SACRAMENTO, Calif. For the first time in history, California's Legislative LGBTQ Caucus could increase to 10% of the state legislature in 2022. Equality California, the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, announced endorsements of three openly LGBTQ+ candidates on Jan. 26: former San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez in Assembly District 80; Palm Springs City Councilmember and former Mayor Christy Holstege in Assembly District 47; and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Joseph C. Rocha in Senate District 40. Equality California previously announced early endorsements of Rick Chavez Zbur for Assembly District 51 and Chula Vista City Councilmember Steve Padilla for Senate District 18. There are currently eight openly LGBTQ+ Californians serving in the Legislature, including four in the Assembly and four in the Senate.
"For decades, California has led the nation in the fight for full, lived equality and served as a beacon of hope to LGBTQ+ people around the world," said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. "But unfortunately, our community is still underrepresented at all levels of government here in California and across the country. Representation is power, and we have an historic opportunity this year to achieve proportionate representation in Sacramento. Equality California is going to take it."
"This year, we stand ready to mark a massive milestone in the history of our caucus and the broader LGBTQ+ community," said California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Chair Asm. Evan Low and Vice Chair Sen. Susan Eggman. "There is no better way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the California Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus than by achieving increased LGBTQ+ representation in the Legislature. More members of the LGBTQ+ community are rolling up their sleeves and running for office than ever before. The Caucus stands ready to support them because representation matters. We won't stop until every member of the community can see themselves reflected in the halls of their state capitol."
Georgette Gómez is running in an April special election to replace former Assembly Appropriations Chair Lorena Gonzalez who recently resigned to lead the California Labor Federation in the current Assembly District 80. She is also running in the June primary for a full term representing the newly redrawn 80th district, which includes most of the same communities as the current district. Gómez previously made history as the first openly queer Latina to serve as city council president in the state's second largest city after being elected unanimously by her peers. On the council, she championed civil rights and social justice, environmental justice and support for immigrant communities. She has been endorsed by the Latino and LGBTQ Caucuses, San Diego Assemblymembers Chris Ward and Tasha Boerner Horvath and Supervisor Nora Vargas.
"Georgette Gómez is a proven champion for social justice and the perfect person to represent San Diego's LGBTQ+, Latino and border communities in the California Assembly," said Hoang. "We have proudly supported Georgette throughout her career and can't wait to welcome her to the California Assembly this spring."
"It's a great honor to be endorsed once again by Equality California," said former City Council President Gómez. "As a Queer Latina born and raised in Barrio Logan, you know I'm ready to be the strong voice for equality and fairness that every South County family deserves. In the State Assembly, I'll fight for families working hard to make ends meet and basic dignity for every Californian — regardless of where you're from, what you earn, or who you love."
Christy Holstege is running for the newly redrawn Assembly District 47 in the Coachella Valley, which is an open seat after Asm. Chad Mayes (I-Rancho Mirage) announced he will not seek reelection. Redistricting made the district more Democratic and reunited Cathedral City, which has a large LGBTQ+ population, with the rest of the Coachella Valley's LGBTQ+ community in a single district. Holstege made history in 2017 as part of the nation's first all-LGBTQ city council in Palm Springs and again in 2021 as the nation's first openly bi+ mayor. If elected in November, she'll make history once again as the first openly bi+ woman to serve in the California Legislature.
"We couldn't be prouder to support Christy Holstege's historic campaign for California Assembly," said Hoang. "On the city council, Christy has been a tireless champion for civil rights, reproductive freedom, affordable housing and an economy that works for everyone. We have no doubt that she will continue to be a powerful force for progress in Sacramento when she makes history this fall."
"It's an honor to receive Equality California's endorsement in our campaign for Assembly District 47," said Councilmember Holstege. "Throughout my time on the Palm Springs City Council, my colleagues and I have made advancing inclusion, diversity, and justice the center of what we do. I've dedicated my whole career to this mission as a community organizer for the No on Proposition 8 campaign; a civil rights attorney for our community's most vulnerable, including LGBTQ clients; and as the leader of this compassionate world-class city. I'm grateful to EQCA for their support and look forward to working together in the State Legislature."
Joseph C. Rocha is running to defeat anti-LGBTQ+ Senator Brian Jones who earned a 36% on Equality California's 2019 Legislative Scorecard and 0% in 2020 in San Diego's newly competitive Senate District 40. Rocha dedicated his life to serving his country when he joined the Navy on his 18th birthday, only to be discharged later under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. While he advocated for repeal of the discriminatory policy, Rocha graduated from San Diego City College, then the University of San Diego, then University of San Francisco School of Law. Following the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Joseph rejoined the military, rising to the rank of a Marine Corps Captain and prosecutor, continuing to fight for justice.
"Joseph Rocha has exemplified service to community and country throughout his life, and he will be an incredible partner in the fight for full, lived equality in the California Senate," said Hoang. "Joseph's unique perspective and powerful life experiences will be invaluable in Sacramento as he continues his lifelong fight for justice. We're thrilled to support Joseph's campaign."
"I am heartened to join the ranks of the fearless trailblazers who have earned Equally California's endorsement," said Rocha. "As a principal witness in the federal case that ruled Don't Ask, Don't Tell unconstitutional, I have a proven track record of fighting for LGBTQ+ inclusion in some of the toughest and most conservative spaces. I'm running for State Senate out of the same sense of duty and service that has guided me my entire life, and I will be a champion for equality and justice for San Diego County."
For a complete list of Equality California's 2022 endorsements, visit eqca.org/elections .
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 .