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Congratulations to California Governor Brown and Lt. Governor Newsom
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 03/11/14
Last updated on: 03/11/14
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Gavin Newsom (left) and Jerry Brown.

On March 10, 2014, at a reception in Sacramento, Equality California honored Governor Jerry Brown and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom for their leadership in the struggle for equal rights.

As Juliet Williams reports for the Associated Press, Brown received the organization's Leadership Award in recognition of his lifelong commitment to equal rights. In presenting the award to him, Robert Ross pointed out that in 1979 Brown became the first governor in the United States to appoint a gay judge, and the first politician to "openly, powerfully and compellingly embrace gay rights" in the country.

Ross also cited Brown's support for several landmark laws since he became governor again in 2011, including legislation that forbids licensed professionals from offering reparative therapy to minors and a law that guarantees students in grades K-12 the right to use the school restrooms and to participate in the sex-segregated activities that correspond with their expressed genders instead of their school records.

In accepting the award, Governor Brown praised gay rights advocates for being on "the cutting edge" in pushing for equality.

"When people are in the shadows, the only way out is courage and being able to go against the grain and having allies," Brown said.

Brown observed that when he first became involved in politics, "there was nothing like the recognition, the appreciation or the respect that lesbian and gay, transgender, bisexual individuals now get."

"It's a sea change. And it really gives confidence that we do make a difference," Brown told the crowd of about 100.

Equality California honored Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom with its Vanguard award for initiating same-sex marriages in 2004 as mayor of San Francisco.

Although the marriages performed in San Francisco in 2004 were later nullified, the event played a significant role in underlining the need for marriage equality in California and across the country.

Brown praised Newsom for his bold action, saying "he probably did more in that one act as mayor of San Francisco than probably 1,000 laws. So action, courage, standing up when it isn't--when somebody isn't--that's what makes a leader."

Equality California (EQCA) is one of the largest statewide glbtq advocacy and civil rights organizations in the United States. EQCA has chapters throughout the state and maintains offices in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Following a period of upheaval after the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, the organization seems to have regained stability with the appointment of John O'Connor as executive director in 2012.

As the video below indicates, Governor Brown, who as Attorney General had refused to defend Proposition 8 after it was declared unconstitutional by Judge Vaughn Walker in 2010, acted swiftly to order county clerks in California to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples after the Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2013 made Walker's decision final.


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