Equality California Announces Final Endorsements for 2014 June Primary

Today, Equality California is proud to announce its endorsement of incumbents Gov. Jerry Brown for governor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor, Attorney General Kamala Harris for attorney general, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones for insurance commissioner and Superintendent Tom Torlakson for superintendent of public instruction. In addition, EQCA has endorsed former Speaker of the Assembly Bob Hertzberg for Senate District 18. They join a group of over 50 other candidates already endorsed by Equality California in the 2014 election cycle.

In his current term, Brown has governed California since 2011 and he has been a tremendously effective advocate for full equality throughout his long career. In 2012 he signed into law SB 1172, banning psychological abuse of minors in the guise of “conversion therapy,” and last year he signed the School Success and Opportunity Act, which gives all students, including transgender students, equal access to programs and facilities. Prior to serving as governor, Brown served as attorney general and declined to defend Proposition 8 both as attorney general and later as governor. Brown was recently honored with the Leadership Award at EQCA’s 2014 Sacramento Equality Awards.

“We are tremendously pleased to endorse Governor Brown for a fourth term as governor,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “His leadership has been critical to much of the progress we have made toward full equality in recent years, and we look forward to achieving even more with another four years of Governor Brown’s leadership.”

Newsom garnered national renown while mayor of San Francisco for his bold decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. Since then, he has has used his leadership position to support policies that move equality forward for LGBT Californians, including universal health care, and citizen engagement, like his CaliforniaReportCard.org, which invites residents to grade California’s implementation of marriage for same-sex couples. Newsom was honored at the 2014 Sacramento Equality Awards with the Vanguard Award.

“Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has built on his promise as an exceptional ally to LGBT Californians,” said O’Connor. “He has continually pushed the frontier of equality forward, and we are proud to endorse him for a second term as lieutenant governor.”

Harris has served as Attorney General since 2011, and has been a staunch advocate for full equality, including refusing to defend Prop. 8. While district attorney for San Francisco, she created a hate crimes unit, and convened a national conference to rebut the “gay-“ and “transgender panic” defense. This year, she is an official co-sponsor of Assemblymember Susan Bonilla’s AB 2501, which would curb the use of “gay-“ and “transgender panic” defenses in California. Last year, she was honored with the Vanguard in Leadership Award at the 2013 Los Angeles Equality Awards.

“Kamala Harris has had so many firsts — she’s the first woman, African American and Indian American to hold the office of Attorney General — and now it’s time for her to have a second term,” said O’Connor. “We couldn’t be prouder to endorse Kamala Harris for attorney general.”

Jones has served as Insurance Commissioner since 2010, and previously served as assemblymember for the 9th District. In 2011, prior to the restoration of the freedom to marry, Jones reformed insurance regulations so that low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were no longer excluded from discounts based on spousal language. He also championed groundbreaking regulations to enforce laws requiring gender nondiscrimination in insurance coverage, ensuring that transgender Californians are not denied access to health care simply because of their gender identity.

“Dave Jones has made compassion and equality a priority for insurance coverage in California,” said O’Connor. “We are proud to endorse him for another term.”

After serving in both the Assembly and the Senate, Torlakson has worked as superintendent for public instruction since 2011, and has overseen the implementation of the FAIR Education Act, which ended the exclusion of LGBT historical figures due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Torlakson is a strong supporter of effective anti-bullying programs, and is currently implementing the School Success and Opportunity Act.

“As a former legislator, Tom Torlakson proved himself to be a staunch ally with his consistent 100-percent pro-equality voting record,” said O’Connor. “EQCA looks forward to working with our ally on implementing the FAIR Education Act and the School Success and Opportunity Act on behalf of LGBT students, who are our shared priority.”

Hertzberg is currently a partner at the law firm Mayer Brown LLP, and is a respected voice on environmental policy and government reform. From 1996 through 2002, he represented the 40th Assembly District, and served his final two years in the Assembly as Speaker. While there, he helped to secure passage of AB 537, the California Student Safety & Violence Prevention Act of 2000 by then-Assembly Member Sheila Kuehl, which provided crucial anti-harassment protections for LGBT students.

“Bob Hertzberg has been a longtime supporter of full equality for LGBT Californians, and we’re glad that he’s decided to return to public service,” said O’Connor. “We’re proud to endorse him for California Senate.”

The Equality California Political Action Committee endorses viable candidates running for statewide offices and the state legislature who have a proven track record of supporting equal rights and legal protections for LGBT Californians and who are committed to advancing these goals in their capacity as elected officials.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. For more than a decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor 96 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org