California Will Be First State in the Nation to Achieve 10% LGBTQ+ Representation in Legislature

State's Four Incumbent Assemblymembers Win Re-Election, Between Four and Six New Out LGBTQ+ Legislators Will Take Office December 5

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - November 10, 2022 - LGBTQ+ Californians will see historic representation in Sacramento, when the state's new legislature is sworn in on December 5. With the re-election Tuesday of four openly LGBTQ+ Assemblymembers and the election of at least four new out LGBTQ+ legislators, California is on track to become the first state in the nation to achieve 10% LGBTQ+ representation in its state legislature. California's four out LGBTQ+ Senators are all serving terms through 2024.

Assembly candidates Corey Jackson (AD-60) and Senate candidate Steve Padilla (SD-18) have won their races, and former Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur (AD-51) is on track to win his bid for Assembly.* Senate District 20 candidates Caroline Menjivar (SD-20) and Daniel Hertzberg (SD-20) both identify as LGBTQ+, so the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus will gain a member regardless of the outcome in that race.

"Representation is power," said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. "LGBTQ+ people belong in every room and deserve a seat at every table where decisions impacting our community and our lives are being made. While state legislatures across the country attack our community - and our trans kids and LGBTQ+ students in particular - California will continue to lead the nation's fight for LGBTQ+ equality and serve as a beacon of hope to LGBTQ+ people everywhere, in no small part because of our historic, proportional representation in Sacramento."

"Less than 45 years ago, California elected its first openly gay official, Harvey Milk," said Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Chair Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley). "And today, the California Legislature has the largest percentage of LGBTQ+ representation in the country. Growing up, I didn't see people like me in movies, music, or mainstream media. We have seen this change from sports to entertainment to advertising, and now we are witnessing the rainbow wave in lawmaking. At a time when extremists have done everything they can to demonize our community, we've proven that California will continue to be a guiding light for our country. We did this together, and I know it is just the beginning."

The total number of Legislative LGBTQ Caucus members in California next month could reach as high as 14, if Assembly candidate Christy Holstege (AD-47) and Senate candidate Joseph Rocha (SD-40) prevail in their competitive races. Openly gay canidate Shawn Kumagai conceded his race for Assembly District 20 on Wednesday. Equality California and leaders of the state's Legislative LGBTQ Caucus first announced a goal of achieving 10% representation in January 2022.

"Today is an incredibly historic day," said incoming Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Chair and current Vice Chair Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-San Joaquin). "Thirty years ago, there was not one out member of the LGBTQ+ community in the halls of the Capitol. Today we now make up 10% of the state legislators! In times like these, it can seem that nothing changes - that we are fighting the same battles decade after decade. But today is an important reminder that through determination, bravery and love, we can truly create the change we want to see in the world. Tomorrow, we go back to work for the people of this great state like we do every day, but tomorrow we do so with a strength and sense of community we have never had before."

As California's Legislative LGBTQ Caucus has grown, the state has led the nation in passing groundbreaking legislation protecting LGBTQ+ civil rights - including bills to protect transgender youth and their families fleeing persecution in other states, to allow nonbinary gender markers on state identification, to expand access to HIV prevention medication without a prescription and to establish a right to gender-affirming healthcare for youth in foster care.

"I am proud to be part of this historic Legislature with more than 10% of our members being LGBTQ+ for the first time in California," said incoming Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Vice Chair Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego). "Transgender and LGBTQ rights are openly being attacked and erased across the country. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the state to protect equality and guarantee that California remains a safe place for those seeking care or refuge from harm. I will look for areas where we can work together to protect LGBTQ youth and seniors to ensure they are supported and not isolated."

According to LGBTQ Victory Institute's Out For America 2022 Report, LGBTQ people are severely underrepresented among elected officials nationwide, needing to elect 35,854 more to achieve equitable representation. And just 192 of the 7,572 state legislators across the country - or 2.5% - openly identify as LGBTQ+.

*Zbur currently leads his opponent 54.86% to 45.14%. According to Los Angeles County's preliminary statement of vote, released November 9, Zbur's lead among voters who cast a ballot by mail - 56.92% to 43.08% - was greater than his overall margin. Given the fact that vote by mail ballots comprise at least 98% of the countywide ballots remaining to be counted, Zbur's lead is almost certain to grow as the County provides additional updates in the coming weeks, and his opponent has virtually no path to overcoming Zbur's current advantage.

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.

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