Tag Archives: Sheila Kuehl

Sheila Kuehl’s Analysis Of the Prop 8 Decision

One of the smartest people in politics, gay or straight, is former California State Senator Sheila James Kuehl, the first openly LGBT person ever elected to the California Legislature. She sent out this brilliant analysis of the California Supreme Court Prop 8 ruling in Strauss v. Horton yesterday. Kuehl is thought to be running for Zev Yaroslavsky’s Los Angeles County Supervisor seat in 2014 (!) when he is termed out and the 3rd District Seat is open.

Read the analysis, in its entirety, below the fold.

The Opinion

Today, the California Supreme Court ruled on the validity of Proposition 8, the measure adopted by California voters last November to add a new section 7.5 to Article I of the California Constitution, as follows: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”.

The measure was challenged by a coalition of organizations and individuals who favor the ability of same-sex couples to marry on three bases:

1.  That the measure adopted by the voters 52% to 48% was not a simple amendment to the state Constitution, which may be adopted by a majority vote, but, rather, a revision to the Constitution, which may not.  The Constitution may only be changed in one of these two ways, and, if the change is actually a revision to the Constitution, it must either be passed by a two-thirds vote of each house of the state Legislature and put to a vote of the people, or proposed through a constitutional convention and put to a vote.

2.  The second challenge theorized that Prop 8 violated the separation of powers principle because it abrogated a previous Supreme Court decision which held that, under Equal Protection and Due Process principles, same sex couples had the same right to marry in California as opposite sex couples.

3.  The Attorney General advanced a different theory: that the “inalienable” right articulated by the Court in the Marriage Cases could not be abrogated by a majority vote unless there was a compelling state interest in doing so.

The Court rejected all three, holding that they were required to find that the Constitution could be amended by a majority of voters in any election, even if the amendment abrogated a fundamental right previously articulated by the Court.

How Could They Say That?

The Court set out the legal principle that distinguishes an amendment from a revision: That it must change the basic governmental plan or framework of the Constitution.  In deciding whether Prop 8 did, indeed, change the Constitution at such a basic level, the Court decided it did not, and, also, that it did not “entirely repeal or abrogate” the rights articulated in the Marriage Cases.

This is where the Court seriously lost its way.

Marriage is Just A Word….Not

Here’s what the majority opinion said, which I think is not only seriously in error, but a cowardly about-face from their language in the Marriage Cases, which is reprinted in the next section.

First: today’s decision:

“In analyzing the constitutional challenges presently before us, we first explain that the provision added to the California Constitution by Proposition 8, when considered in light of the majority opinion in the Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th 757 (which preceded the adoption of Proposition 8), properly must be understood as having a considerably narrower scope and more limited effect than suggested by petitioners in the cases before us.  Contrary to petitioners’ assertion, Proposition 8 does not entirely repeal or abrogate the aspect of a same-sex couple’s state constitutional right of privacy and due process that was analyzed in the majority opinion in the Marriage Cases – that is, the constitutional right of same-sex couples to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage”  (Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th at p. 829).  Nor does Proposition 8 fundamentally alter the meaning and substance of state constitutional equal protection principles as articulated in that opinion.  Instead, the measure carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term “marriage” for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law, but leaving undisturbed all of the other extremely significant substantive aspects of a same-sex couple’s state constitutional right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship and the guarantee of equal protection of the laws.”

In other words….what’s the big deal about the word “marriage”?

As it turns out, quite a bit.  Here’s what the same Court said about it in the Marriage Cases:

First, it set out the principle it quotes in the new opinion:

“In responding to the Attorney General’s argument, the majority opinion stated that “[w]e have no occasion in this case to determine whether the state constitutional right to marry necessarily affords all couples the constitutional right to require the state to designate their official family relationship a ‘marriage,’ ” because “[w]hether or not the name ‘marriage,’ in the abstract, is considered a core element of the state constitutional right to marry, one of the core elements of this fundamental right is the right of same-sex couples to have their official family relationship accorded the same dignity, respect, and stature as that accorded to all other officially recognized family relationships.

But, then, the Court answers its own question as to the importance of the word Marriage:

“The current statutes – by drawing a distinction between the name assigned to the family relationship available to opposite-sex couples and the name assigned to the family relationship available to same-sex couples, and by reserving the historic and highly respected designation of marriage exclusively to opposite-sex couples while offering same-sex couples only the new and unfamiliar designation of domestic partnership _ pose a serious risk of denying the official family relationship of same-sex couples the equal dignity and respect that is a core element of the constitutional right to marry.”

It is a distinction that makes an enormous difference and, therefore, should be seen as a revision to the state’s Equal Protection and Due Process requirements.

By hanging its decision that Prop 8 was an amendment and not a revision on the slim and dishonest statement that same sex couples are not denied legal rights by denying them the “word” marriage, the Court errs.

Justice Moreno, in Dissent

Bless his heart and his mind. Here is what he says:

The question before us is not whether the language inserted into the California Constitution by Proposition 8 discriminates against same-sex couples and denies them equal protection of the law; we already decided in the Marriage Cases that it does.  The question before us today is whether such a change to one of the core values upon which our state Constitution is founded can be accomplished by amending the Constitution through an initiative measure placed upon the ballot by the signatures of 8 percent of the number of persons who voted in the last gubernatorial election and passed by a simple majority of the voters.  (Cal. Const., art. II, § 8.)  Or is this limitation on the scope of the equal protection clause to deny the full protection of the law to a minority group based upon a suspect classification such a fundamental change that it can only be accomplished by revising the California Constitution, either through a constitutional convention or by a measure passed by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature and approved by the voters?  (Cal. Const., art. XVIII.)

For reasons elaborated below, I conclude that requiring discrimination against a minority group on the basis of a suspect classification strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution and thus “represents such a drastic and far-reaching change in the nature and operation of our governmental structure that it must be considered a ‘revision’ of the state Constitution rather than a mere ‘amendment’ thereof.”  (Amador Valley Joint Union High Sch. Dist. v. State Bd. of Equalization (1978) 22 Cal.3d 208, 221 (Amador Valley).)  The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry that this court recognized in the Marriage Cases, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities.  It weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority. I therefore dissent.”

Me, too.

Shiela Kuehl: No on Props 1A, 1D, 1E

(A quick notice of an opportunity to have a conversation with Jean Ross of the California Budget Project at 11 AM today.  We will be focusing on Prop 1A and its impact on the general budget mess. The call will be recorded and aired as the next Calitics Podcast as well. It’s something of an experiment with the podcast. If you are interested in hopping on the call, shoot me an email (brian A T calitics dotcom) and I’ll get you the call-in info.   – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

I am working for the No on 1A Campaign, however, I am not working for any other No campaign. My opinions should not be construed to be those of the campaign, especially when it comes to the remaining measures.

Sen. Sheila Kuehl knows a thing or two about the legislative process. The long-time legislator and persistent advocate of single-payer health care has published an essay on the California Progress Report opposing Props 1A, 1D, & 1E. The first essay covers only the first half of the props, with the remaining coming soon.  She minces no words on Prop 1A, and the guarantee of money for schools in Prop 1B is not enough to change her mind:

I don’t like the idea of a spending cap [in Prop 1A], even calculated on the regression model. I would prefer the ability of the Legislature to spend one-time money on one-time expenditures and calculate ongoing expenditures separately, without an automatic cap, and a growing rainy day fund. With such a cap, there will never be enough monies for the schools, even with a small portion of the monies over the spending cap going into an education fund. In my experience, all programs get short-changed when a robo-cap like this is enacted.


I don’t think the education funding is a sufficient reason to enact the permanent spending cap proposed by Prop 1A in the state Constitution. Other teachers’ organizations oppose Prop 1A and have indicated, since they believe the state already owes the 9.3 billion, they will simply sue the state for it. Which would, of course, create even more of a hole in the budget. There needs to be a sure hand with authority to pass an adequate budget without gimmicks, which is why I support an end to the 2/3 requirement.

She’s a little more mixed on Prop 1C:

This is the one proposition I’m tempted to support. Of the six billion current dollars estimated to come from all the propositions combined (not counting increased tax revenue three and four years out), more than five billion is estimated to come from the sale of the lottery receipts. Although I do not support increased encouragement for gambling, this income could be the least damaging.

It’s also interesting that the casino-operating tribes made sure that the measure avoids any new games that could threaten their operations.

Read the full essay here.

Friday Open Thread

• Sacramento Mayoral Candidate Kevin Johnson opposes Prop 8. Johnson takes the Obama-squishy approach of saying he opposes writing it into the state constitution, but personally prefers marriage as a man-woman thing.  Incumbent Mayor Heather Fargo, for her part, is a supporter of same-sex marriage, saying of Johnson, that he “made “a good move to oppose Prop. 8. Now we just need to convince him that marriage between gay people is in fact a good thing.”

Zing. This race appears to be quite tight, but a large Obama-friendly turnout in Sacramento would seem to make the former NBA All-Star Point Guard Johnson something of a favorite right now.

• SF League of Women Voters releases YouTube video channel for SF Supevisor candidates. You can get your fill of local politics. There’s literally hours of this stuff. Knock yourself out (and yeah, I’m talking to you Sweet Melissa).

This is fantastic.  Yolo County residents are fighting the construction of a new prison.  It’s as damaging to build as a new coal-fired power plant for a local community.  No city should be turned into another Prison Town, USA.  There’s a little NIMBYism here, but the truth is that we cannot build our way out of the prison crisis – it begins with saner sentencing and a return to the traditional role of rehabilitation.

• Sheila Kuehl writes an open letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger asking him to sign SB840.  It’s very comprehensive.

• Meanwhile, in a rare bit of good news from the insurance industry, HealthNet will reinstate the nearly 1,000 dropped policyholders whose coverage was nixed after they got sick and tried to use it.  They’re also paying millions in fines and reimbursements.

• Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas on the subprime crisis and its effect on the state.

Dropped, denied or delayed?

Full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign

Adapted from a post at the Courage Campaign blog.

Like so many others in California, The Courage Campaign has long championed the battle for affordable and accessible health care. It’s why Courage joined with a diverse coalition asking Terry McAuliffe to please don’t do it as we approach his high-priced speaking engagement in San Francisco for insurance executives tomorrow. And it’s why Courage partnered with the California Nurses Association and Senator Sheila Kuehl today to introduce our new “Insurance Jive” ad.

We’ve all been touched in one way or another by the catastrophic failure of the private insurance system.  Whether it’s ourselves, our family or friends, or diarists like CarlsbadDem, we’ve all seen the results of too many people sick and injured without recourse.  Heck, providing for the common welfare is right there in the Preamble to the Constitution. Like the ad says, it doesn’t have to be this way. The move for reasonable access to quality health care is growing stronger by the day and we need to keep up the momentum. The first $6,000 raised by the Courage Campaign via the ad’s ActBlue page will be matched by the California Nurses Association and Sen. Sheila Kuehl in order to get this ad on the air in San Francisco in the next 48 hours.

Earlier today, Rick Jacobs emailed Courage subscribers about the ad explaining just how much is at stake and and how much a small contribution to air this ad can accomplish:

Have you been dropped, denied or delayed?

Patsy Bates was dropped. Health Net canceled — or “rescinded” — Patsy’s health insurance policy after this 52-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, forcing Patsy to halt chemotherapy for several months while piling up $129,000 in medical bills.

Unbelievable? Actually, the Patsy Bates case may be just scratching the surface. The Department of Managed Health Care is now reviewing thousands of other “rescissions” made by five major insurers operating in California: Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and PacifiCare.

We were so moved by Patsy’s story that we decided to create a 30-second TV ad for other people like Patsy who have been dropped, denied or delayed by their health insurance carrier in California.

But our television ad is not what you might expect. It’s not traditional. Or typical. It’s called “Insurance Jive” and it features a nurse (actor Beth Broderick of “Lost”) who — reminiscent of the Barbara Billingsley character in the 1980 movie “Airplane” — translates insurance jargon for a hospital patient and her husband.

Sounds funny, right? Well, “Insurance Jive” also packs a punch.

That’s why, together, the California Nurses Association and State Senator Sheila Kuehl have pledged to match the first $6,000 donated to place this powerful ad on the air in San Francisco in the next 48 hours — just as thousands of health insurance executives gather in the city for their annual convention.

Please watch “Insurance Jive” now and — if you like it — consider contributing what you can afford on ActBlue to help us make the $6,000 challenge match from CNA and Senator Kuehl:


In the case of Patsy Bates, the good news is that a judge recently ordered Health Net to pay Patsy a whopping $9 million in mostly punitive damages.

But her victory is a rare blow to an industry that routinely seeks to profit at the expense — and physical well-being — of its customers. For example, according to the Los Angeles Times, Patsy’s lawsuit revealed that Health Net had “linked cancellations to employee performance goals,” an illegal policy that helped drive more than $35 million in denied claims between 2003 and 2006.

Fortunately, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has initiated a lawsuit and criminal investigation into Health Net’s decisions to drop, deny or delay health care, asserting that:

Countless Californians who believe they have insurance actually have policies that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. At a patient’s most vulnerable moment, the insurance company won’t pay for care, or will cancel the policy altogether. Industry schemes to maximize profits at the expense of patients are unfair and unlawful, and they must be stopped.

Rocky Delgadillo is talking to these corporations in a language they can easily understand: “lawsuit”. That’s why we created “Insurance Jive” to spread the word about the City Attorney’s helpful website for consumers.

Please watch this powerful new 30-second ad now. If you like it, please consider making a contribution on our ActBlue page so that we can put it on the air in San Francisco in the next 48 hours, for thousands of health insurance executives to see:


We know this ad is provocative. And we know our letter to former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe — in which 9,201 citizens asked him not to speak at, or take a speaking fee from, the AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) convention — was provocative as well.

But we think it’s about time these powerful people were held accountable so that, in the future, seriously ill people like Patsy Bates do not end up in the “rescinded” column on a corporate spreadsheet.

If you agree, please forward this message to your friends right now. We don’t have much time to get this ad on the air while Terry McAuliffe and thousands of health insurance executives are gathering together in San Francisco.

Thank you, again, for helping us make 2008 a new era for progressive politics in California.

Rick Jacobs


P.S. As Senator Kuehl said in our press release: “The time is long past for insurance companies to stop killing and hurting people by refusing to pay for coverage. Until we get a single-payer system, we need Rocky Delgadillo and other leaders to stand up to the insurance industry with the full force of the law.”

We couldn’t agree more with Senator Kuehl. That’s why we created “Insurance Jive” and why we need your help to make the $6,000 challenge match she is making together with CNA. Please take 30 seconds to watch the ad and consider making a contribution on ActBlue to put it on the air ASAP:


Dan Weintraub, Defender of the Health Care Status Quo

Dan Weintraub has a stupid column about single-payer health care that uses the same rhetoric that has locked us into a broken status quo for the history of the Republic.  He claims that a new legislative analyst’s report of the costs of SB840, if implemented today, would leave the state $40 billion dollars in the red after just one year.  That’s true, but as Sheila Kuehl explains, that’s because health care costs have soared while wages remain stagnant, and thus the numbers from the original assessment of the bill are completely out of date.  Weintraub then achnowledges this, but asserts that only 50 percent of the deficit can be attributed to a run-up in health care costs.

Of course, that’s $20 billion dollars.  And one element that Weintraub refuses to consider is cost control, which is the only way any fundamentally new health care system will survive, be it single payer or a collective-responsibility plan like that rejected by the State Senate last year.  Weintraub never tries to factor in cost control.  He never manages to analyze whether or not a system that takes middle men out of the process and removes the profit driver might be able to reduce the price of quality care.  In the same way he never considers whether mandating that insurance companies spend a high percentage of premium revenue on treatment and care would reduce those costs he sees as fixed.

Spending on health care is out of control because there is a patchwork quilt of delivery services, diced up between insurers, hospitals, managed-care organizations, and other elements who add cost without impacting quality.  It’s, in short, an efficiency problem; the United States is grossly inefficient in its delivery of services, and despite superior technology and high spending has a life expectancy which trails 30 other countries and has the highest rate of underweight babies in 40 years, to cite just two examples.  Subjecting a fiscal analysis of a system that would eliminate or sharply reduce the fiscal burden of this quilt to the old rules, and the old costs, makes no sense whatsoever.  It’s like doing an fiscal analysis in the 21st century of the naval budget, factoring in the effects of ships falling off edge of the world.

There’s also the moral argument that we have over seventy million uninsured and underinsured Americans in a country which lists “life” as a fundamental inalienable right.  But I’ll shove that aside for a moment to deride Weintraub’s limiting analysis.

State Senator Sheila Kuehl endorses Mary Pallant (CA-24)

Disclaimer: I volunteer as the Netroots Outreach Coordinator for the Mary Pallant Campaign

Mary Pallant’s campaign (which I have written about here, here, here and elsewhere) got a big new boost today: the endorsement of progressive CA State Senator Sheila Kuehl.

Of course, Sheila Kuehl needs no introduction to regular Calitics readers: she has progressive credentials most of us can only dream of.  She was the first openly gay person in the California legislature, and she has been an incredible advocate for issues across the progressive spectrum from universal healthcare to the environment to civil rights.  Her signature issue of late has been the passage of SB 840, the California Universal Healthcare Act.  Sheila’s bio speaks for itself, of course:

Sheila James Kuehl was elected to the State Senate in 2000 and again in 2004 after serving for six years in the State Assembly. During the 1997-98 legislative session, she was the first woman in California history to be named Speaker pro Tempore of the Assembly. She is also the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the California Legislature. A former pioneering civil rights attorney and law professor, Sen. Kuehl represents the 23rd Senate District in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. She is the chair of the Senate Health Committee and sits on the Agriculture, Appropriations, Environmental Quality, Joint Rules, Judiciary, Labor and Employment, and Natural Resources and Water Committees.  Ms. Kuehl is also chair of the Select Committee on School Safety and Chair of the Select Committee on the Health Effects of Radioactive and Chemical Contamination.  Senator Kuehl served as chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee from 2000-2006.

In her thirteen years in the State Legislature, Sen. Kuehl has authored 171 bills that have been signed into law, including legislation to establish paid family leave, establish the rights contained in Roe vs. Wade in California statute, overhaul California’s child support services system; establish nurse to patient ratios in every hospital; require that housing developments of more than 500 units have identified sources of water; further protect domestic violence victims and their children; prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender and disability in the workplace and sexual orientation in education; increase the rights of crime victims; safeguard the environment and drinking water; many, many others.  Since 2003, she has led the fight in the legislature to achieve true universal health care in California, and, in 2006, brought SB 840, the California Universal Healthcare Act,  to the Governor’s desk, the first time in U.S. history a single-payer healthcare bill had gone so far. Undaunted by its veto, Senator Kuehl continues to work to bring universal, affordable, quality health care to all Californians.

The Mary Pallant campaign is obviously honored to have State Senator Kuhl’s endorsement.  As the true progressive in the race to unseat Elton Gallegly in CA-24, the endorsement is a perfect fit for us in our quest to give this district the sort of progressive representation its people deserve.

State Senator Kuehl is another in a long line of Democrats to support Mary’s campaign as we head into the decisive June 3rd primary.  Other endorsements include:

California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO

California Nurses Association, CNA

Calitics Editorial Board A progressive open source news organization for California politics

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America – UAW

Political Action Committee, Cal State University Channel Islands (CSUCI)

Progressive Democrats of America

Progressive Democrats of Ventura County

Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles

Progressive Democrats of Santa Monica Mountains


Cindy Asner , Activist, Board Member for California Clean Money

Jane Bright, Gold Star Families for Peace

Jeff Cohen, Author

Ray Cordova, Chair, South County Labor, AFL-CIO

Maureen Cruise, “Run Mary, Run!” Delegate for the 41st Assembly District

Rebecca Curtis, English Professor, Union Leader SMCFA

Ralph Erikson, Past president Malibu Democratic Club; retired Judge

Richard Francis, Attorney and Founder of SOAR (Save Our Open Space and Agricultural Resources

Lila Garrett, Host, KPFK Connect The Dots

Gary Gray, Professor; Musician/Composer

Susan Haskell, Consultant

Rita Henry

Larry Janss, Community Leader

Jim Kalember, Ex-Officio, 5-term publicly elected Trustee of the Oak Park Unified School District in Ventura County, CA

Sheila Kuehl, State Senator 23rd District California

Coby King, Co-Chair of Rules Committee, California Democratic Party

Hank Lacayo, President, California Congress of Seniors

Leah Lacayo, Ventura County Fair Board

Marie Lakin, NWPC VC

Rick Lebeck, Teacher, CTA Union Member

Sue Lebeck, Teacher, CTA Union Member

Trudi Loh, Attorney, Political Consultant

Ahjamu Makalani, Vice Chair, Progressive Caucus

Margie Murray, Vice President VDU, LACDCC

Jeff Norman, US Tour of Duty – “Mary Pallant is the real deal.  Blessed with a luminous heart and mind, she makes great things happen with seeming ease.  What more do you want?”

Thom O’Shaughnessy, OD Committee, California Democratic Party; Irish American Caucus

Brad Parker, President, Valley Democrats United; Member at Large Progressive Caucus

Fran Pavley, Former Assemblymember 41st AD; current candidate for State Senate District 23 Progressive Democrats of America

Dorothy Reik, President, PDSMM

Scott Ritter, Author, Former Marine, Former Weapons Inspector

Lyn Shaw, Chair, Women’s Caucus California Democratic Party

Carol Smith, RN Mayor, City of Ojai

David Swanson, Washington Director of Democrats.com and of ImpeachPAC.org. He is co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org / CensureBush.org coalition, creator of KatrinaMarch.org, and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America.

Norman Solomon, Author of “Made Love, Got War” and “War Made Easy” (How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death). Nationally syndicated journalist, media critic and antiwar activist.

Wayne Williams, Photographer, Activist

Marsha Williams, Producer

Marcy Winograd, President, PDLA; 41st AD Eboard Rep

If you would like to support Mary’s campaign to take back CA-24, please consider making a donation here.  I’ll be back with a final update on the race after the primary!

Pettis for CA 80th Assembly District: Receives Endorsements From Every LGBT Caucus Member

Greg Pettis, in his 14th year as Cathedral City Councilman, former-Mayor Pro-Tem of Cathedral City, and Candidate for the CA 80th Assembly District, has now received the endorsements from every member of the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus in Sacramento.  Pettis has widespread support in the LGBT community Nationally, State-wide, and locally because of his progressive stands on issues important to the LGBT communities: Pettis fully supports the HIV/AIDS communities, universal healthcare, a strong local economy, good local schools and responsible academic oversight, a healthy environment, equality and justice for all Californians, and mentoring other members of the LGBT community.

More below the flip…

Pettis’ support in the National, State, and local LGBT communities includes but is not limited to:


U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA)

U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)


Every LGBT Caucus Member in Sacramento:

CA State Senator Christine Kehoe

CA State Senator Sheila Kuehl

CA State Senator Carol Migden

CA State Assemblyman John Laird

CA State Assemblyman Mark Leno


Palm Springs City Councilmember Ginny Foat

Palm Springs City Councilmember Rick Hutcheson

Cathedral City City Councilmember Paul Marchand

Desert Hot Springs City Councilmember Karl Baker

LGBT Organizations and LGBT Community Leaders:

Desert Stonewall Democratic Club

Vice-President Desert Stonewall Democrats Roger Tansey

Treasurer Desert Stonewall Democrats Bob Silverman

Secretary Desert Stonewall Democrats James Reynolds

Membership Chair Desert Stonewall Democrats Lynn Worley

Public Relations Chair Desert Stonewall Democrats Donald W. Grimm, Ph.D.

Steering Committee Member Desert Stonewall Democrats Bob Mahlowitz

Steering Committee Member Desert Stonewall Democrats Richard Oberhaus

Steering Committee Member Desert Stonewall Democrats Greg Rodriguez

Steering Committee Member Desert Stonewall Democrats Robert Lee Thomas

Steering Committee Member Desert Stonewall Democrats Lynn Worley

Political Action Committee Member Desert Stonewall Democrats Bond Shands

Desert Stonewall Democrats Member Bill Cain-Gonzales

Equality California

HRC Board Member Andy Linsky

Inland Stonewall Democratic Club

Co-Chair Palm Springs Democratic Club Sandy Eldridge

Co-Chair Palm Springs Democratic Club David Pye

Secretary Palm Springs Democratic Club Peter East

San Diego Democratic Club

Victory Fund

Pettis is the only Democratic candidate who has indicated publically and consistently that he fully supports issues important to the LGBT community, including Marriage Equality.  In fact, two of his opponents, Rick Gonzales and Richard Gutierrez, have indicated publically that they will vote ‘nay’ on any Marriage Equality bill if elected as Assemblymember to represent the 80th AD.  Victor Manuel Perez has stated publically that he supports equality for all, but consistently avoids stating whether he will or will not vote for Marriage Equality.

Thus, Pettis is not only most qualified to represent the Coachella and Imperial Valleys as per The Desert Sun, but is also the most committed and will most represent all of their interests in Sacramento as Assemblyman (forty percent of the population in Palm Springs are members of the LGBT community, sixty percent of the population is LGBT-identified during the ‘season’).  Recently, most of the major electeds in the West Valley have been openly-gay or openly-lesbian, including former Mayor of Palm Springs Ron Oden, Mayor of Palm Springs and former-Palm Springs City Councilmember Steve Pougnet, Palm Springs City Councilmember Ginny Foat, Palm Springs City Councilmember Rick Hutcheson, Palm Springs Unified School District Trustee Justin Blake, Desert Hot Springs City Councilmember Karl Baker, Cathedral City Councilmember Greg Pettis, and Cathedral City Councilmember Paul Marchand.  Other electeds in the West Valley have endorsed Pettis for the 80th AD, including Palm Springs Unified School District Trustee Meredy Schoenberger and Cathedral City Clerk Pat Hammers.  The only ones of these mentioned not endorsing Pettis for 80th AD are Oden and Blake, the latter not endorsing anyone thus far.

Also, unlike other campaigns for the 80th AD, Pettis is reaching out to all communities in the Coachella and Imperial Valleys, not deigning to divide the communities along race, class, sexual orientation or other lines of distinction.  In fact, Pettis has widespread support in the wealthier cities in the District including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Rancho Mirage as well as in the less advantaged communities like Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Coachella, Brawley, and El Centro.

Members of the LGBT Caucus endorsing Pettis include Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), chair of the caucus,

According to a press release from LGBT Caucus chair Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz):

Formed in June 2002, the role of the LGBT Caucus is to present a forum for the California Legislature to discuss issues that affect LGBT Californians and to further the goal of equality and justice for all Californians.  Formation of the LGBT Caucus made California the first state in the country to recognize an official caucus of openly-LGBT state legislators.

Members of the LGBT Caucus endorsing Pettis include Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), chair, Senator Christine Kehoe (San Diego), Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles), Senator Carole Migden, and Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

Accomplishments and activities of the LGBT Caucus that Pettis is committed to help to further and to accomplish as a State Assemblymember representing the Coachella and Imperial Valleys:

Champion and prioritize laws/legislation that promote equality for LGBT Californians:

Equal rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples and their families

Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender in employment, housing, and business establishments / public accommodations

Prohibit discrimination in state government

Prohibit discrimination and harassment in public school

Promote fair policies and adequate funding for HIV/AIDS and LGBT-related health and human services

Promote prevention programs and policies against hate-crimes and bias-motivated violence

Sponsor annually the LGBT Pride Exhibit every June, celebrating Pride Month.

Present before the California State Legislature the LGBT Pride Recognition Awards, which are given to outstanding individuals in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments and leadership in their respective fields of endeavors.

Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) was first elected to the California State Assembly in 2002, and re-elected in 2004, and in 2006,  Laird represents the 27th Assembly District, which includes portions of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Counties.  Prior to being elected to the State Assembly, Laird served two terms on the Santa Cruz City Council, two terms as Mayor of Santa Cruz, and eight years as a Cabrillo College Trustee.

In his role as Budget Committee Chair, Mr. Laird helped deliver the first on-time budget since 2000-a budget that reduced community college fees, restored funding for transportation and K-12 education, dramatically increased funding for deferred park maintenance and foster care, and increased the budget reserve while reducing the so-called “out year” deficit. Along with the Budget Committee, Mr. Laird also serves as a member the Labor and Employment, Judiciary, and Natural Resources Committees.

Raised in Vallejo and educated in Vallejo public schools, Mr. Laird’s parents were both educators. He graduated from UCSC’s Adlai Stevenson College. In 1981, Assemblymember Laird was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council. He was elected by the City Council to one-year mayor’s terms in 1983 and 1987, becoming one of the first openly gay mayors in the United States.

Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) was first elected to the Assembly in 2002,  Assemblyman Leno represents the 13th District, which encompasses the eastern portion of San Francisco.  He is one of the first two openly-gay men ever elected to the State Assembly.  He currently chairs the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which oversees all bills with a fiscal impact on the state of California.  Leno also serves on the Election & Redistricting and Labor Committees.  Leno was also chair of the Public Safety Committee from 2003 to 2006.  Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Leno served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from April 1998 to November 2002.  Leno has also been in the forefront of Marriage Equality battle with the recacitrant Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in sending the Governor Marriage Equality bills each year which Schwarzenegger then terminates with a veto:

While in the Assembly, Leno has fought for better schools and access to higher education, a cleaner and sustainable environment, universal affordable and quality health care, improved transportation, renewable energy, safer streets and equal rights for all Californians.  In 2007, Leno is continuing his pioneering battle for LGBT couples and their families by authoring AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. This historic civil rights legislation would allow same sex couples to marry in California . In 2005, Leno’s nearly identical AB 849 was the first marriage equality bill in United States history to be approved by both houses of a state legislature.

A native of Wisconsin, Leno attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, then went on to become valedictorian of his graduating class at the American College of Jerusalem, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree. Leno also spent two years in Rabbinical Studies at The Hebrew Union College in New York . He is the owner of Budget Signs, Inc., a small business he founded in 1978 and operated with his life partner, Douglas Jackson. Together the two entrepreneurs steadily grew their sign business until Jackson passed away from complications relating to HIV/AIDS in 1990. This deep loss would not deter Leno. Instead, he redoubled his efforts in community service.

Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) was first elected to the State Senate in 2004, to represent the 39th Senate District,  Senator Kehoe chairs the State Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.  In 2006, Kehoe chaired the Senate’s Local Government Committee where she sponsored the most important redevelopment reform bill in more than a decade:

Senator Kehoe is a member of the Senate Committee on Budget & Fiscal Review; Natural Resources & Water; Transportation & Housing; Local Government, the Governor’s Broadband Task Force, the California Cultural and Historical Endowment; and the Sea Grant Advisory Panel.  

She also serves on the Select Committees on Defense and Aerospace Industry; the Natural Resources and Water’s Subcommittee on Delta Resources; the Joint Committee on the Arts; and the Select Committee on Coastal Protection and Watershed Conservation.

Prior to being elected to the Senate, Kehoe served two terms as a California State Assemblymember representing the 76th District (2000-04).  

During her first term in the State Assembly, Kehoe distinguished herself by becoming the second woman ever – and the first woman from San Diego, to be elected Assembly Speaker pro Tempore, the Assembly’s second highest-ranking position.  In her first year in the State Assembly, she carried the largest energy conservation bill package in the state’s history.  

Prior to being elected to serve California’s 76th Assembly District, Kehoe served seven years as City Council Member representing San Diego’s Third District. As a Council Member, Christine was at the forefront on environmental issues, serving as chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee. She led efforts to improve and beautify San Diego, reduce street crime, and improve recreational opportunities for families.

State Senator Sheila James Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) was first elected to the State Senate in 2000, and again in 2004, after serving for six years in the State Assembly. During the 1997-98 legislative session, Senator Kuehl was the first woman in California history to be named Speaker pro Tempore of the Assembly. Kuehl is also the first openly-gay or lesbian person to be elected to the California Legislature.  A former civil rights attorney and law professor, Kuehl represents the 23rd Senate District in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.  She is the chair of the Senate Health Committee and serves as a member of the Agriculture, Appropriations, Environmental Quality, Joint Rules, Judiciary, Labor and Employment, and Natural Resources and Water Committees.  Kuehl is also chair of the Select Committee on School Safety and Chair of the Select Committee on the Health Effects of Radioactive and Chemical Contamination.  Kuehl previously served as chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee from 2000-2006:

In her thirteen years in the State Legislature, Sen. Kuehl has authored 171 bills that have been signed into law, including legislation to establish paid family leave, establish the rights contained in Roe vs. Wade in California statute, overhaul California’s child support services system; establish nurse to patient ratios in every hospital; require that housing developments of more than 500 units have identified sources of water; further protect domestic violence victims and their children; prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender and disability in the workplace and sexual orientation in education; increase the rights of crime victims; safeguard the environment and drinking water; many, many others.  Since 2003, she has led the fight in the legislature to achieve true universal health care in California, and, in 2006, brought SB 840, the California Universal Healthcare Act,  to the Governor’s desk, the first time in U.S. history a single-payer healthcare bill had gone so far. Undaunted by its veto, Senator Kuehl continues to work to bring universal, affordable, quality health care to all Californians.

She was selected to address the 1996 Democratic National Convention on the issue of family violence and the 2000 Democratic National Convention on the issue of diversity.  In 1996, George magazine selected her as one of the 20 most fascinating women in politics and the California Journal named her “Rookie of the Year.”  In 1998 and, again, in 2000, the California Journal chose her as the Assembly member with the greatest intelligence and the most integrity.  In 2006, the Capitol Weekly picked her as the most intelligent member of the California Legislature.

Prior to her election to the Legislature, Senator Kuehl drafted and fought to get into California law more than 40 pieces of legislation relating to children, families, women, and domestic violence.  She was a law professor at Loyola, UCLA and USC Law Schools and co-founded and served as managing attorney of the California Women’s Law Center.

Senator Kuehl graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978 where she was the second woman in the school’s history to win the Moot Court competition.  She served on the Harvard University Board of Overseers from 1998 to 2005.

Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) represents the 3rd District in the California State Senate, which includes the eastern half of the City and County of San Francisco, all of Marin County, and portions of Sonoma County.  Senator Migden was first elected to the Senate in November of 2004.

Currently, Senator Migden is chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus and also serves as Chair of the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.  In 2004, she began serving as Chair of the Appropriations Committee:

Prior to being elected to the Senate, Carole Migden served as Chairwoman of the California Board of Equalization (BOE); the nation’s only publicly elected tax commission; represented San Francisco’s 13th District in the California State Assembly; and for five years served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

During her tenure at the BOE Senator Migden worked to modernize the state’s outdated tax system and manage taxpayers’ money responsibly. Her accomplishments at the BOE included strengthening domestic partners’ property rights, leveling the playing field between Main Street and on-line retailers, protecting California’s precious open space, and advocating for increased revenues to fund vital services by eliminating obsolete tax breaks.

In the State Assembly, Migden served for five years as Chairwoman of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. She was the first woman and the first freshman legislator to chair that influential committee. For four years she also served as a conferee on the state’s Joint Budget Conference Committee, which writes the final version of California’s state budget.In that time Carole Migden authored legislation to create California’s landmark domestic partner registry, promote children’s health, preserve the old growth Headwaters Forrest, increase accountability in K-12 schools, protect borrowers from predatory and deceptive lending practices, protect consumers from manipulation by energy generators, and promote the use of emergency contraception.

Senator Migden has received numerous awards for her service. California Journal named her among California’s power elite of women elected officials and awarded her with their “Rookie of the Year” award in 1998, taking top honors in the categories of most integrity, most intelligence, hardest working, most ambitious, and most influential. She received “Legislator of the Year” honors in 1999 from the California School Employees Association and in 2001 from the California National Organization for Women (NOW), as well as leadership awards from prominent environmental and civil rights organizations. She continues to receive high honors in California Journal’s annual rankings, including “Quick Study” in 2002.

Carole Migden is a longtime member of, and current super-delegate to, the Democratic National Committee. She also served as chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party for eight years.

Will There Be an LGBT Legislative Caucus after November? Yes!

Although there have been reports that the California LGBT Legislative Caucus is in danger of extinction the truth is that in January 2009 it is very likely that it will be as large as ever.

The only current members of the LGBT Caucus who are not termed out are State Senators Christine Kehoe and Carole Migden. However, Migden is facing a tough primary fight which she is very likely to lose.

Here is a table showing the members of the LGBT caucus for the current legislative sessiob and a projection of what the caucus will look like after being sworn in in January 2009.

January 2007                       January 2009
Mark Leno (AD-13)                  Tom Ammiano (AD-13)
John Laird (AD-27)                 John Perez (AD-46)
                                   Chris Cabaldon (AD-8)
State Senate
Christine Kehoe (SD-39)            Christine Kehoe (SD-39)
Carole Migden (SD-3)               Mark Leno (SD-3)
Sheila Kuehl (SD-23)

In addition, there’s the possibility that Laurette Healey may win her primary to replace

Assemblymember Lloyd Levine in the 40th Assembly District and it’s possible that Greg Pettis will win his primary in the 80th district (but it’s unlikely he will win the general election in this Republican-leaning district).

Health Care Reform Effort Appears To Flatline

((bumped, as reports come in of AB X 1 1 failing 10-1 in committee.  In the end, even Don Perata announced that he could not support the bill. – promoted by David Dayen)

It looks like the dream of major health care reform is over in California, at least for this year.  The LA Times reports:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s yearlong effort to arrange medical insurance for nearly all Californians will be rejected by a state Senate panel this afternoon, according to people familiar with the decision.

The move would effectively kill one of the governor’s most ambitious policy goals.

Senate President Don Perata (D-Oakland) made the decision after canvassing Democratic senators over the weekend and finding almost no support for the measure, which the Assembly passed last month.

There was some thought that Perata would use some parliamentary maneuvers to ensure the bill’s passage, but apparently he couldn’t find anyone to create a majority for the measure.

Anthony York openly wonders whether or not this spells the end of the current leadership structure in the state Legislature.

But watching the California Legislature in action last week felt like watching the end of an era — and bearing witness to the creation of a power vacuum. In a political ballet that played out over several days, the prospects for two seemingly unrelated but intimately connected political issues — a healthcare reform bill and a change in the state’s term-limits law — withered simultaneously. And as their fortunes sank, so did the power of the current legislative leadership […]

Then more bad news for the healthcare bill. Mid-afternoon Wednesday, Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) announced that she too was voting against the legislation, citing concerns about the affordability of the mandated insurance.After her vote, a senator who sits on the committee characterized the situation as a “total implosion.” He told me that the rumored poll numbers on Proposition 93 were making it harder to get the healthcare bill out of committee. If the prospects for the initiative’s passage were as bad as the numbers suggested, he said, the stigma of a lame duck, and a corresponding loss of influence, might attach to Perata and Nuñez.

Let me say that health care reform may end in California for now, but it does not end nationally, and indeed one has little effect on the other.  This is still something in which Americans are broadly in favor.  And it’s still a framework that every Democratic candidate has laid out.  With a new Democratic President, health care reform will be at the top of the agenda, and at the federal level it has a far greater chance of being fiscally sustainable.  There are still significant measures that could be taken in California that would improve conditions, in particular mandating guaranteed issue and expanding public programs.  But the perils and pitfalls of balancing an enormous overhaul on an unsteady budgetary picture proved too great.

UPDATE: Ezra Klein, echoing a familiar theme:

I’m not shocked, or even particularly saddened, by this. It never really looked to me like the finances worked out, and though the political coalition around the bill was heartening and impressive, the rabid dead-enders of the Californian GOP (they’re actually worse than national Republicans) wouldn’t allow even a cent of new money, and without a truly stable funding source, you really can’t do this at the state level. Indeed, money is why all these state plans fail. For fiscal reasons, this has to be a federal initiative. Because states are more politically flexible than the federal government, they can often seem a more viable arena for health reform. But the policies always collapse.

No Health Care Vote Today

Apparently Sen. Perata needs some more time to rearrange the chairs on the Senate Health Committee.

Sheila Kuehl, Chair of the California Senate Health Committee that is holding a hearing on AB X1 1, the Nunez-Schwarzenegger health coverage bill, has just announced that a vote on the bill by the committee will not take place until Monday. She announced that the delay in the vote on the bill was requested by Senate President pro Tem Don Perata, who is a coauthor of the bill […]

The building is rife with rumors as to Senators being asked to step down from the committee or asking to be taken off of it, and other procedural moves to get the bill out of the committee. With vote postponed, that gives additional time to possibly amend the bill, change the committee membership, and for those on one side or the other of the issue to bombard their Senators with calls, emails, and visits. The outcome is unknown as well as whether Perata will take extraordinary measures to move the bill.

With the LAO report today giving little cover to those pushing the reform (if the average premium is $300 per person, as the LAO expects, the program is underfunded in the first year), and both Kuehl, Yee, and possibly Gloria McLeod wavering, obviously some serious efforts are being made to turn this ship around.  The SF Chronicle had a very good article about this today.

Stay tuned.  It should be a wild weekend in the Capitol.