MODESTO, Calif. — California Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and California Legislative API Caucus Chair Assemblymember DavidChiu (D-San Francisco) issued a joint statement Thursday demanding that Modesto City Councilmember and California Senate District 5 candidate Mani Grewal stop making false anti-LGBTQ statements that he apologize to the LGBTQ community and his LGBTQ opponent in the race. The legislators also called on Grewal to endorse Senate Bill 145, the pro-equality legislation authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and co-sponsored by LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Equality California that Grewal had falsely smeared in a campaign ad.
“If Mr. Grewal does not take these steps in the near future, or if his campaign again raises this issue or uses anti-LGBTQ campaign tactics, we will reconsider our position in the State Senate District 5 race,” said the legislators.
Equality California released the following statement from Executive Director Rick Zbur after Chiu and Caballero issued their joint statement:
“Throughout their careers, Senator Caballero and Assemblymember Chiu have championed LGBTQ equality, and the Legislative API Caucus is an invaluable partner in our fight for LGBTQ civil rights and social justice. We thank the Caucus and Senator Caballero for once again standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and against homophobia. Today’s actions make clear that Mr. Grewal’s anti-LGBTQ attacks have consequences and that Californians will not tolerate homophobic rhetoric from him or from any other candidate. We hope Mr. Grewal will take their advice and stop peddling false, negative stereotypes about the LGBTQ community and will join us and law enforcement in supporting critical LGBTQ civil rights legislation like SB 145.”
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, sent a letter on Tuesday, August 13, to Modesto City Councilmember Mani Grewal, a Democratic candidate for State Senate District 5, demanding that Grewal take down an anti-LGBTQ ad featuring Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse. The ad was a thinly veiled attack against bipartisan legislation sponsored by Equality California and law enforcement officials to reform the state’s broken and unfair sex offender registry, which has long targeted LGBTQ people who pose no threat to their communities. Through the ad, Grewal hoped to smear his openly LGBTQ Democratic opponent in the Senate District 5 race.
In the ad, Dirkse said that “adults who molest our children are criminals, and they must register as sex offenders,” a seemingly innocuous statement. But Grewal has previously stated his intention to use SB 384 (Wiener – 2017) — which provided relief to LGBTQ people who had previously been required to register as sex offenders for life under laws that unfairly targeted and entrapped gay men — and SB 145 (Wiener – 2019) — which provides relief to LGBTQ young people who are required to register as sex offenders for engaging in voluntary sexual activity for which their non-LGBTQ peers are not required to register — to attack his openly LGBTQ opponent on the campaign trail.
After Equality California demanded that Grewal take down the offensive ad, he doubled down on the anti-LGBTQ smear campaign, telling the Stockton Record that the bill “would allow a 21-year-old man to molest [his] 11-year-old daughter.” As Snopes detailed in February 2019, SB 145 would not legalize any conduct, but would simply align sex offender registration requirements for LGBTQ young people with those of their non-LGBTQ counterparts. The bill would not apply to a young adult who has any type of sex with an 11-year-old.
After repeatedly insisting that his anti-LGBTQ attack ad was not “an attack on [LGBTQ] rights,” embattled Grewal quietly removed the video from his Facebook and YouTube pages on Friday, August 16 — in an apparent acknowledgment that the ad was false, misleading and offensive.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org