By Trudy Ring
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California (Advocate Channel) – California is on track to become the nation’s first state with 10 percent LGBTQ+ representation in its legislature.
Depending on the outcome of the state’s election campaigns, some of which are yet to be decided, California will have 12 to 14 state legislators, including four to six new ones, according to Equality California.
Assembly candidate Corey Jackson in the 60th district and Senate candidate Steve Padilla in the 18th district have won their races, and former Equality California executive director Rick Chavez Zbur is on track to win his bid for the assembly in the 51st district . Senate District 20 candidates Caroline Menjivar and Daniel Hertzberg are both members of the LGBTQ+ community, so the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus will gain a member regardless of the outcome of this race. Jackson will be California’s first black gay state congressman.
The numbers could potentially add 47th District Assembly candidate Christy Holstege and 40th District Senate candidate Joseph Rocha; both are in competitive races that have not yet been declared. Gay contestant Shawn Kumagai gave up his race for Assembly District 20 on Wednesday.
All are Democrats; In California, the two frontrunners in the primaries advance to the general election regardless of party.
The four members of the state assembly won re-election on Tuesday, and the four senators serve until 2024.
Equality California and the chairs of the state’s LGBTQ Legislative Caucus first announced a goal of reaching 10 percent representation in January.
“Representation is power,” Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California, said in a press release. “LGBTQ+ people belong in every room and deserve a place at every table where decisions are made that impact our communities and our lives. As state legislators across the country attack our community—and our trans children and LGBTQ+ students in particular—California will continue to lead the nationwide fight for LGBTQ+ equality and serve as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ+ people everywhere, not least because of our historic proportional representation in Sacramento. “
“Less than 45 years ago, California elected its first openly gay officer, Harvey Milk,” added Evan Low, chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, a member of the assembly. “And today, the California legislature has the largest percentage of LGBTQ+ representatives in the country.”
Low explained that he didn’t see LGBTQ+ people in film, music or the media when he was growing up, but times are different now.
“We’ve seen this shift from sports to entertainment to advertising and now we’re seeing the rainbow wave in legislation,” Low said. “At a time when extremists have done everything in their power to demonize our community, we have proven that California will continue to be a role model for our country. We did this together and I know this is just the beginning.”
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