Equality Act, State Budget Forum, and Club Meeting Next Week!

Democrats for Equality,

Earlier this week, Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats introduced H.R. 5, the Equality Act — a bill that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to classes protected against discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

If the bill were to be passed and signed into law, it would be the first nondiscrimination law for LGBTQ Americans at the national level.

21 states, including California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and D.C. have LGBTQ discrimination protections laws on the books.

Among our local delegation, Representatives Scott PetersMike Levin, and Juan Vargas all tweeted out their support for H.R. 5

As of Wednesday afternoon I didn’t catch a tweet of support from Congresswoman Susan Davis, but she has been a longtime ally of our LGBTQ community. She co-sponsored the Equality Act in a previous session of Congress, so there’s no need to think that she wouldn’t be supportive of this year’s Equality Act.

Radio silence, of course, from Congressman Duncan Hunter.

In other news… later this month, our Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Senator Ben Hueso, and Assemblymembers Dr. Shirley Weber and Lorena Gonzalez are hosting an informational community forum on the state budget, and how it affects the San Diego region.

The forum will be held on Thursday, March 28 at the Educational Cultural Complex (4343 Ocean View Blvd. in San Diego) from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP at this link.

Finally, our new executive board will be sworn-in at our club meeting next week on Thursday, March 21 at 7:00pm. We’ll be meeting at Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest.

We will be honoring and thanking our outgoing executive board members —Craig Roberts, Mary Latibashvili, and Sapphire Blackwood for their contributions in service to our incredible club. We’ll have something special for Will Rodriguez-Kennedy to honor his leadership as our club president, too!

And we will swear-in our new 2019-2020 Executive Board:

President: Ryan Trabuco (me)
Vice President for Resource Development: Amy Kuhn
Vice President for Political Action: Susan Guinn
Secretary: Rickie Brown
Controller: Carlos Salazar
Sergeant-at-Arms: Ryan Darsey
Board Members At-Large: Michelle Krug, Ilka Weston, Brandon Coopersmith, Andrea Cubitt
Immediate Past President: Will Rodriguez-Kennedy

The next chapter for San Diego Democrats for Equality begins next week, and we hope to see you there!

In Solidarity,

Ryan Trabuco
Vice President for Resource Development
San Diego Democrats for Equality

Our Friend, Armando

President Jimmy Carter shakes Armando Rodriguez’s hand after a swearing-in ceremony in 1978. (AP file photo)

Armando M. Rodriguez
September 20, 1921 – February 17th, 2019

Dear Democrats for Equality,

I often think of our club as an extended family. The history that so many members have together, the relationships built in times of struggle and times of triumph run deep. That is why days like today are particularly difficult. It is my sad duty to report that our friend and longtime club member, Armando M. Rodriguez, passed away last Sunday.

Born in Gomez Palacio, Mexico, Rodriguez came to San Diego with his family in 1927. He joined the U.S. Army during World War II, became a U.S. citizen, and eventually graduated from San Diego State University with a master’s degree in special education.

Armando Rodriguez worked as a teacher, school administrator, and became the first Latino principal at San Diego Unified. Although he had a wonderfully successful career in education, politics was also Armando’s passion.

He helped run the “Viva Kennedy” campaign in the 1960 Presidential Election, and ran for State Assembly in 1962. After organizing a walkout protest against racial bias with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to lead the Office of Spanish-Speaking American Affairs in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

In 1978, Rodriguez had the honor of being named head of EEOC by President Jimmy Carter.

Our club’s mantra of “Our Members Make History” certainly rings true for Armando Rodriguez. He made history, and helped pave the way forward for so many others.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, March 5th at 11:00am at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 1170 Kearny Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113. Rosary preceding at 10:00am.

This weekend, I hope you will join me in keeping his friends and family in your thoughts as we remember our friend, Armando.

May he rest in power.

Sincerely,

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
President,
San Diego Democrats for Equality

Congratulations Newly Elected 2019 Executive Board!

Democrats for Equality,

Last night, I adjourned my last meeting as president of the San Diego Democrats for Equality and I have to say I am a bit emotional about it.

I walked into this club a feisty, misguided Republican, but through love and patience the members of this club forged me into the leader of the Democratic Party.

As president, I have been honored to lead our club to amazing heights — we diversified our board, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, registered thousands of new voters, played a major role in securing a Democratic super-majority on the San Diego City Council, and electing a third of that council from our LGBT community.

There have also been mistakes, lessons learned and difficult challenges. As president I always strived to my best.

Now I leave the club in the hands of a new generation of leadership, with my best friend as president. I could not be prouder of our club’s role in our community and in our party, and I am proud to pass the torch to them.

I would like to thank our outgoing executive board members — Craig Roberts, Mary Latibashvili, and Sapphire Blackwood for their contributions in service to our incredible club.

And offer my sincerest congratulations to our newly elected 2019-2020 Executive Board:

President: Ryan Trabuco
Vice President for Resource Development: Amy Kuhn
Vice President for Political Action: Susan Guinn
Secretary: Rickie Brown
Controller: Carlos Salazar
Sergeant-at-Arms: Ryan Darsey
Board Members At-Large: Michelle Krug, Ilka Weston, Brandon Coopersmith, Andrea Cubitt
Immediate Past President: myself (Will Rodriguez-Kennedy)

Our new executive board will be sworn-in at our next club meeting next month on Thursday, March 21st at 7:00pm. More information about our next meeting will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

I wish the best to the incoming administration, and may they have fair winds and following seas.

Pa’lante!

In Solidarity,

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
President,
San Diego Democrats for Equality

Club Meeting Thursday & #HillcrestStrong

Democrats for Equality,

Our February meeting will be this Thursday (Feb 21) at 7:00pm at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest. Address is 3900 Vermont Street.

Other than officer elections, we will be discussing and voting on a couple bylaw proposals to diversify the club’s incoming executive board. Among the changes to be discussed, include:

  • Eliminating gender-specific language throughout the bylaws,
  • Re-naming and re-organizing the Treasurer position to Controller,
  • Creating the officer position of Sergeant-at-Arms, and
  • Elevating the club’s Associate Members to the county party into board-level Regional Director positions.

If the bylaw changes pass at our next meeting, we will also move ahead and have an election for Sergeant-at-Arms.

A full review of these proposed changes can be found here.

Also, Club President (and party chair) Will Rodriguez-Kennedy will offer his vision and goals for our party moving into the 2020 elections.

Last week, Will was featured in a San Diego Union-Tribune article regarding his election as party chair.

Finally, another event happening this week is the #HillcrestStrong Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday (Feb 20), from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

We are all aware of the rash of crime that has afflicted some of our neighborhoods in recent weeks. We will not tolerate hate crime in our communities. If you are interested in attending, please check the information on the flyer below.

See you Thursday at our club meeting — and bring a friend!

In Solidarity,

Ryan Trabuco
Vice President for Resource Development
San Diego Democrats for Equality

Incoming Club President Ryan Trabuco & South Bay Youth Center Opening!

RSVP to the South Bay Youth Center Ribbon Ceremony here!

Democrats for Equality,

This is my first club communication to everyone since it was announced that I will be succeeding Will as our Club President in March. More on that in a bit, but first…

This Saturday, the San Diego LGBT Community Center will be cutting the ribbon on their new South Bay Youth Center in Chula Vista, which will offer drop-in and recreational services for LGBTQ and non-binary youth and their families and allies.

Programming at the new South Bay Youth Center will be similar to that offered at the Hillcrest Youth Center, and the expansion into the South Bay is certainly to be celebrated.

The ribbon cutting event will be held at 1180 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP here.

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Padilla, Southwestern College Trustee Nora Vargas, and the Center’s CEO Cara Dessert will offer remarks for this momentous occasion.

Club President (and Party Chair) Will Rodriguez-Kennedy was interviewed this week on KUSI about his vision for moving the party forward into the 2020 elections. Check out the full interview here.

Speaking of Will, as has been previously mentioned, our next club meeting will be his last full meeting as our Club President. He announced his resignation as Club President effective March 21st.

For background, in accordance with our club’s bylaws, the Vice President of Resource Development (me) succeeds the President in the event of a vacancy.

Now, I’m going to take a minute to brag a little bit about my predecessor, and my best friend.

I met Will about 11 years ago. He had recently just triumphed over homelessness after being discharged by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He served our country honorably — in a time of war — in the United States Marine Corps, but because he was gay our country told him he wasn’t good enough.

Some time after that, I encouraged him to apply for a vacancy on the San Diego County Veterans Advisory Council as a way to help tell his story and provide some perspective on what it’s like being a gay veteran. He did apply, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and served there for a number of years.

At 25, he was elected Co-Chair of San Diego LGBT Pride a multi-million dollar organization that runs the Pride festival — our city’s largest annual civic event. That is an impressive feat.

Will crisscrossed the state, stepped foot in places where “Democrat” is a 4-letter word, built relationships in nearly every single county in California, and encouraged young democrats to step-up and run for office. Last year, he was elected President of the California Young Democrats.

Over the last 11 years, I have seen Will develop into the leader he is today. I am his Vice President and I can tell you that Will is fierce. Courageous. Passionate. The honest-to-God personification of what it means to be bold and brave.

Will, of course, is moving on to bigger and better things! He is among the youngest club presidents we have ever had, and now is the youngest Chair in the history of our San Diego County Democratic Party.

Interestingly enough, at 31-years-old, Will is the youngest Chair of a county Democratic Party out of the Top 10 most populated counties in the United States.

That is a significant achievement.

I have seen Will stand strong against the headwinds of closed doors… “NO’s”… the “I’m sorry, buts”… criticisms… unnecessary attacks… vitriol… and straight-up hate.

And yet, he marches forward.

That’s the kind of courage we should all aspire to. Will is who I want to be when I grow up.

In a county long-defined because of our ties to the border and the military, it’s also significant that Will happens to be a young, gay, Latino, and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran — and that is a narrative that our club, our members, and our party should be highlighting. Proudly. Especially in the face of this Trump era.

We’ve long said at our club meetings that, ” our members make history.” Will is making history. Every day.

His leadership is leaving behind some significant milestones and achievements for our club. Speaking just in terms of voter registration, voter outreach, fundraising, candidates elected, etc.

It will be a fun challenge to live up to, but I am absolutely up to the task.

I would like to thank everyone for their heartfelt congratulations and well-wishes through this club leadership transition. Hopefully, you will allow me the opportunity to call on you or lean-in for advice during the best of times, and the not-so-fun times.

Our club is like family. We have an amazing history, and it’s a history that we can learn from. It’s a history we can continue to build from, while also expanding on our club’s mission: to unify and organize all those interested in supporting and furthering progressive democratic values.

It will be an honor to step-up to lead our club forward.

One of the top priorities we should maybe consider is smashing that glass ceiling in East County. We are proud to have LGBTQ elected officials in other areas throughout our county — Steve Padilla in Chula Vista, Cori Schumacher in Carlsbad, and Joe Mosca in Encinitas. Whether it’s for city council, or mayor, or school board, or a college board, or a health board, or any other special district, there is no reason we can’t add to that roster of trailblazers in East County.

We can expand upon that later, but that’s just something I want to throw out to all of our club members now to think about.

First up, let’s get through our next club meeting!

Our February meeting will be next Thursday (Feb 21) at 7:00pm at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest. Address is 3900 Vermont Street.

Other than officer elections, we will be discussing and voting on a couple bylaw proposals to diversify the club’s incoming executive board. Among the changes to be discussed, include:

  • Eliminating gender-specific language throughout the bylaws,
  • Re-naming and re-organizing the Treasurer position to Controller,
  • Creating the officer position of Sergeant-at-Arms, and
  • Elevating the club’s Associate Members to the county party into board-level Regional Director positions.

If the bylaw changes pass at our next meeting, we will also move ahead and have an election for Sergeant-at-Arms.

A full review of these proposed changes can be found here.

Finally, Happy Valentine’s Day! Make love, not war — and see you next week!

In Solidarity,

Ryan Trabuco
Vice President for Resource Development
San Diego Democrats for Equality

VOSD Podcast and Bylaws Proposal

Party Chair Will Rodriguez-Kennedy (left) and County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher (right)

Democrats for Equality,

The outpouring of congratulations from club members, elected officials, and friends across the state has been overwhelming, but very much appreciated.

This week, club member and our county party’s South Area Vice Chair Kelvin Barrios was elected Chair Pro Tem.

Along with Vice Chairs Becca Taylor and Jason Bercovitch, Secretary Orem Robinson, and GO Team Director Kyle Doria, this constitutes the youngest executive board for our county Democratic Party.

Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts, and Sara Libby from Voice of San Diego invited me into their studio to talk about our vision for the party going forward into the 2020 elections. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast, you can do that here.

Our next club meeting will be Thursday, February 21st. It will be my last full meeting as President of San Diego Democrats for Equality.

I will preside over our officer elections, and then after swearing-in our new officers at our March 21st meeting, I will hand the gavel over to my best friend and Vice President for Resource Development, Ryan Trabuco.

Ryan will lead our club from there. He has significant experience as a president having served four terms as president of the Clairemont Town Council. He will do an excellent job and I have complete faith in his abilities to take the lead.

Although, it has been an honor to lead this club, we still have some work to do.

At our meeting this month, we will be discussing and voting on a couple bylaw proposals to diversify the club’s incoming executive board. Among the changes to be discussed, include:

  • Eliminating gender-specific language throughout the bylaws,
  • Re-naming and re-organizing the Treasurer position to Controller,
  • Creating the officer position of Sergeant-at-Arms, and
  • Elevating the club’s Associate Members to the county party into board-level Regional Director positions.

So, if the bylaw changes pass at our next meeting, we will also move ahead and have an election for Sergeant-at-Arms.

A full review of these proposed changes can be found here.

Hope to see you all at our next meeting on Thursday, February 21st!

In Solidarity,

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
President,
San Diego Democrats for Equality