the rights of LGBT people. In fact, Torlakson has already signed on to be the co-sponsor along with Equality California of Assemblyman Tom Ammaino’s anti-bullying bill that was introduced last month. With such strong and proven pro-equality leaders now in office we have an unprecedented opportunity to advance equality and improve the lives of LGBT Californians.
Today, Equality California Institute Board Member Betty Yee will be sworn in for a second term on the California Board of Equalization and founding board member VIcky Kolowkowski will be sworn in as the nation’s first transgender judge. What a terrific way to start the new year.
This is cross-posted from a story I broke on Frontiers’ website. I am working on an in-depth story to place Kors into historical context.
Equality California’s Geoff Kors Resigns: A ‘Good Time to Leave’
After nine years at the state’s largest LGBT advocacy and lobbying organization, Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors announced Friday morning that he will step down from his position on March 31, 2011. Kors will stay with EQCA until then to help the board select his replacement and “to ensure an orderly transition” to the next executive director.
“For me, after nine years,” Kors told Frontiers, “it seems like a good time to leave since we just had our most successful legislative session in the history not just of Equality California but of any LGBT group in the nation—having passed 25 pieces of legislation through the legislature in the 2009-2010 session.”
Equality California has grown from a six-figure debt in 2002 (in its previous incarnation as CAPE) to a net asset of $1.5 million today; from a staff of two to a staff of 20; a board of nine members to over 50; and the second largest number of members and donors of any LGBT organization in the nation. “We’re in a really strong position today,” Kors said.
Kors also noted that EQCA worked hard to get pro-equality candidates elected—and for the first time in history, every statewide elected official supports full equality for LGBT people. Among the politicians grateful for EQCA’s help is the next governor of California.
“I want to personally extend my gratitude to Equality California and to Geoff Kors who has done so much to advance equality and justice in our state and who was instrumental in mobilizing LGBT Californians to support my candidacy for governor,” said Governor-elect Jerry Brown in a statement. “When I take office, I look forward to continuing my partnership with Equality California as I work to meet the many challenges our state faces.”
Under Kors’ leadership, Equality California, working in partnership with the LGBT legislative caucus, allied legislators and coalition partners, enacted more than 70 pieces of pro-LGBT legislation—more than any similar advocacy organization in the country.
California passed groundbreaking legislation during Kors’ tenure, from the first comprehensive domestic partnership legislation passed without court order in 2003 to the first marriage equality bills in 2005 and 2007—both vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. Kors also successfully fought to pass the broadest transgender protections in the nation and legislation making California the only state in the country to prohibit insurance discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as legislation to protect LGBT youth and seniors.
“Speaking for our board of directors, Equality California is deeply grateful to Geoff for his years of steadfast service to the LGBT community and to our mission,” said Cary Davidson, Equality California Board Chair. “Geoff took the organization from infancy to maturity with his trailblazing leadership and tireless commitment, which have helped make California a leader in the fight for LGBT equality in America. We know his shoes are tough to fill.”
A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area for The New York Times. To join the conversation about this article, go to baycitizen.org.
The results of two statewide races on Tuesday — governor and attorney general — could affect the pending court appeal over the constitutionality of the referendum. But there appears to be little passion exhibited by either side on the issue.
In the gay and lesbian community, which arguably has the most at stake, “there’s no doubt there’s less enthusiasm,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, the organization that campaigned against Proposition 8.
Meg Whitman and Steve Cooley, Republican candidates for governor and attorney general, respectively, have pledged that if elected they will defend Proposition 8 in the current case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The state currently does not defend the measure, a silence that many perceive as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
Intervention would be an “unprecedented situation,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine. “We don’t know what would happen if a new governor or attorney general tried to intervene,” he said.
The December appeals hearing could face a lengthy delay, or an argument could be made for a new trial, with the state reversing its stance and supporting the marriage ban.
Rory Little, professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, said that a new trial would be unlikely, but that the judges would carefully consider the motion. “The court will take this very seriously,” Mr. Little said.
With the election possibly affecting such a hard-fought legal victory, gay men and lesbians should be motivated to vote, but they might not be aware of the stakes, according to political analysts. The apathy could also be due to the traditional drop in political fervor during nonpresidential election years, although another feeling is also fueling the ambivalence: betrayal.
“People are justifiably frustrated and angry about the lack of progress on key equality issues in the past two years in Washington,” Mr. Kors said.
It is a case of been there, done that, but never got the promised T-shirt.
There has been disappointment with President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress — which received widespread support from gay and lesbian voters — over matters like a bill to prevent employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and elimination of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Both issues have failed to win approval in Washington, and this month the Obama Justice Department instead decided to fight a judge’s ruling that would have overturned the military policy.
Rebecca Prozan, a candidate for District 8 supervisor in San Francisco and an organizer for Mr. Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, has heard gay voters’ complaints that the president has failed to keep his promises. “I take a lot of heat for that,” Ms. Prozan said. “The level of expectation was so high.”
She said that although change had been slow on some issues, gay men and lesbians had made progress during the Obama administration, with expanded federal benefits for same-sex couples and the lifting of the bar to H.I.V.-positive foreign visitors.
Indeed, Ms. Prozan’s own race is indicative of evolving gay politics: all four candidates on the ballot are openly gay (the others are Bill Hemenger, Rafael Mandelman and Scott Wiener).
On Tuesday night, volunteers manned the phones at Equality California’s offices in an effort to get out the vote next week. Darius Kemp, the phone bank organizer, said he had to remind voters that “change doesn’t happen overnight.”
Exit polling has shown that 5 percent of California voters identify themselves as gay, according to Eric Jaye, founder of Storefront Political Media, a consulting firm. “These are very close races,” Mr. Jaye said, “and 5 percent certainly could make a difference.”
Mr. Kors said gay and lesbian voters needed to look beyond disillusionment with Washington and understand that this election is about local politics. He said the next governor would have a strong voice if same-sex marriage was put up for a vote again in 2012, and he said that measures recently passed in Sacramento — including a holiday in honor of Harvey Milk, the slain gay rights leader, and a bill to help prevent gay teen suicides — could not have overcome a governor’s veto.
“There’s so much at stake right here in California,” Mr. Kors said.
A volunteer for a nonprofit that works for legal protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered returned to her Santa Ana office Thursday night to find a noose hanging from the doorknob.From EQCA Facebook pageA string? Really!?!
But Mel Distel, 25, of Huntington Beach, was almost more frightened by the attitude displayed by Santa Ana police officers who responded to what she considered a hate crime against Equality California (EQCA).
On EQCA’s Facebook page, Distel relates the conversation she and EQCA’s Daniel Shad had with two cops.Photo by Jennie WarrenDaniel Shad
"There was nothing they could do, of course, there was no suspect and no crime had been committed. The officer said ‘what it is, is a string on a door.’ My vision got blurry, I was embarrased and felt stupid for making the call. I took a deep breath and said ‘Do you see any correlation between the fact that this is a gay office and there was a noose left on our door in the wake of all of these teen suicides?’ The officer said, ‘Sometimes you just have to live with being a victim,’ and proceeded to mention that his car had been broken into before."
That didn’t exactly sit well with Distel.
"As if that’s the same. As if having your stereo stolen is anything like the message ‘You should kill yourself.’ As if random theft is anything like an act meant to convey hate and stir up fear in the heart of a minority group."
Shad was more succinct about the cop’s attitude on his own Facebook page:
"Not cool dude. Not cool."
Writing about the incident on the Liberal OC, Chris Prevatt shared the description of a hate crime as stated in California Penal Code section 422.55.
The cited examples—“painting racist, homophobic and/or religious graffiti on private property; burning a cross on an individual’s lawn; an assault; a criminal threat of violence against an individual or group; attempted murder or murder”—seem to indicate a suspected hate crime case could be made from a noose left on an LGBT rights group’s doorknob.
GetEQUAL, One Struggle One Fight, Pride at Work Rally, Equality California and the SF LGBT Center Close Down Market and Castro St. Targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “Pelosi: When Jobs are Lost, the Market Stops”
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, GetEQUAL, a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization; One Struggle One Fight, an LGBT and allied civil disobedience organization; Pride at Work, an officially-recognized, LGBT constituency group of the AFL-CIO; Equality California, a California-based LGBT equality organization and the SF LGBT Center first rallied at Harvey Milk Plaza and then proceeded to shut-down Market and Castro Street in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home district of San Francisco. The act of non-violent, civil disobedience was the second protest this week targeting House Democratic Leaders to make good on their promise to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would protect LGBT workers from discriminatory employment practices. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees can be fired from their jobs in 29 states, and transgender or gender-nonconforming employees can be fired in 38 states.
At 5:00 pm (PST) a group of LGBT and allied advocates gathered in the historic Harvey Milk Plaza to remind Speaker Pelosi that they are making good on her July 24, 2010, speech at Netroots Nation, telling progressive activists that she wanted to pass ENDA but asked them to “build the mass to make me do it.” At 5:30 pm (PST), after the rally, advocates marched from Harvey Milk Plaza to the corner of Market and Castro Street – in the heart of Speaker Pelosi’s San Francisco Congressional District – where they unfurled a banner across the street, blocking traffic, that read, “Pelosi: When Jobs are Lost, the Market Stops.”
“Why is the Speaker of the House, who hails from the gayest city in America, blocking legislation that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers from workplace discrimination? Every day we live without the passage of ENDA is another day Congress turns a blind eye to discrimination against the LGBT community,” said Gabriel Haaland, spokesperson for Pride at Work and city-wide elected DCCC Committee Member. “Most LGBT workers have no protections from workplace discrimination. ENDA would provide legal protection against discrimination nationally. Speaker Pelosi has repeatedly promised to schedule a vote on ENDA, but has yet to fulfill those promises. The time to pass ENDA is now. The overwhelming majority of Americans support it; the politicians promised it. No more broken promises. We demand that Speaker Pelosi stop blocking ENDA and schedule a vote, now.”
“We pay taxes, contribute to the economy, and create American-paid jobs that provide products and services world-wide. Yet we continue to be treated unequal and Speaker Pelosi has the power to bring us one step closer to being fully-protected American citizens – and workers,” said Dan Fotou, a California GetEQUAL supporter and participant in today’s rally. “As Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress are out campaigning to keep their jobs, they should know we have every intent of continuing our campaign to keep our jobs, too. Speaker Pelosi has said that ‘our impatience is justified’ – but what isn’t justified is the unfulfilled promises she continues to make to the LGBT community. It’s time for Speaker Pelosi to do the right thing and schedule an immediate vote on ENDA.”
“GetEQUAL has promised that, as long as people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, we will not stop standing up for those LGBT workers in dozens of states across this country without a voice, without any job security,” said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL. “With the launch of our ‘ENDA Summer’ campaign, we told politicians that while they are back home campaigning to save their jobs, we intend on reminding them that their employment isn’t the only one on the line. Millions of LGBT workers punch a clock every single day unsure if today’s timecard could turn into tomorrow’s discriminatory pink slip. The time to pass ENDA is now.”
The clock is ticking and the promise to pass ENDA in the house with enough time to pass it in the Senate and have it signed by President is slipping away. It is imperative that ENDA pass and be signed into law this year. Every day that job discrimination remains legal anywhere in our nation is another day an LGBT person is at risk for losing their job for no reason other than their sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination is un-American and the time for excuses for not passing this law have long passed,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California.
Today’s ENDA action targeting Speaker Pelosi builds on prior actions, including one earlier this week that targeted House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Rep. George Miller (D-CA) at a Wednesday campaign debate. In addition to the two actions this week, GetEQUAL has organized or co-organized sit-ins in Speaker Pelosi’s offices in March of this year, various rallies at the Speaker’s district office in San Francisco, non-violent acts of civil disobedience in July in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda that targeted Speaker Pelosi, and the shut-down of Las Vegas Boulevard, targeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
On July 14, GetEQUAL sent out a national email to its members and supporters asking who their next set of ENDA direct actions should target. Speaker Pelosi received the highest number of responses. That email and survey can be viewed in full at: http://getequal.org/2010/07/fight-back-against-the-broken-promises/. Also in July, GetEQUAL released a timeline showing years of broken promises and excuses from elected officials that have led to the stalling of any federal protections being in place for LGBT workers. In the timeline, Speaker Pelosi is quoted numerous times promising that a vote on ENDA “will be soon.” The timeline is available at www.getequal.org/endatimeline <http://www.getequal.org/endatimeline>.
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit: http://www.getequal.org <http://www.getequal.org/>. You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/getequal, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GetEQUAL, or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/getequal.
This week, the California State Senate voted 22-12 to approve joint resolution (AJR 19), which urges the President and the U.S. Congress to immediately repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
DOMA was enacted as law during the Bush administration to prevent the the federal government or any of its agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages that are legally binding in states that have ended marriage discrimination.
Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors stated:
“The Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing the relationships of loving same-sex couples, even when the states where they live recognize their relationships. We’re proud of the California legislature for making the state’s opposition to DOMA official state policy. Now we must overturn this discriminatory federal law and pave the way for the marriages of same-sex couples to be recognized at the federal level.”
Will D.C. listen? Perhaps we first need to repeal Prop 8 for good in California and get other states to pass similar resolutions.
In other LGBT news from California, the California State Senate has passed the Unemployment Benefits Act (AB 2055) by a vote of 23-11 vote. The bill give same-sex couples in California legal access to unemployment benefits. The bill will now go back to the state Assembly floor for a procedural concurrence vote, where if passed, will be presented to the governor to be signed into law.
No on 8, Equality for All, which ran the campaign against Proposition 8 in California, has taken the unusual step of releasing the data that shows what polling on the anti-gay ballot measure looked like in 2008.
According to the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, the extensive data release is part of the winding down of the organization. Equality for All announced its formal dissolution plans Monday, which include leaving Equality California to manage any remaining assets, the data being primary among them.
Equality California offers PDFs of the data, saying, “This data tracks voters position on Proposition 8, influential messages and messengers, and impact on voters from various messages. No on 8, Equality for All, which is now disbanded, has taken the unprecedented step of making this data public to provide the community and our allies with as much information as possible, and so we can learn as much as possible from the data.”