Los Angeles — Equality California today announced the results of its 2016 electoral effort, marked by a deeply saddening and disappointing loss at the presidential level but by victories of at least 107 of its 137 endorsed candidates at the federal, state and local levels, with nine races still too close to call.
“Today more than ever, we must not lose hope,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “We must continue to fight for for inclusion, acceptance, respect and for full equality for LGBT people in California and across the country. Despite the very disappointing result of the presidential election, there are elements of hope in the results of the election in California. Those include the victory of a pro-equality U.S. senator, Kamala Harris, and the apparent election of four exceptional LGBT leaders to the state legislature, State Senators-Elect Toni Atkins and Scott Wiener and Assemblymembers-Elect Sabrina Cervantes and Todd Gloria. While our LGBT allies are indispensable, there is no substitute for having representatives with authentic, lived LGBT experience in the state legislature. The rapid advances in LGBT civil rights over the past few decades clearly illustrate the crucial importance of ‘having a seat at the table.’”
The apparent election of Wiener to Senate District (SD) 11 and of Cervantes to Assembly District (AD) 60 – both in highly competitive races — were among Equality California’s highest electoral priorities. Wiener looks to have prevailed over fellow San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim with 53 percent of the vote to represent the district with the state’s largest number of LGBT residents and voters. SD 11 has been represented by an LGBT person since 2004. Cervantes appears to have won a hard-fought race against opponent Eric Linder with 52 percent of the vote. Equality California conducted substantial independent expenditure campaigns in both races. In San Diego, State Senator-Elect Toni Atkins (SD 39) and Assemblymember-Elect Todd Gloria (AD 78) will also add to the strength of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus, handily beating their opponents in both races.
Endorsed candidate California Attorney General Kamala Harris was elected to represent California in the U.S. Senate. Harris has been a powerful voice for LGBT civil rights since first taking office as San Francisco district attorney, where she established an LGBT hate crimes unit and abolished so-called “panic defenses” in criminal trials. As California attorney general, Harris refused to defend Proposition 8 in court or to certify the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act,” an initiative that would have legalized the killing of gay men, for the ballot.
Openly gay endorsed candidate U.S. Representative Mark Takano was reelected to represent Congressional District (CD) 41.
Four openly-LGBT Equality California-endorsed candidates appear to have won election to the California Senate. In addition to Wiener and Atkins, incumbents Cathleen Galgiani (SD 5) and Ricardo Lara (SD 33) won reelection to their seats. LGBT ally Anthony Portantino defeated conservative Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich to represent SD 25.
In addition to Cervantes and Gloria, five strong LGBT allies also appear to have been elected to the Assembly: Sharon Quirk-Silva appears to have defeated Young Kim, who ran an anti-transgender campaign in a previous election cycle, to represent AD 65; Anna Caballero, who was the first elected official in the Salinas Valley to vocally support marriage equality, will represent AD 30; Laura Friedman defeated Ardy Kassakhian to represent AD 43; Eloise Reyes appears to have defeated Cheryl Brown to represent AD 47; and Marc Berman beat Vicki Veenker to represent AD 24. Two openly-LGBT incumbents, LGBT Legislative Caucus Chair Assemblymember Susan Eggman and Assemblymember Evan Low, also won reelection.
In Oakland, endorsed candidate Rebecca Kaplan won an at-large seat on the Oakland City Council. In San Diego County, openly-LGBT Equality California-endorsed candidate Dave Roberts was apparently reelected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and Georgette Gómez looks to have prevailed to represent San Diego City Council District 9. Gómez will be the second openly-LGBT member of the council and will be the first openly-LGBT person to represent her district.
Voters approved Equality California-endorsed Proposition 63, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Safety for All” gun safety initiative, by a vote of nearly two-thirds. The measure requires background checks for ammunition purchase and bans possession of high capacity ammunition magazines. Voters also rejected Proposition 60 by 54 percent of the vote. The measure would have required condom use in adult film productions and was opposed by Equality California because it would have driven production underground or out of state, away from strong California regulations that require and encourage safer-sex practices in adult films.
Equality California marked its most robust electoral and voter education effort to date in the 2016 election season. A “get out the vote” PSA on Spectrum Cable, as well as campaign ads promoting Equality California priority candidates, reached nearly six million households. Equality California reached some four million voters through ads online and on social media. Almost 800,000 phone calls were made, voter guides were mailed to 400,000 Equality California members, and canvassers knocked on 50,000 doors and had nearly 25,000 conversations at LGBT Pride events across the state. Organizers also sent out more than 20,000 texts reminding Californians to vote.
The Equality California Political Action Committee endorses viable candidates who have a proven track record of supporting equal rights and legal protections for LGBT Californians and who are committed to advancing these goals in their capacity as elected officials. Please go to http://www.eqca.org/our-endorsements/ for a full list of Equality California-endorsed candidates.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org