California’s new congressional and state legislative maps include big wins for the LGBTQ+ community, after the state’s independent nonpartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission worked to unite and empower dense LGBTQ+ populations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach, the East Bay, Sacramento and the Coachella Valley. The achievement follows a months-long campaign led by Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, to advocate for fair and equitable maps that empower LGBTQ+ Californians to elect “candidates of choice” — members of the community and allies responsive to their unique challenges and priorities. [Click here to watch Equality California’s October 22 presentation to the Commission.]
“These maps represent a huge victory for diverse LGBTQ+ communities throughout California,” said Equality California Managing Director of External Affairs Samuel Garrett-Pate. “While states across the country launch unprecedented attacks against LGBTQ+ people and engage in partisan gerrymandering, California is once again leading the fight to protect our democracy and achieve full, lived LGBTQ+ equality.”
Unlike racial demographic groups, for which the Citizens Redistricting Commission receives block-level data to evaluate the concentration of Latino, Black, Asian, Indigenous and white voting age population in potential districts, LGBTQ+ people are not fully counted in the U.S. census. To fill the data gap, Equality California and Redistricting Partners used more than 500,000 georeferenced datapoints from Equality California and its partner organizations’ membership databases, as well as the U.S. Census Bureau’s Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Quarters (“POSSLQ”), to create a model identifying where LGBTQ+ people live throughout the state.
- Long Beach: California’s new 42nd Congressional District unites the LGBTQ+ community in coastal Long Beach and Signal Hill in a Latino-majority district that runs north through the Gateway Cities. In recent days, U.S. Representatives Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) announced their retirements, clearing a path for Mayor Robert Garcia to make history as the first openly LGBTQ+ immigrant elected to Congress.
- San Francisco: The state’s new 11th Congressional District includes all of the city’s historic LGBTQ+ neighborhoods — including the Castro, SOMA, Noe Valley, Bernal Heights and Twin Peaks — and excludes the city’s neighborhoods that voted for Proposition 8 in 2008 (the latest statewide election data on opposition to LGBTQ+ equality), maximizing LGBTQ+ support for longtime ally and champion Speaker Nancy Pelosi and providing the community with a strong opportunity to elect an LGBTQ+ member of Congress in the future.
- San Diego’s LGBTQ+ neighborhoods around Balboa Park are united in the new 50th Congressional District; Los Angeles’s LGBTQ+ community in West Hollywood, Hollywood and Silverlake is united in the new 30th Congressional District; Sacramento’s LGBTQ+ community is largely united in the new 7th Congressional District; and the East Bay’s LGBTQ+ community is united in the new 12th Congressional District.
- Los Angeles: The nation’s largest county currently has zero openly LGBTQ+ legislators for the first time since Sheila Kuehl made history when she was elected to the Assembly in 1994. But with the creation of the new 51st Assembly District running from Santa Monica through West Hollywood and Hollywood to East Hollywood and part of Los Feliz, the heart of the LGBTQ+ community is more united than ever — and well positioned to elect former Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur next November.
- Coachella Valley: After the 2011 Commission split Cathedral City from the rest of the Valley’s LGBTQ+ community in Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs and Rancho Mirage, the new 47th Assembly District reunites the community in a competitive district well positioned to elect a strong ally or an openly LGBTQ+ Assemblymember.
- San Francisco: With Sunday’s last-minute reunification of most of West of Twin Peaks with the Castro and other historically LGBTQ+ neighborhoods, the city’s LGBTQ+ community remains largely united in the new 17th Assembly District.
- San Diego’s LGBTQ+ neighborhoods around Balboa Park are largely united in the newly reconfigured 78th District; Long Beach’s LGBTQ+ community is united in the new 69th District; the East Bay’s LGBTQ+ community is evenly divided between the new 14th and 18th Assembly Districts; and Sacramento’s LGBTQ+ community is well represented in the new 6th District.
- Coachella Valley: Although the LGBTQ+ community is largely united in the new 19th Senate District, positioning Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton to make history as the state’s first openly transgender lawmaker, the Valley will have to wait until 2024 after moving from an even-numbered district (the current 28th) to an odd district. Meanwhile, the southern end of the Valley is included in the new 18th District, where Chula Vista City Councilmember Steve Padilla is the clear frontrunner to succeed Senator Ben Hueso in 2022.
- Los Angeles: The heart of the LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood and West Hollywood are united in the new 24th District, while LGBTQ+ residents in East Hollywood, Silverlake and Los Feliz — as well as the emerging LGBTQ+ community in Downtown LA — are united in the new 26th.
- San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ community remains united in the slightly adjusted 11th District; Sacramento’s LGBTQ+ community remains united in the new 8th District; the LGBTQ+ community in Signal Hill and coastal Long Beach remains united in the 33rd District; most of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community is united in the reconfigured 39th District; and the East Bay’s LGBTQ+ community remains united in the new 7th District.
Equality California worked in close partnership with the IVE Redistricting Alliance and organizations like the California Black Census & Redistricting Hub, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and MALDEF to ensure that efforts to unite LGBTQ+ communities did not inadvertently divide other communities of interest. An overwhelming majority of LGBTQ+ Californians are members of communities of color, and LGBTQ+ people are significantly more likely to live below the poverty line, so the community is best served by fair and equitable maps that empower all historically marginalized communities — including communities of color, immigrant communities and working class communities — throughout the state.
A decade ago, Equality California and Redistricting Partners successfully pushed the 2011 Citizens Redistricting Commission and local commissions in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego to consider geographically connected LGBTQ+ communities as communities of interest in the redistricting process.
California has pioneered maximizing the LGBTQ+ community’s political power through the redistricting process. Harvey Milk became the state’s first out LGBTQ+ elected official in 1977, when San Francisco switched from at-large elections to districts for the Board of Supervisors. With the power to elect candidates of choice, San Francisco’s historically LGBTQ+ neighborhoods went on to elect nine more out LGBTQ+ supervisors, including Senators Mark Leno and Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, who each served on the board before being elected to the Legislature.
In 1990, San Diego LGBTQ+ community leaders advocated for the creation of City Council District 3, which includes the traditionally LGBTQ+ neighborhood Hillcrest and surrounding neighborhoods with significant LGBTQ+ populations. In 1993, District 3 elected out lesbian Christine Kehoe, who was succeeded by an unbroken line of out LGBTQ+ city councilmembers including Toni Atkins, Todd Gloria, Chris Ward and Stephen Whitburn. Kehoe, Atkins, Gloria and Ward went on to represent the historically LGBTQ+ neighborhoods in the California Legislature. Atkins made history as the first LGBTQ+ woman to serve as Assembly Speaker and the first openly LGBTQ+ Senate President Pro Tem. Gloria became the first openly LGBTQ+ person to be elected Mayor of San Diego in 2020.
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