Online Extra: Political Notes: Galgiani joins Sacto LGBTcaucus

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Monday March 25, 2013
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State Senator Cathleen Galgiani has joined the legislature's<br>LGBT Caucus.
State Senator Cathleen Galgiani has joined the legislature's
LGBT Caucus.

Lesbian California state Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) has officially joined the California Legislative LGBT Caucus.

The Central Valley lawmaker was quietly added to the roster at the beginning of the year. Her office did not issue any press release about her joining, nor is it reflected on her biography on her official Senate website.

A little noticed January 9 press release on the re-election of gay Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) as the caucus' chair included Galgiani among the list of caucus members for the first time. One of her first official duties was to co-host the caucus' welcome back reception held in Sacramento January 14.

An update to the caucus's website " http://lgbtcaucus.legislature.ca.gov/ " was done with little fanfare to reflect the change in membership of the eight-person group following last year's elections. Another new addition this year is freshman lesbian Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), who was elected to the 13th Assembly District seat in November.

The other caucus members are Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles); Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego); and Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles).

The caucus' creation in 2002 marked the first time any state in the country had recognized an official caucus of openly-LGBT state legislators. It is currently the largest such caucus at a statehouse.

After Galgiani came out publicly in the fall of 2011, she did not join the LGBT caucus. Despite her decision not to be listed as an official member, Galgiani did participate in its events.

Her attention last year was largely focused on her bid for the Senate seat. A month after talking about her sexual orientation with hometown newspaper the Stockton Record, she launched her campaign for a newly created swing district covering several San Joaquin County cities as well as parts of both Sacramento and Stanislaus counties.

Following the June 2012 primary Galgiani was embroiled in a hard fought fight for the 5th Senate District seat against her former colleague Assemblyman Bill Berryhill (R-Stockton). On Election Night it had appeared that Berryhill would be the victor, but by the time all votes were counted a few weeks later, it was Galgiani on top.

In late November the Bay Area Reporter urged the lawmaker to join the LGBT caucus in an editorial. Noting that she had stated her reason for coming out was in response to a rash of LGBT teen suicides, the B.A.R. urged Galgiani to "live up to her promise to be a role model for LGBT youth" by becoming a "full-fledged member" of the legislative group.

In response to questions from the B.A.R. this month, Galgiani spokesman and deputy chief of staff Thomas Lawson said that as a new state senator looking at the various caucuses to join, "obviously, the LGBT caucus was a natural fit for her."

He added that, "I don't think she was able to participate as much as she wanted to last year because of the highly competitive Senate race last year."

A champion of high-speed rail being built in California and chair of the powerful Senate Agriculture Committee, Galgiani has yet to take the lead on any LGBT legislation. She is not listed as carrying any of the five bills that Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, is sponsoring this year.

Asked why not, Thompson noted that the senator has introduced 20 bills this session and is on four standing committees, chairing one, and four select committees, chairing one. He said Galgiani is reviewing EQCA's legislative package and plans to select at least one bill to co-sponsor.

"We will go through the list to see what makes sense for her," he said.

Having proven her political prowess by capturing the newly created Senate seat in a conservative inland district, Galgiani is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. Her stature has led her name to be included among possible contenders to be the next Senate president pro tem in December 2014.

As the Political Notes column reported in February, Galgiani and her gay colleagues, Leno and Lara, are all in the mix as likely successors to state Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who is termed out next year.

Asked about her being mentioned for the leadership post, Thompson said he had "no comment."

To follow the LGBT caucus on Facebook, visit https://www.facebook.com/calgbt.

 

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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail m.bajko@ebar.com.