- Josh Koehn
- Communications Director
SACRAMENTO—Members of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus elected Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) to serve as Chair for the 2021-2022 legislative session, while Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) will serve as Vice Chair.
The election of Assemblymember Low to a second term as Chair — he previously held the position from 2017-2018 — comes at a critical time for the Caucus. Transgender rights have been under assault by the Trump administration, and the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than a quarter-million people worldwide and nearly 2,000 in California. Meanwhile, the pandemic has put millions of Californians out of work, including thousands of LGBTQ+ workers and business owners.
“We have seen firsthand how the federal government has abdicated its responsibility in dealing with the pandemic, but California has never waited for permission to take the lead,” Assemblymember Low said. “As we move closer toward a vaccine, the pandemic will remain the Caucus’ top priority as we seek to protect LGBTQ+ residents’ health and prosperity.”
The Legislative LGBTQ Caucus was formed in 2002, making California the first state in the nation to create a forum for state legislators to discuss issues that affect LGBTQ+ Californians and further the goals of equality and justice. This year marks a historic milestone as three new members joined the LGBTQ Caucus, including the first bisexual member, to keep the total membership at a record high of eight members from the Assembly and Senate.
“I want to welcome our new members — Senator John Laird and Assemblymembers Alex Lee and Chris Ward — who will no doubt add to the diversity of thought and representation that has been a hallmark of the LGBTQ Caucus since its founding,” Assemblymember Low said. “I’d also like to thank Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and former Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) for their tireless work as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, these last two years. They are the embodiment of public servants, and the leadership they have shown has been nothing short of exceptional.”
Under the leadership of former Senator Wiener and Gloria, who recently was elected Mayor of San Diego, the LGBTQ Caucus positioned itself as a fierce opponent to the Trump administration’s attacks on transgender rights and found success in increasing Californians’ access to HIV prevention drugs.
“Serving as Chair of our Legislative LGBTQ Caucus the past two years has been a deep honor,” Senator Wiener said. “We’ve accomplished a lot as a Caucus — passing aggressive LGBTQ+ civil rights legislation, helping elect LGBTQ+ members of the Legislature, and ensuring our community always has a seat at the table. I look forward to continuing to work to advance our Caucus and our community and to supporting the leadership of Assemblymember Low and Senator Talamantes Eggman over the next two years.”
Senator Talamantes Eggman, an Army veteran who was first elected to the State Assembly in 2012 after becoming the first openly gay Councilmember in the City of Stockton, said she is “honored to once again serve in the leadership of the LGBTQ Caucus as Vice Chair alongside Chair Low.” In. November, she was elected to serve in the State Senate.
“Having served as Chair during my time in the Assembly, I know how important it is to have a strong and committed partner in leading any Caucus, but especially one that fights for justice and equity for some of the most impacted people in our society during an unprecedented public health crisis,” Senator Talamantes Eggman said. “There’s no question we’ve made great progress here in California, but there is still so much work that simply cannot wait when lives are on the line.”
The LGBTQ Caucus’ top priorities include advocating for diversity and the inclusion of all people, including those with disabilities. Members diligently work to support LGBTQ+ leaders who represent our community at the local, state, and federal levels.
“Equality California congratulates Assemblymember Evan Low and Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman on their election as Chair and Vice Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus,” said Rick Chavez Zbur, executive director of Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. “The Caucus is our strongest partner in the fight to pass cutting-edge pro-equality legislation in Sacramento, and we look forward to working closely with them to achieve a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people. Under the experienced leadership of Chair Low and Vice Chair Talamantes Eggman, Equality California and the LGBTQ Caucus are well-positioned to continue improving the lives of LGBTQ+ Californians and the diverse communities to which we belong.”
Assemblymember Low’s career achievements include legislation that requires LGBTQ+ training for law enforcement, the official recognition of Pride Month in California, banned travel to states that allow anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, and helped update rules regarding draconian restrictions on gay blood donations. He expressed optimism about the LGBTQ Caucus’ efforts for the coming year in partnership with Governor Gavin Newsom, as the state Legislature and Governor have consistently joined forces to encourage greater diversity and representation in the Assembly and Senate.
“Governor Newsom has been a steadfast ally of the LGBTQ+ community, from his time as mayor of San Francisco and his efforts to legalize same-sex marriage to his decision to appoint Martin Jenkins as the first openly gay justice to serve on the California Supreme Court,” Assemblymember Low said. “I look forward to working with the Governor as we move closer to distributing a vaccine, restoring the economy and creating a more just society for all Californians.”
Assemblymember Low’s appointment to a second term as Chair of the Caucus also received praise from faith leaders, who have increasingly engaged with the LGBTQ+ community thanks to Assemblymember Low’s outreach and efforts to find common ground on issues where compromises can be reached.
“I have appreciated Evan’s willingness to graciously listen in attempting to understand positions that are not his own,” said Dr. Kevin Mannoia, Pastoral Coach at the Rock Church in San Diego and the former University Chaplain of Azusa Pacific University. “Even though we have differences of opinion, I have been privileged to work with him in forging successful efforts for the good of all people. He is a man of his word, and he has always related to me with honesty and integrity. It has been my privilege to get to know him and work through difficult issues to a successful outcome. I look forward to future opportunities to work together.”
Assemblymember Low was elected in 2014 to the State Assembly, where he represents District 28 constituents in Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and parts of San Jose. He is also Chair of the Committee on Business and Professions, Vice Chair of the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, and the co-Chair of the Legislative Technology & Innovation Caucus.