The Old Order Changes

San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Will Rodriguez-Kennedy (left) swears-in the new executive board of San Diego Democrats for Equality

Democrats for Equality,

The old order changeth” — quoted from a dark and dreary Tennyson poem, of which I find most British poetry to be.

Either way, our new executive board has been sworn-in, and we are excited to continue moving our club forward.

At last week’s meeting, our club voted to formally call on Kevin Beiser to resign. This decision comes in the aftermath of four accusers — three of them members of our club — who stepped forward with accusations of sexual assault and harassment.

As I mentioned last week: when there’s four, there’s likely more.

Sexual assault and harassment will not be accepted or tolerated by the San Diego Democrats for Equality.

The San Diego County Democratic Party’s Central Committee, all of our LGBT elected officials, as well as every member of the San Diego Unified School Board have publicly asked for Mr. Beiser to step down.

As President of San Diego Democrats for Equality, I do want to commend the bravery of those victims for stepping forward and telling their story. None of us can likely imagine the pain, suffering, and trauma those victims suffered — only to have to relive the nightmare in a very public way all over again. Coming forward is not easy, and it’s unfortunately, one of the reasons why so many cases of sexual assault or harassment are never reported.

Today, we all know the name Harvey Weinstein. If you recall, much of that abuse reportedly happened over the better part of two decades, and it was less than 18 months ago that a number of victims felt empowered to step forward to tell their story.

Last year, the world watched Dr. Ford tell her story of abuse from a less-than-qualified frat bro who now serves on the U.S. Supreme Court because… reasons.

After the November 2018 elections, I took a phone call and listened to a deeply personal story from a victim of our former state party chair. Around the same time, I found out that my best friend was also a victim from that same individual. Through Facebook, I discovered another friend of mine was a victim. I know three of the victims in this new case, and again — they are members of this club, and I can’t seem to stress that enough.

It is a reasonable expectation that if any of us are going to be activists, employed, or otherwise involved within the Democratic Party, that we not be sexually assaulted or harassed while doing so.

Our culture has to change. Society has to change. The conversations we need to have on this issue have to change.

For all that needing to change, I believe the old order is changing, however slowly.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, please know that LGBTQ competent survivor support is available to you via the San Diego LGBT Community Center. If you’re in need of help, please call 619.692.2077 ext.208 to speak to an on-duty counselor.

The North County LGBT Resource Center can also offer assistance at 760.994.1690.

Also, if you are interested, the San Diego LGBT Community Center will host a #MeToo LGBTQ Conference on Saturday, April 27 from 9am to 5:30pm.

On a much less serious note… NBC News reported that a number of U.S. House members and Senators hosted the transgender pride flag outside their offices ahead of International Transgender Day of Visibility on Sunday.
At last week’s club meeting, we voted to add some additional questions to our 2020 Candidate Questionnaire as we prepare to head into our first round of endorsements beginning with next month’s meeting. Our endorsement calendar for the 2020 Primary Election can be found here.

(Ryan!? Why so early though!? WTF is wrong with you!?)

Well, I’m glad you asked! As I mentioned at the meeting, our executive board thought it would be wise to get through a number of our endorsements — especially those seats that have historically been connected to our club — before Pride in July, largely so we can use that opportunity to highlight our endorsed candidates in the Pride Parade and at the club’s booth during the Pride festival.

Also, I’d like to remind everyone that the March 3rd Primary Election is less than a year away. The first ballots drop in January to overseas and military voters. Although it might seem early, let’s remember that our whole election calendar has been moved up and the clock is ticking. We are in an election year whether we want to admit that or not!

(That makes sense! Surely, you know what you’re doing!)

You’re very welcome. Also, don’t call me Shirley 🙂

So… I’ve included an Airplane! reference in my first communication as club president. Score one for movie trivia! Bonus points for anyone who can tell me the year it was released.

Also, Jean Huy-Tran, the newly elected President of the AAPI Democratic Club presented to our club members on some legislative bills regarding criminal justice reform, including:

  • AB 392, This bill is to raise the minimum standard requirement that allows police officer to use deadly force on civilian from “reasonable” to “necessary”. This law has not changed since 1872. If passed, the police officer will be required to exhaust all alternative tactics including de-escalation first.
  • SB 230, This bill requires POST to develop training. However, this training only includes “adequate consideration” of a list of subjects but without any specificity as to how that training should look like. In addition, this bill does not require that any officer actually go through the training.
  • ACA 6, This bill is to restore the voting right of felons who have completed their sentence & are currently on the parole.
  • AB 1076, This bill is to eliminate the complicate court process of expunging arrest & conviction records & change it to automatic. This law will only apply to cases that are already eligible for expunge.

As a result, San Diego Democrats for Equality is officially in support of AB 392ACA 6, and AB 1076, while we are officially opposed to SB 230.

This Thursday, our Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, SenatorBen 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, save the date for Saturday, May 4th from 10am to noon. We will be hosting a brunch fundraiser for the club, and a host of our amazing LGBT elected officials will be there. Full details to follow next week!

Looking for a good complimentary close to these communications,

Ryan Trabuco
Club President
San Diego Democrats for Equality

Club Meeting This Week! The Next Chapter Begins…

Democrats for Equality,

This is the week! 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.

Due to ongoing discussions at the County Democratic Party regarding the equitable representation of Democratic clubs, we are going to hold off on the formerly-proposed language regarding adding Regional Directors onto our club’s Executive Board.

We will bring this proposal back at our April meeting with different language and will consider that item at that time.

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

Last weekend, we held a joint board meeting of our outgoing and incoming members of our club’s Executive Board. We will be bringing some small additions to our 2020 Candidate Questionnaire forward that we will ask club members to adopt.

Also, Jean Huy-Tran, the newly elected President of the AAPI Democratic Club has asked to present on some proposed legislative bills regarding criminal justice reform, including:

  • AB 392, this bill is to raise the minimum standard requirement that allows police officer to use deadly force on civilian from “reasonable” to “necessary”. This law has not changed since 1872. If passed, the police officer will be required to exhaust all alternative tactics including de-escalation first.
  • SB 230, this bill requires POST to develop training. However, this training only includes “adequate consideration” of a list of subjects but without any specificity as to how that training should look like. In addition, this bill does not require that any officer actually go through the training.
  • ACA 6, this bill is to restore the voting right of felons who have completed their sentence & are currently on the parole.
  • AB 1076, this bill is to eliminate the complicate court process of expunging arrest & conviction records & change it to automatic. This law will only apply to cases that are already eligible for expunge.

He is looking for our club to weigh in on those four bills, so we may take action to formally support or oppose those legislative proposals.

Finally — and, this will be a difficult topic to discuss — so, bear with me. We will formally take action on a resolution calling for the resignation of Kevin Beiser as a member of the San Diego Unified School Board.

This week, one of our own LGBTQ elected officials — an individual that our club has stood behind and endorsed for THREE elections — was accused by four men of sexual assault and harassment. If you would like to read the full story by Andy Keatts from Voice of San Diego, you may do so at this link.

Yesterday, our club released a statement.

I am going to reiterate what was said at the top of that statement, because maybe some folks in the back of the room didn’t hear the message loud and clear…

Sexual harassment and assault will not be accepted or tolerated by the San Diego Democrats for Equality.

So, imagine my complete shock when I received a number of e-mails expressing their disappointment about our statement. Not that it didn’t go far enough, no — but that we even made it at all.

Listen, I am not going to pretend to understand someone’s ultimate rationale on why they didn’t want our club to issue that statement, or wax poetic about what color the sky is in someone’s world.

What I am going to say is this: a member of this club — an LGBTQ elected, public official no less — has been accused by four individuals of sexual assault and harassment. When there’s four, there’s likely more.

Furthermore, I want you to comprehend the following concept: that some of the individuals — who have gone public, and were brave enough to step up and put their own names out there for the world to see — are also fellow members of the club. Take a moment, and think about that.

As of Thursday evening, I will have the honor of becoming this club’s newest president. It will not just be my duty, but the duty of our new executive board, and our duty as fellow club members to ensure that our meeting spaces are also save spaces for our members, for our guests, for our candidates, and for anyone interested in joining and becoming a member of this long-storied club.

How are our members, guests, candidates, and anyone else interested in becoming a member of our family here supposed to think when they feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or in danger at any one of our meetings or events because someone couldn’t keep their hands, arms, legs, and other bodily appendages to themselves?

What kind of environment are we creating?

What kind of example are we setting — not just for ourselves — but, for other Democratic clubs? If that truly is the image and perception that we are putting out there to people.

We can expand on this more another time, but I am telling all of you upfront… right now… We absolutely made the right call issuing that statement.

Last night, the San Diego County Democratic Party voted 58-4 to officially call for Mr. Beiser’s resignation.

I formally made that motion as a member of the Central Committee, and was proud to do so. It was the right thing to do.

As the next club president, we are not going to run an organization that does not take sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations seriously.

If you have a problem with that philosophy, then by all means when your membership comes up for renewal — please do us a favor, do not renew.

We will grow this club to a 1,000 members, and we will do it by gaining more members who understand that the old order is changing. We will grow this club by doing the right thing. We will grow this club by being the conscience of our Democratic Party.

That is the commitment I am making to all of you moving forward.

Ending on a much less dramatic note…

Next week, 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.

Hope to see you all on Thursday!

Your Club VP (for 1 more day)

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

Statement Regarding Accusations of Sexual Assault by San Diego Unified School Board President and Trustee Kevin Beiser

For Immediate Release

First, and foremost, sexual harassment and assault will not be accepted or tolerated by the San Diego Democrats for Equality.

The action and behavior that has been alleged against San Diego Unified School Board President and Trustee Kevin Beiser stand in direct conflict with the values of our Democratic club.

We are deeply disappointed and offended that any elected official — especially a member of our LGBTQ community — would behave and act so inappropriately in the manner alleged against Mr. Beiser.

The San Diego Democrats for Equality stand on the side of justice and support for those survivors and victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

In light of these serious allegations, we will be bringing forth an emergency resolution calling for Mr. Beiser to resign.

Signed,

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
President
San Diego Democrats for Equality

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

About San Diego Democrats for Equality

Founded in 1975 as the San Diego Democratic Club, the San Diego Democrats for Equality is the largest membership-based democratic club in San Diego County. The club’s mission aims to unify and organize all those interested in supporting and furthering progressive democratic values guaranteed to all Americans regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or age.

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Media Contact:
Ryan Trabuco
VP for Resource Development
619.453.5599
[email protected]

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