Tagline: Until the Work Is Done
Response Regarding Senate District 11 Campaign
September 9, 2016 at 4:24 pm

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Dear Assemblymember Ammiano, Supervisor Campos, Supervisor Dufty, and members of the Executive Board of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Equality California, I want to thank you for taking the time to share your views with us regarding the race for Senate District 11 (SD 11). Although only some of the members of our Board live in the San Francisco Bay Area, all of us are acutely aware of the polarized nature of this election and I send you this reply with the utmost respect and with an acknowledgement of our deeply shared commitment to advancing equality and social justice for the LGBT community.

Notwithstanding any assertions to the contrary, Equality California’s endorsement of Supervisor Scott Wiener for SD 11 and our decision to undertake independent expenditures (IE) in support of his campaign were made with the full knowledge of, and in strict accordance with the guidelines and procedures established by, our Political Action Committee (PAC) and Board of Directors. Like all of our endorsement and expenditure decisions, our support of Supervisor Wiener was based on a thorough and independent evaluation of the race conducted by our PAC, which included careful consideration of both candidates’ questionnaires, past records on issues of importance to the LGBT community, interviews conducted by the PAC, and the impact of the race on Equality California’s civil rights and social justice priorities. The PAC concluded that Supervisor Wiener presented a more substantial record of commitment to the needs of the LGBT community, a deeper understanding of the myriad policy priorities in the area of LGBT social justice and civil rights, and a more detailed and specific public policy and legislative agenda aimed at improving the lives of LGBT people and people living with HIV. The Equality California Board concurred in those conclusions and approved the endorsement and IE.

In every election, Equality California identifies races that are likely to have the greatest impact on our efforts to improve the lives of LGBT people and the communities of which LGBT people are a part. We classified Supervisor Wiener’s election as one of our highest electoral priorities because, as the California Senate district with the largest number of LGBT voters and residents, the senator elected by SD 11 is uniquely positioned to provide key leadership on the most pressing and complex challenges faced by the LGBT community. It is our unequivocal view that the LGBT community will suffer a significant setback if SD 11, a district that has been represented by a member of the LGBT Caucus for 20 years, is no longer represented by an openly LGBT legislator. As much as we need and value our partnerships with straight legislative allies, there is no substitute for electing openly LGBT legislators, who live and experience the challenges we face, who can advocate for our community based on personal experience, and who bring with them the standing as a member of our community with which they can hold fellow legislators accountable. We believe that maintaining LGBT representation in this Senate district and preserving and growing the LGBT Legislative Caucus must be top priorities for the LGBT community and for Equality California.

In response to the assertions made as to the funding supporting our PAC expenditures, as an initial matter I respectfully refer you to Equality California’s open letter of May 19 to Supervisor Jane Kim, posted on our website at http://www.eqca.org/an-open-letter-to-supervisor-jane-kim, which disputes the accuracy of claims made by Supervisor Kim’s campaign during the primary. I would also note that Equality California is not an outlier among major LGBT civil rights organizations across America in accepting financial contributions from a broad range of supporters, including individuals, labor organizations, law firms, banks, business groups, and corporations. Like any other nonprofit advocacy organization, once we set our organizational objectives, we seek out financial contributions to enable us to achieve them. I strongly disagree with the characterization of Equality California as a “back channel for corporate special interests,” or any other outside interests. We determine our electoral objectives independently, with our sole focus on the advancement of civil rights and social justice for LGBT people and the communities of which we are a part. We seek and accept funding from donors who agree to help us advance our objectives, not the reverse.

Finally, I would ask you to consider that Equality California only began to communicate about Supervisor Kim’s record after her campaign made public statements impugning the integrity of our organization. Personally, I believe that statements made and repeated with the intent of marginalizing and discrediting an LGBT organization’s voice in the political process reflect a deeply disturbing strategy wholly inconsistent with the values of a self-professed ally of our community. Those statements have reinforced our view that electing Supervisor Wiener is of the utmost importance to the LGBT community.

On behalf of my colleagues on the Board, I want to again express our tremendous appreciation for your long-standing commitment to LGBT equality and social justice. We value our long-time partnership with each of you and hope to work with you in the months and years ahead, notwithstanding our disagreement over this particular race.
Very truly yours,

Andreas Meyer
Board President
Equality California

 

Via email

The Honorable Tom Ammiano

The Honorable David Campos

The Honorable Bevan Dufty

Members of the Executive Board of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club

 

cc:  Equality California Board of Directors

Equality California Political Action Committee

Rick Zbur, Executive Director


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