Good for Evan Low, and good for California’s LGBTQ residents.
Openly Gay Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), who was the first openly gay lawmaker in the U.S. state of California, is the chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus yet again. Low first served the role between 2017 and 2018. And now, he’ll be taking on the role again for 2021-2022, according to the Bay Area Reporter.
“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 in a statement after being elected in the role. “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.”
Unfortunately for Low, the circumstance of the job has set a tall obstacle. Partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, California’s economy is on the decline. It’s projected that California will have a $17 billion deficit by 2024-2025. With that, there’s a fear that there won’t be enough funds and resources to go toward LGBTQ initiatives.
“There is never enough resources and never enough capacity or time,” Low told the Bay Area Reporter. “We don’t want to be somber but we also need to be realistic given our budget constraints on what we can and cannot do.”
But, Evan Low is now back at the head of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. This group within the state legislature is dedicated to ensuring that the rights and needs of LGBTQ Californians are being met. In order to do that, Low is already in talks with Assemblyman Phil Ting, the chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, to see which LGBTQ programs and services will receive funding in the near future.
With Low and the helm of the recently expanded LGBTQ Caucus, LGBTQ Californians are better off. Though, they should also be cautious. Last month, 70-year-old state Senator John Laird became the oldest out member of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. Plus, state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman became the first out woman of color to serve in the Legislature’s upper chamber. Low now has a slightly larger group of allies to support him in his efforts to serve LGBTQ Californians. Though, the group is only at eight people.
That said, Evan Low hasn’t won every battle. While the politician has actively and aggressively pushed for LGBTQ rights, he has also lost that fight to lobbying from conservative Christians. In 2018, Evan Low dropped his anti-gay conversion therapy bill after talking to members of the clergy. Some Christian community members argued that the suggested bill would harm well-meaning counselors by outlawing free religious consoling to change sexual and gender identity. However, the bill was only targeting paid services. Despite that, Low dropped the bill.
Loss aside, Evan Law has continued to support LGBTQ citizens in California. For 2021, Low and his associates plan to resurface gay state Senator Scott Wiener’s bill on collecting demographic data including sexual and gender identities. Since 2018, California departments and agencies have failed at collecting data on how LGBTQ interact with social services and health care. Low and company have advocated for the collection of data in government services like police investigations. As such, supporting Wiener’s bill seems like a no brainer.
In addition, Low is looking at how to extend the longevity of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. As he did with Alex Lee, Low is hoping to find up-and-coming individuals to run for state Assembly and Senate seats in 2022. They hope to bolster the caucus’s roster and buff up its future.
As Low said, “It is important for us to prioritize as we head into next year.”
Source: Bay Area Reporter,