Equality California Endorses 10 Pro-Equality Candidates in Federal, State and Local Races

Equality California today announced the endorsements of 10 strong pro-equality candidates for Congress, the California Assembly and local offices throughout the state.

“LGBT equality depends heavily on the people we send to represent us at every level of government,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Each of our endorsed candidates has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, and we know they will be staunch advocates for us in Washington, DC, in Sacramento and across California.”
The candidates are as follows:

U.S. Congress:

Bao Nguyen (CD 46) – As the current, openly gay mayor of Garden Grove, Nguyen has already logged a number of firsts. He is the first non-white mayor of Garden Grove and the first Vietnamese-American Democrat to serve as mayor anywhere in the United States. He is also Orange County’s youngest mayor. He has a long history of activism and support for LGBT equality, including fighting against Proposition 22. As a Garden Grove Unified School District trustee, he led the school board to become the only government entity in Orange County to protest the exclusion of LGBT groups from the annual Tet parade.

California Assembly:

Laura Friedman (AD 43) – Friedman is a current councilmember and former mayor of the city of Glendale. She cites the influence of her activist mother for her commitment to social justice. As a child, she attended marches supporting the rights of women and the LGBT community. She is strongly committed to advancing equality and social justice for LGBT people. If elected to the Assembly, she has indicated that she will be a passionate advocate for the rights of women, children and for all of California’s diverse communities.

Cheryl Cook-Kallio (AD 16) – Cook-Kallio spent 39 years as a teacher and eight years on the Pleasanton City Council. During her years in the classroom, she counseled LGBT students, spoke out publicly in support of a schoolboard member who was targeted because he was gay and advocated for the hiring of a transgender teacher. If elected, we expect Cook-Kallio to be be a strong voice for LGBT youth, healthcare access, and for strengthening state and federal gun-safety laws.

Dawn Ortiz Legg (AD 35) – Ortiz is a renewable energy executive who has served on numerous public boards and commissions. She supports commonsense gun safety legislation and is committed to ensuring access to affordable healthcare and quality education for LGBT people and everyone in California, including the LGBT undocumented community.

The Equality California PAC endorses outstanding LGBT candidates at the local level:

Erik Howell (Pismo Beach City Council) – Howell is running for reelection to the Pismo Beach City Council. He also serves on the California Coastal Commission. As a trustee for the Lucia Mar Unified School District Board of Education, he led the implementation of a non-discrimination policy for LGBT students, faculty and staff. He uses his visibility as one of the Central Coast’s few openly LGBT public officials to educate and to serve as a role model.

Billie Joe Wright (Anaheim Elementary School Board of Trustees Area 1) – Currently a high school teacher, Wright has a 20-year record of advocating for the LGBT community. He volunteered for AIDS Project Los Angeles and the Carl Bean AIDS Hospice during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic. If elected as a trustee, he is committed to ensuring that local schools implement the new, LGBT-inclusive History and Social Sciences Framework, as well as AB 1266, allowing transgender students to participate in school activities and use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Greg Pettis (City Council of Cathedral City) – Pettis is running for reelection to the City Council of Cathedral City. He became Riverside County’s first out city councilmember when he was first elected to the council in 1994. As a councilmember, he wrote and helped pass the county’s first LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. Pettis has served as president of the LGBT caucus of both the National and California League of Cities, and has a two-decade history of expanding and protecting the civil rights of LGBT people.

Pablo Benavente (Concord City Council) – Benavente is a political coordinator for SEIU Local 2015. He participated in the campaign against Proposition 8, and has volunteered at local schools helping counsel students with bullying issues. If elected, Benavente would be the only Latino and only LGBT person on the council.

Sabrina Brennan (San Mateo Harbor Commission) – Brennan is running for reelection to the San Mateo County Harbor District Board of Commissioners. She also serves as the only openly LGBT member of the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee. Brennan was the first openly lesbian candidate to win a countywide election in San Mateo County and is the highest-ranking lesbian elected official in the county.

Alex Randolph (SF Community College Board of Trustees) – Randolph is running for reelection to the San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees. As a trustee, Randolph has championed protecting financial aid vital to LGBT students, who have often lost support of their families. He most recently was an appointee in the Obama Administration, and began his career as the LGBT community advisor to then-Mayor Gavin Newsom. He founded the LGBT alumni association at UC Berkeley and has served on the boards of the San Francisco LGBT Center and other organizations.

The Equality California Political Action Committee endorses viable candidates for federal and state office 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 is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org