Building a Multiracial Democracy that Protects LGTQI+ Folks in California…
By Chief Network Officer Rebecca Hamburg
Pride month started as a commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots, and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex (LGBTQI+) Americans. In June of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City staged an uprising to resist the police harassment and persecution to which LGBT Americans were commonly subjected. This uprising marks the beginning of a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQI+ Americans. California has been seen as a bellwether for LGBTQI+ support and protections, and yet, like so many other areas, we still struggle with vocal minorities threatening LGBTQI+ people and their rights.
The Los Angeles Dodgers (yes, I’m a lifelong fan despite being born in the Bay Area, sorry Giants & As fans) garnered outrage this Spring when they rescinded an invitation to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to receive an award for their community service during the Dodgers’ Pride celebration in June. The Sisters have been around since the 1970s and are known for their charitable works. Conservative Christian activists, including future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, were purportedly upset that the Dodgers were honoring the group, who they claimed were offensive to Catholics. Though the Dodgers eventually relented and re-invited the Sisters, they also created a Christian Family Night to appease the “other side,” as if all Christians oppose LGBTQI+ rights. It is a real shame that an organization that has been seen as strongly supportive of LGBTQI+ rights could cave under false outrage.
The Inland Empire is ground zero for far-right, Christian-nationalist hate groups that have contested school board seats, called for book bans, denied the existence of LGBTQI+ children, all using scripture as a justification. In Temecula this month, the newly-elected, evangelically-backed school board sparked outrage when it fired their superintendent after rejecting curriculum she proposed that included mention of Harvey Milk, the 1st openly gay person to be elected to public office and who was later assassinated. One of the board members went so far, during discussion of the curriculum, as to spuriously claim that Milk was a “pedophile”. The same school board voted earlier to ban critical race theory. These same attacks on critical race theory and LGBTQI+ people have also taken place in Redlands, Chino Hills, as well as violent anti-LGBTQ protests in Los Angeles County in Glendale. As CDT’s Political Strategist and Inland Empire resident Michael Gomez Daly wrote in our Donor Alert on March 23, “It’s not a mistake that the Right has organized anti-CRT protests in California’s congressional battleground regions–the Inland Empire, Central Valley, San Diego and Orange County.”
15 years ago, California voters passed Prop 8 enshrining discriminatory language about the definition of marriage in the California constitution. Despite decisions affirming marriage equality and protections for LGBTQI+ rights in the intervening years from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Dobbs majority decision last year and the concurrence by Justice Thomas made clear that access to birth control, LGBTQI+ rights, and much more are also on the chopping block. In 2024, voters will be asked to weigh in on this issue, but this time to affirm support for equality by repealing Prop 8.
For these reasons and more, CDT will continue to invest in power building, civic engagement and community-centered policy efforts that strengthen governing power for communities of color to create an authentically democratic, multiracial, and LGBTQI+ inclusive state. We will also continue to support progressive leaders of color to win elections by investing in candidate campaigns, independent campaigns, and ballot initiatives that center inclusive and collaborative governance and improve community wellbeing. Thank you for being part of these efforts!