California to have 10 percent LGBTQ+ membership in legislature

California is on track to be the first state in the nation with 10 percent LGBTQ+ representation in its legislature.

Depending on the outcome of the state’s election races, some of which are yet to be decided, California will have 12 to 14 out state legislators, including four to six new ones, according to Equality California.

Assembly candidate Corey Jackson, in the 60th District, and Senate candidate Steve Padilla, in the 18th District, have won their races, and former Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur is on track to win his bid for Assembly in the 51st District. Senate District 20 candidates Caroline Menjivar and Daniel Hertzberg are both members of the LGBTQ+ community, so the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus will gain a member regardless of the outcome in that race. Jackson will be California’s first Black gay state legislator.

Possibly adding to the numbers may be Assembly candidate Christy Holstege, in the 47th District, and Senate candidate Joseph Rocha, in the 40th District; both are in competitive races that have not been called yet. Gay candidate Shawn Kumagai conceded his race for Assembly District 20 on Wednesday.

All are Democrats; in California, the top two candidates in the primary election advance to the general election, regardless of party.

The state’s four out Assembly members won reelection Tuesday, and the four out senators are in office through 2024.

Equality California and leaders of the state’s Legislative LGBTQ Caucus first announced a goal of achieving 10 percent representation in January.

“Representation is power,” Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang said in a press release. “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.”

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“Less than 45 years ago, California elected its first openly gay official, Harvey Milk,” added Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Chair Evan Low, a member of the Assembly. “And today, the California Legislature has the largest percentage of LGBTQ+ representation in the country.”

Low explained that he didn’t see LGBTQ+ people in film, music, or the media when he was growing up, but times are different now.

“We have seen this change from sports to entertainment to advertising, and now we are witnessing the rainbow wave in lawmaking,” Low said. “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.”

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