Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Yee: TG vote caused pain


Assemblyman Leland Yee. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Assemblyman Leland Yee, locked in a tight race for a state Senate seat in the June Democratic primary, spoke to transgender activists Saturday, April 15 and acknowledged his opposition to the city's transgender health benefits legislation when he was a supervisor in 2001 was wrong.

Yee was discussing the landmark health benefits package that includes coverage of medical needs for transgender city employees. On April 30, 2001, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the package 9-2 – only Yee and then-Supervisor Tony Hall voted against it.

"What I said was that when I looked at the issue [in 2001] I was really focusing on the financial issue," Yee told the Bay Area Reporter Monday, April 18. "Had I known the pain I caused the transgender community on that particular vote, I would have never voted the way I did.

"To that extent I was sorry my vote caused the pain that it did," Yee added.

Yee and former San Mateo County Supervisor Mike Nevin are believed to be the front-runners in a closely fought contest to replace state Senator Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough/San Francisco), who is termed out of that office and running for lieutenant governor. The other Democrat in the race is former Assemblyman Lou Papan.

Yee's remarks came at a meeting held at the LGBT Community Center that was organized by his Senate campaign and members of San Francisco Transgender Empowerment, Advocacy, and Mentorship. Cecilia Chung, a member of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and deputy director of the Transgender Law Center, was one of those who attended.

"I think it's a great opportunity to build bridges between his office and the community," Chung told the B.A.R. "It's about setting aside differences and the past and moving forward."

Longtime transgender activist Tamara Ching, who's supporting Yee, also attended the meeting. She said she was pleased to hear Yee's remarks about the health benefits legislation, and pointed to his long record on LGBT issues.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who has endorsed Yee, told the B.A.R. he was glad Yee met with members of the transgender community.

"It's hard for people to admit they're wrong," Dufty said. "Leland's acknowledgment signifies that he has grown on this issue and he realized his position caused pain for people."

While in the Assembly, Yee has consistently voted for LGBT legislation and has a 100 percent ranking from Equality California. For the last two years has authored a bill that would prohibit the use of any negative appeal based on prejudice against LGBT people by candidates or campaign committees who sign the voluntary pledge provided for in the Code of Fair Campaign Practices. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill last year.

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