On December 11, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley), Chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force, introduced a resolution, “Expressing Support for Transgender Acceptance”, to promote transgender acceptance, recognize the challenges facing the transgender community, and improve safety and opportunities for transgender people.“This is another much-needed step in our fight to ensure that the transgender community’s voice is represented in Congress. The transgender community faces widespread bullying, harassment, and violence, and these individuals do not yet have sufficient legal means of protection from such discrimination in many states. We cannot achieve equality without acceptance. This resolution will take one step toward greater acceptance the transgender community. We must work to address the challenges and risks that transgender individuals face on a daily basis in their places of work, education, and housing, and ensure that their individual rights are understood and respected,” said Congressman Honda.
“The statistics hide the murders never reported, the hate crimes that went uncounted because police or family members did not respect the victim’s gender identity, and the transgender youth and adults, who, facing hostility from their families and communities, took their own lives,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. This resolution would send a signal of support and affirmation to those among us who are still fighting a desperate battle not just for civil rights, but also to simply stay alive. Equality California is leading, together with the Transgender Law Center, a groundbreaking coalition to educate Californians about their transgender neighbors, and we’re grateful to have an ally like Rep. Honda in Congress.”
In November, Congressman Honda, along with members of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, hosted the first-ever congressional Forum on Violence Against Transgender Individuals. Honda chairs the Transgender Equality Task Force, the first congressional task force devoted only to issues impacting the transgender community, which he launched last month in the U.S. House of Representatives. In September, the congressman introduced a house resolution to protect transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual congressional employees from employment discrimination. He is also the founding member and chair of the Congressional Caucus to End Bullying.
Right-wing activists are trying to qualify an anti-transgender initiative for the November, 2016 ballot. The so-called “Personal Privacy Protection Act” is one of an increasing number of bills brought forward by right-wing activists across the country that target the transgender community. It would go even farther than efforts in other states, prohibiting transgender people from using facilities in government buildings and requiring the government to monitor bathroom use. It would also allow anyone offended by the presence of an individual in a restroom to sue that person for a $4,000 in damages, as well as attorney’s fees. Government analysts say the measure could cost California millions of dollars every year in legal expenses and lost federal funding.
Together with a group of other labor, civil rights and service provider organizations, Equality California has submitted an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari in a case seeking to lift a federal injunction blocking implementation of programs awarding temporary legal residency status to limited classes of undocumented immigrants.
The programs, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), would give between four and five-million undocumented immigrants an opportunity to apply for a permit to temporarily avoid deportation. President Obama announced an expansion of the programs last year, prompting a lawsuit by the state of Texas and 25 other states claiming that Obama had overstepped his executive authority. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a temporary injunction against implementation of the expanded programs earlier this year; the U.S. Department of Justice last week filed a petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case to remove the injunction.
The amicus brief, filed today, calls on the Court to hear the administration’s case, and was signed by Equality California, SEIU, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and a broad coalition of 224 civil rights, labor and service provider organizations from across the country.
“We represent the interests of LGBT people and are committed to advancing social justice in all the communities that LGBT people are a part of,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “These programs directly impact millions of people who have grown up here, paid taxes here and raised their families here – including hundreds of thousands of LGBT people in California alone. Bringing undocumented immigrants into the full social, economic, and civic life of our communities is not only just and fair, it simply makes economic sense.”
If the Court accepts the DOJ’s petition, it will hear the case early next year, with a decision likely by June, 2016.
Equality California estimates that there are as many as 250,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants in California. EQCA leads a collaborative of LGBT organizations in California focused on improving the lives of undocumented Californians, including those who would qualify from expanded DACA and DAPA.
Daniel Kaufman, 42, of Rialto, who ran the coffee shop in building 3 at the Inland Regional Center, is among those who were killed in Wednesday’s shootings, according to social media posts and news media.
“I am sad to report that Daniel has been positively identified as one of the fatalities at the scene,” Ryan Reyes, Kaufman’s boyfriend, posted on Facebook. “Thank you all for your love and support. I love you Daniel, and I will forever miss you.”
Reyes told the Los Angeles Times that he dropped Kaufman at work Wednesday’s morning and they exchanged text messages.
Reyes, also of Rialto, spoke to reporters Wednesday, and said it took him four and a half hours to find out his boyfriend was hospitalized.
Reyes said that initial reports were that Kaufman survived, but he learned Thursday morning that it wasn’t the case.
Today, the 28th annual observance of World AIDS Day, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur issued the following statement:“This is a time of great promise. For the first time in the history of the AIDS epidemic, treatments are available that can stem or even stop the spread of HIV. Living with the virus itself is now a manageable long term condition rather than a debilitating and fatal disease.
But remember that for far too many people in the LGBT community, including in communities of color and around the world, that promise is still far off. In the United States, transgender women are an estimated 49 times more likely to have HIV than the general population, and more than a fifth of them are, in fact, living with the virus. The transmission rate in young gay men increased a staggering 132 percent between 2001 and 2011. Millions around the world still have no access to life-saving therapies, including those without health coverage here at home. And transmission of HIV is still a felony criminal offense in California and across the country, stigmatizing people with HIV and treating them more harshly than people with other communicable diseases.
Equality California is committed to the health and wellbeing of everyone in the LGBT community and ending stigma attached to having HIV. We are working with a coalition of other LGBT and civil rights organizations to modernize laws that unfairly target people with HIV. We are educating our community about the benefits and availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which promises to end transmission of HIV. And we are working to bring health coverage to everyone in California’s LGBT community, regardless of immigration status, so that each of us has an equal chance at a long, healthy life.
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
Equality California announced today that it has made endorsements in four of its priority races for the California Legislature – San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener for Senate District 11 (San Francisco), Bryan Urias for Assembly District 48 (West Covina), Sabrina Cervantes for Assembly District 60 (Corona) and former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva for Assembly District 65 (Fullerton).
“This coming election year is especially important to the LGBT community, as several members of the LGBT legislative caucus are terming out,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “The current slate of EQCA endorsees will help us to maintain a strong LGBT caucus in Sacramento for the remainder of the decade, and also to re-elect a courageous ally.”
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener has represented the Castro, Noe Valley and nearby neighborhoods on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors since 2010, and also has served as a deputy city attorney and as chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party. If elected, he would replace Sen. Mark Leno, terming out in 2016. Leno is one of EQCA’s strongest legislative partners and represents one of the most heavily LGBT districts in the state, in a seat that has been held by an LGBT person since 2004. Wiener has been a longtime leader in San Francisco’s LGBT community and has a distinguished record as San Francisco supervisor, advocating for the needs of LGBT people and people affected by HIV. He has served as co-chair of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, and in leadership roles for BALIF, Equality California and other organizations.
“Scott Wiener is a leader on many issues impacting the LGBT community,” said Zbur. “From standing up to and successfully stopping insurance companies from raising prices on life-saving HIV medications, to fighting every year to ensure full funding for HIV care, to creating programs that address the housing and health needs of our LGBT seniors and homeless and at-risk youth, he leads the way for our community. EQCA is committed to getting Scott elected and maintaining LGBT representation from San Francisco in the state legislature.”
Urias has served on the board of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District since 2010, where, before the repeal of Proposition 8, he implemented an equal benefits policy for registered same-sex domestic partners. He cites his involvement in the campaigns against Proposition 8 and the earlier Proposition 22 as key reasons for his interest in politics.
“Bryan cut his political teeth on LGBT issues and he will be a strong advocate for our community when he is elected to the California Assembly,” said Zbur. “His history of implementing pro-LGBT policies and his personal experience as an openly gay Latino man will make him an effective advocate for LGBT people and a strong potential partner for Equality California as we work to improve the lives of LGBT people and all the diverse communities of which we are a part.”
Cervantes is currently district director for California Assemblymember José Medina. She is also a boardmember of the non-profit TruEvolution, which advocates for LGBT youth and people with HIV.
“As district director for Assemblymember José Medina in the Inland Empire, Sabrina is on the frontline to implement progressive policies in a largely conservative region,” said Zbur. “She is a dynamic young leader who will represent LGBT people, working class families and all communities of the Inland Empire.”
Sharon Quirk-Silva is running for her former assembly seat representing northern Orange County. While in the Legislature, Quirk-Silva earned a 100 percent legislative score from EQCA – in contrast to her conservative predecessor’s rating of zero. A former teacher, Quirk-Silva has been a passionate supporter of protections for LGBT students, measures to protect LGBT people from discrimination, and more. She has also served as mayor of Fullerton and as a Fullerton councilmember.
“Sharon has already amply proved herself as a strong ally to EQCA and to the entire LGBT community during her time as an assemblymember,” said Zbur. “She has a teacher’s understanding and compassion for LGBT youth, and has been a brave and vocal supporter of full LGBT equality and civil rights. We are looking forward to helping send her back to Sacramento.”
The Equality California Political Action Committee endorses viable candidates 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.
An 18-year-old man who fatally stabbed a co-worker after a sex act and fled the scene without his pants or shoes pleaded guilty Oct. 29 to voluntary manslaughter.
A murder charge was dismissed against Joe Andrew Cortez and Chula Vista Superior Court Judge Ana Espana indicated she would limit the maximum sentence to six years in prison for the death of Rene Macias Pressa, 44.
Sentencing was set for Feb. 5, 2016. Cortez remains in jail without bail. His attorney said he would present some psychological information at sentencing.
Cortez pleaded guilty to manslaughter just before a preliminary hearing was to be held where more details about the crime would have come out.
Pressa worked with Cortez, a new employee, at a Chula Vista restaurant. Cortez spent the night at his Third Avenue apartment April 23 in Chula Vista. According to what Cortez told police, Pressa had oral sex with Cortez before Cortez repeatedly stabbed him.
Deputy District Attorney Victor Ou said Cortez grabbed a knife off Pressa’s dresser and stabbed him in the abdomen, the base at the back of his head, and twice in the chest.
Cortez left suddenly without his pants and shoes. He accidently cut his fingers and Chula Vista police officers discovered a bloody trail with bare footprints leaving Pressa’s apartment for about a mile.
Pressa’s body was found outside his apartment by his roommate, and police initially thought that Pressa may have been attacked somewhere else and walked home. However, Cortez’s wallet was found inside his pants in the apartment along with his shirt and shoes.
Surveillance camera footage showed Cortez leaving barefoot in his boxer shorts and a tank top. He walked all night to his parents’ home. Cortez surrendered to authorities April 30.
Blasting aboard space shuttle Challenger in 1983 to become the first American woman—and at age 32, the youngest American in space—the late Sally Ride captured the nation’s imagination by breaking barriers. Her legacy also includes inspiring generations of students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through Sally Ride Science, a science education company she co-founded in 2001.
In a partnership agreement announced by the University of California, San Diego, future generations—especially girls and historically underrepresented K-12 students—will be motivated to continue with STEM in school and beyond through Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego. The newly created program aligns with the university’s Strategic Plan to expand existing initiatives and implement new approaches that result in accessible and affordable learning for all. The agreement was effective Oct. 1.
Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego will focus on the following target areas: professional development for teachers; K-12 STEM + Arts (STEAM) education including courses, lectures and events; and online programming via UCTV. The program will be implemented through the university’s Extension, Supercomputer Center and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. These divisions will collaborate to provide the expertise, resources, leadership, support and oversight for Sally Ride Science based on the program’s guiding principles. Two of the Sally Ride Science cofounders, Tam O’Shaughnessy and Karen Flammer, will be part of the new program, providing continuity for Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego.
“Sally Ride was recognized throughout the world as a physicist, astronaut, professor and science education advocate,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are honored to carry on her dream of Sally Ride Science to inspire future generations of students to get excited about STEM fields.”
In 1977, Ride was finishing her Ph.D. in physics at Stanford when she saw an article in the student newspaper saying that NASA was looking for astronauts—and for the first time was allowing women to apply. Ride was among the first six women chosen to join the astronaut corps. When the space shuttle Challenger blasted off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 18, 1983, she soared into history as the first American woman in space. She flew a second time aboard Challenger in 1984 and later became the only person to serve on the presidential commissions investigating both of the nation’s space shuttle tragedies.
After retiring from NASA, she joined the faculty at UC San Diego in 1989 as professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute, an initiative under the University of California system. She cofounded Sally Ride Science in 2001 and served as CEO of the company until her death from pancreatic cancer in 2012 at age 61.
“We are thrilled to extend the wonderful legacy of Sally Ride—astronaut, scientist and UC San Diego professor emeritus of physics,” said Becky Petitt, vice chancellor for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego also ties into our continuing work to diversify the STEM pipeline. By this agreement, our campus will be able to expand Sally Ride Science to even more students—including traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations.”
The cofounder and current CEO of Sally Ride Science, Tam O’Shaughnessy, will serve as executive director of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego. Before becoming CEO, she served as chief creative officer of Sally Ride Science from 2001 to 2012, overseeing all content development, and as chief operating officer from 2009 to 2013. After earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in biology from Georgia State University, she received her doctorate in school psychology from UC Riverside in 1997. O’Shaughnessy is an associate professor emeritus of school psychology at San Diego State University.
O’Shaughnessy said, “It has been a great pleasure to work with Chancellor Khosla and his team to find a way to bring Sally Ride Science onto the UC San Diego campus. This is a golden opportunity to continue our mission of bringing science to life for generations to come.”
Karen Flammer, a UC San Diego research physicist who is also a cofounder of Sally Ride Science, will serve as director of education for Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego. Flammer also has been named director of education, outreach and training at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). She holds the two positions through a joint appointment with SDSC and the UC San Diego Extension.
Flammer has more than 20 years of experience directing large-scale STEM outreach and professional development programs. She served as Sally Ride Science’s head of professional development as well as principal investigator for Sally Ride EarthKAM, a NASA program that allows students around the world to capture images of Earth using a camera on the International Space Station. Flammer earned her doctorate in space physics from UC San Diego in 1988.
UC San Diego Extension will play a key role in the implementation of Sally Ride Science. The division is already involved in extensive efforts to reach out to youth in underserved communities, including our region’s tribal youth, Southeast San Diego and Barrio Logan. Extension also has a special focus in bringing women into STEM/STEAM careers. The division will bring together both of those efforts through programming that honors Sally Ride with the Sally Ride UCTV series on The STEAM channel as well as through outreach to teachers.
“Sally Ride Science will augment and expand UC San Diego’s expertise in K-12 outreach and science with a unique program to inspire teachers, students and the next generation of learners,” added Edward Abeyta, “Sally Ride Science will increase our reach in the community and online, offering up a rich clearinghouse of science, technology, engineering, math and arts resources. In addition, we will be able to provide additional educational access to key target groups, including girls, at-risk youth and first generation students.”
In a stroke of serendipity, Scripps Institution of Oceanography will take delivery in 2016 of America’s newest oceanographic research vessel: R/V Sally Ride. Under construction now by the U.S. Navy, the ship was christened Sally Ride by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in honor of Sally Ride’s remarkable legacy of scientific accomplishment, technical achievement, space exploration and commitment to science education. The state-of-the-art ship will use powerful sensors to conduct multidisciplinary scientific research worldwide, from coastlines to continental shelves to the deepest trenches, and will investigate the workings within, upon and above Earth’s oceans. Using satellite telepresence, students and teachers will experience ocean exploration while interacting with scientists at sea. R/V Sally Ride will provide an exciting new venue for Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego to demonstrate to students that STEM fields are meaningful, satisfying and accessible for everyone.
The campus expects to offer Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego STEM programs and activities for K-12 students beginning in winter 2016.
Jonathan Crutchley, founding partner and owner of the world’s largest gay brands that includes Manhunt and Jack’d, has joined the advisory board of The National Coalition of Rent Boys & Allies, an organization advocating for the legal rights of male escort workers. The group formed in response to the Aug. 25 raid on Rentboy.com in New York City by the NYPD and Homeland Security.
“It is no business of the government at any level— be it federal, state, or local— to enter the bedrooms of consenting adults and tell them what they may or may not do within that private setting,” asserts Mr. Crutchley on his decision to join NCORB. Last week, he made a financial contribution to the legal defense team representing Jeffrey Hurant, founder of Rentboy.com. “Such matters are certainly not the business of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created after September 11, 2001 to protect citizens from foreign terrorists.”
Federal agents joined the NYPD in shutting down Rentboy on the assertion that Rentboy was using interstate commerce to violate local New York laws.
Mr. Crutchley is not alone in believing that federal agents violated the constitutional rights of U. S. citizens. The editorial board of The New York Times even called the raid ‘peculiar’.
“I founded my company in the name of individual privacy and sexual freedom,” Mr. Crutchley continues. “In the name of individual liberty, the Federal government needs to do the job it was given to do by the Constitution.”
The National Coalition of Rent Boys & Allies was created as a not for profit corporation by attorney Norm Kent, a well known First Amendment advocate.
“The Department of Homeland Security has initiated a questionable legal action which has terrorized thousands of men who were lawfully trading their time and companionship for legitimate compensation,” said Mr. Kent via a press release issued earlier this week. “There is a need for these men to have a collective voice and open forum to speak out against the raid and for their rights.”
NCORB aims to fill the need. Its website contains a media outpost of news articles, columns, reactions and information about the Rentboy raid. The site will also soon provide unfettered access to legal advisories and ‘know your rights’ forums for rent boys remaining in the industry, as well as regular updates on the status of the federal case against the principals of the Rent boy prosecution.
“Public pressure may not stop the prosecution, but it will certainly let the US attorney know where the LGBT community stands on targeting our population and our partners,” says Mr. Kent.
Mr. Crutchley joins Mr. Howard Andrew of Fab Scout Entertainment, an agency that represents many of the world’s leading gay adult talent, on the advisory board of NCORB.
Legislation authored by Sen. Mark Leno that provides new protections for transgender foster youth in California was signed into law Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 731 ensures that all foster youth, including those who identify as transgender, are placed in appropriate homes where they feel safe and accepted. It requires caregivers tasked with placing foster youth in homes to take a young person’s gender identity into consideration when making this critical decision.
“Young people have a better opportunity to thrive in situations where they are fully accepted and supported for who they are,” said Sen. Leno, D-San Francisco. “Entering the foster care system is challenging for all youth, but it can actually be damaging for young people whose identities are not affirmed by their caregivers and peers.”
When a child enters California’s foster care system, welfare workers and caregivers consider a host of factors when choosing an appropriate placement. The Foster Care Bill of Rights gives all foster youth the right to fair and equal access to services and the right to be free from discrimination based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. State law, however, does not provide specific guidance on placing youth who are transgender. SB 731 provides that needed direction.
The bill is co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California and Transgender Law Center.
“We applaud Gov. Brown for signing SB 731 into law. This bill provides critical guidance to child welfare professionals by making it clear that all children in foster care have the right to placements that are consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the sex listed in their court or child welfare records,” said NCLR Youth Policy Director Shannan Wilber. “By extending equal treatment to transgender foster children, California once again demonstrates its commitment to achieving safety, permanence, and well-being for all children in the custody of its child welfare system.”
Studies show that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are at higher risk for homelessness, abuse, depression and suicide. Transgender youth in particular are at high risk for poor health outcomes due to the rejection and harassment they face. These risks are magnified for young people in foster care, many of whom have already experienced significant trauma.
“By signing SB 731 into law, Gov. Brown has taken an important step towards making the foster care system safer and more supportive for transgender youth,” said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi. “This is critical for a population of young people whose identities are too often rejected and attacked by the systems put in place to support them.”
“Children are placed in foster homes to remove them from dangerous situations and keep them safe,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “Too often, transgender kids are placed into home situations that are even more hostile than the ones they left. This law is simple common sense and will help ensure that vulnerable children are kept safe.”
Equality California (EQCA), California’s largest statewide LGBT rights organization, has announced the formation of the EQCA Equality Council, a new advisory board that has been formed to better inform and develop strategic organizational policy. The council will support EQCA’s new mission by increasing visibility of the organization, assisting EQCA with outreach and supporting EQCA staff in areas corresponding to each council member’s expertise.“The members of the Equality Council are respected leaders and bring a broad range of skills and talents to Equality California,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “They will help shape and advance our newly-focused mission to advance LGBT civil rights and social justice.”
The members of the Equality Council are:
Daniel Allender of Los Angeles is an attorney at the law firm of Irell & Manella LLP. His pro-bono work has included immigration applications and helping victims of loan modification fraud.
Eric Andresen of San Francisco is president of West Coast Property Management and the San Francisco Apartment Association. He is also the National Vice President of Scouts for Equality.
Aaron A. Avery of Sacramento is a partner at Hefner Law with particular expertise in business insolvency matters.
Taylor Bazley of Los Angeles is a government relations consultant at Bob Burke & Company and a recent graduate of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs.
Mike Cavalluzzi of West Hollywood is a criminal defense lawyer at the law firm of Cavalluzzi & Cavalluzzi, who defends clients in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Orange Counties.
Tina Choi of Los Angeles is a partner at Englander, Knabe & Allen and a government affairs and land use specialist.
Ivan Dominguez of West Hollywood is Founder and co-CEO of Creative Spirits Lab.
Katherine M. Forster of Los Angeles is a partner in the employment department at Munger, Tolles & Olson, past president of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, and a member of the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association.
Chris Frahm of San Diego is a shareholder with the San Diego firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schrek and a frequent speaker before a wide variety of professional and community forums.
Susan Jerich of Los Angeles represents public safety officers and unions for the law firm Silver, Hadden, Silver & Levine and previously served as a San Francisco assistant district attorney and assistant U.S. attorney.
La Jolla residents Tom Maddox, a family medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente, and husband Randy Clark, a CPA, have been together over 30 years, and were among seven couples who sued the state of Nebraska for refusing to recognize their marriages.
Scott Malzahn of Los Angeles is a partner at Baker Marquart and focuses on business, tort and intellectual property disputes. He also teaches Constitutional Law at USC Gould School of Law.
Nicole Opper of San Francisco is a documentary filmmaker who directed and produced the Emmy‐nominated feature documentary “Off and Running” and is currently finishing her second feature documentary, “Búscame: Search for Me.”
Ernie Santora of Palm Springs is president of 1st Community Insurance Services, has served as president of Caballeros Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus, and is a member of the Partners for Life program at Desert AIDS Project.
Woody Sides of Long Beach is vice president of EnvisionRx, a national pharmacy benefit management company and a long standing board member of the Alliance for Housing & Healing.
Jeff Towns of Gardena is owner and general counsel for Clear View Sanitarium and Convalescent Center. He has served as a board member and program committee chair for the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.
Mark Vargas of Los Angeles is president and CEO of FAVOR International Brands and serves as a member of the California Coastal Commission.
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Equality California is California’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization focused on 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