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OP-ED: 2013: A historical year for LGBT rights
January 07, 2014, 05:00 AM By Rich Gordon

Rich Gordon

This past year has been tremendous for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. In June, the Supreme Court announced that marriage equality would be restored to California, while simultaneously invalidating a federal law that prohibited the government from recognizing marriages between same-sex partners. With these decisions announced on the heels of Gay Pride Month, parts of our country erupted into celebration. The United States now claims 17 states, and the District of Columbia, that allow gay marriage.

As chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus for the past two years, I am privileged to work with my fellow assemblymembers and senators to provide a voice of equality in the legislature. Our caucus members hail from both coastal and urban to inland and rural areas and bring a variety of life experiences. Our membership is composed of community organizers, a formerly ordained minister, teachers and small business owners. The caucus is now eight members strong, the largest since our inception in 2002 and while we took the time to celebrate our milestones, we also continue to lay the groundwork for the road ahead. We have hired the first full-time caucus consultant and formalized policies to strengthen our relationships with fellow legislative caucuses.

In 2013 alone, we championed legislation that affirms the rights of transgender K-12 students in public schools (Assembly Bill 1266) and revokes tax-exempt privileges for youth organizations that violate state laws on discrimination (Senate Bill 323). As a caucus, we have communicated our concerns over LGBT rights to the Boy Scouts of America, as well as the United States Olympic Committee over discrimination of gay athletes participating in the upcoming Winter Games in Russia. We maintain ongoing conversations with state departments to ensure fair and inclusive implementation of the Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act and the Affordable Care Act.

Our movement toward equality has been and will continue to be a grassroots effort. We have worked with our community partners to co-sponsor Queer Youth Advocacy and Transgender Advocacy Days. These events provided youth and transgender advocates a platform to embark on the state Capitol and lobby elected officials on matters of importance to them. This year, more than 100 individuals shared their personal stories in support of AB 1266, thus revealing the growing voice and awareness of LGBT issues.

Hard work and our shared belief in equality underlie this historic year of LGBT victories both big and small. The next few years present both challenges and opportunities for our community to work alongside other legislative caucuses toward addressing social inequities that persist. Adopting federal immigration reform and passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be just some of the next steps on our journey towards comprehensive equality. The momentous achievements of 2013 drive my optimism for future equality measures and for California.

Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, is the chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus in the California Assembly.



Tags: caucus, equality, transgender, california, community, state,

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