Three of Santa Cruz County’s state legislators — Assemblymember Dawn Addis, Sen. John Laird and Assemblymember Gail Pellerin — proudly outline strides our state has made in assuring that the rights of LGBTQIA+ people are protected. That includes codifying same-sex marriage, offering support for students in schools and for foster students, offering inclusive health care policies for LGBTQIA+ people and establishing all-gender restroom policies. They explain the details and why this matters here.
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As your state legislative representatives, it is our honor and our duty to serve in a way that fosters safe, affirming and inclusive communities. It is our job to make sure our laws and budget do the same.
For a democracy to thrive, it is essential that all people — not just some people — receive the respect, appreciation and opportunities they deserve.
Tragically, LGBTQIA+ children and adults experience the dehumanizing effects of bullying, suicide, sexual abuse, intimate-partner violence, lack of health care and being unhoused at higher rates than others. A wave of assaults on transgender youth on school campuses has left many students and families afraid in places they should feel the safest — our institutions of learning. These experiences are often exacerbated for LGBTQIA+ people of color, and those who are undocumented, have lower incomes or live in rural communities.
We are proud to say that the California Legislature has the backs of the LGBTQIA+ community. In the legislature this year, we worked to pass legislation that continues to uplift and protect LGBTQIA+ children and adults.
This includes codifying the right to same-sex marriage in the California Constitution (Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5), providing educators with tools and training to support LGBTQIA+ students (Assembly Bill 5 and Senate Bill 857, both signed by the governor), ensuring health insurance policies include coverage for gender-affirming care (AB 1432), strengthening protections for LGBTQ+ foster youth (SB 407, signed by the governor) and improving all-gender restroom access (SB 760 and AB 783, both signed by the governor).
This legislation is the product of the most diverse state legislature in U.S. history. California is the first state to have had an openly LGBTQIA+ state Senate leader, and the first in our nation to reach parity for LGBTQIA+ people — 10% in both the state legislature and the general population. The intersex-inclusive Progress Pride flag hung in the Capitol rotunda to celebrate Pride month.
While we have made progress, division and violence often leave us in despair, and laws alone will not create the society we want. It is up to each of us to make a difference. There is no shortage of ways to do this.
It starts with listening to the LGBTQIA+ community, then taking action to create real and meaningful structural change. Collectively, we must continue to show up, speak up, vote, run for office and remain vigilant in protecting the progress we have made. It is our responsibility to ensure inclusivity for all, not just a selected few.
Today, our democracy is both as fragile and resilient as it has ever been, because the people in it are both as under attack and as strong as they have been for generations. Together we must work for the LGBTQIA+ community, and our democracy as a whole, so that all people can experience the safe and affirming environment that each of us deserves to live and thrive in.
Assemblymember Addis represents the 30th Assembly District, Sen. Laird represents the 17th Senate District, Assemblymember Pellerin represents the 28th Assembly District.