The Honorable Gavin Newsom
State Capitol, First Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Newsom,
Among the more than 520,000 elected officials across the nation, you stand as one of the strongest allies to the LGBTQ community because of your unwavering commitment to equality for all people. You have consistently shown courage and foresight in advancing LGBTQ rights, and now we are again asking for your leadership in becoming the first governor to ever appoint an openly LGBTQ person to a vacant Congressional seat.
On behalf of LGBTQ Victory Fund, I urge you to appoint an openly LGBTQ leader to U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’ seat should she become Vice President of the United States this November. We join our friends at Equality California in recommending you consider the many qualified LGBTQ leaders worthy of this appointment, including California Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, California Assemblymember Evan Low, U.S. Representative Mark Takano and California Senator Scott Wiener.
We need more qualified LGBTQ voices at all levels of government – including in the U.S. Senate. Donald Trump spent four years stoking fears about our community and worked to strip hard-won gains. The U.S. Senate – currently with just two openly LGBTQ members – is set to confirm a person to the Supreme Court who believes LGBTQ people are inherently unequal under the law. This same chamber also refuses to consider any legislation that provides protection or benefit to the LGBTQ community.
Despite a thriving LGBTQ community in California and the largest Congressional delegation in the nation with 53 members, the state has just one openly LGBTQ member in the U.S. Congress. Nationally, just 0.17 percent of all elected positions are held by openly LGBTQ people and just 127 of them serve in your state. As you know, this severe underrepresentation has devastating consequences for our community as legislation and policies too often ignore or actively harm our well-being.
When LGBTQ voices are in the halls of power and at the discussion tables, it humanizes LGBTQ lives, changes hearts and minds and leads to more inclusive legislation. But nominating a qualified LGBTQ leader to the U.S. Senate is about more than advancing LGBTQ equality. LGBTQ elected officials bring with them a lived experience that make them more empathetic and solutions-oriented leaders, qualities desperately needed in our nation’s highest legislative body.
I understand you have much to consider should you appoint the next U.S. Senator from California. Yet I urge you to continue expanding on your unrivaled legacy among allied elected officials and appoint a qualified LGBTQ leader.
Mayor Annise Parker
President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund
Former Mayor of Houston