The California Legislative LGBT Caucus is an American political organization formed in June 2002 and composed of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the California State Legislature.[1] The caucus currently has eight members, including Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.

This group is contrasted to other LGBT Equality Caucuses in that the California caucus consists entirely of LGBT legislators while other LGBT Equality Caucuses consist of all orientations. Both, however, promote the promulgation of LGBT-affirming laws within the legislature.


The caucus was established to champion legislation that advances equality and the rights of LGBT Californians. Its members have introduced and passed numerous measures related to gay rights, including two same-sex marriage bills (both vetoed by the governor), bills prohibiting discrimination in state government, tackling orientation-based bullying in schools and adequately funding HIV/AIDS treatment.[1] In December 2008, in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8, members of the LGBT Caucus pushed a resolution expressing the legislature's opinion that the proposition was unconstitutional.[2]

In addition, the caucus sponsors an annual LGBT Pride Exhibit every June and presents the LGBT Pride Recognition Awards to outstanding Californians. In 2006, several Republican legislators boycotted the awards ceremony, walking off the Assembly floor as the awards were presented.[3][4] This boycott stalled the ceremony for several years until 2009 when it was resurrected. In each year since, many Republicans have boycotted the ceremony.


Current members

14 openly LGBT people have served in the legislature and been members of the caucus – all gay or lesbian and Democrats. Seven of them hold office in the 2015–16 biennium.

Name Residence Party Years in Assembly Years in Senate
Mark Leno San Francisco Democratic 2002–2008 2008–present
Cathleen Galgiani Livingston Democratic 2006–2012[Note 1] 2012–present
Toni Atkins San Diego Democratic 2010–present
Rich Gordon Menlo Park Democratic 2010–present
Ricardo Lara Bell Gardens Democratic 2010–2012 2012–present
Susan Eggman Stockton Democratic 2012–present
Evan Low Campbell Democratic 2014–present


  1. Galgiani came out in November 2011

Former members

Name Residence Party Years in Assembly Years in Senate
Sheila Kuehl Santa Monica Democratic 1994–2000 2000–2008
Carole Migden San Francisco Democratic 1996–2002 2004–2008
Christine Kehoe San Diego Democratic 2000–2004 2004–2012
Jackie Goldberg Los Angeles Democratic 2000–2006
John Laird Santa Cruz Democratic 2002–2008
Tom Ammiano San Francisco Democratic 2008–2014
John Pérez Los Angeles Democratic 2008–2014

In addition, there has been one gay member of the legislature who, despite being open about his sexual orientation, was not a member of the caucus. Republican state senator Roy Ashburn came out in March 2010 after having been arrested while driving under the influence on his way home from a gay bar.[5] He served the remaining eight months of his term but did not join the caucus.

There have also been members of the legislature who, though not open about their sexuality at the time they served in public office, subsequently declared themselves gay or lesbian. Dennis Mangers, who represented Orange County in the Assembly from 1976 to 1980, married his partner of 17 years, Michael Sestak, in June 2008.[6] Art Torres, who served 8 years in the Assembly and 12 in the State Senate before going on to spend 13 years as chair of the California Democratic Party, came out publicly in April 2009.[7]

Chronology of openly LGBT legislators

The table below shows members of the legislature who were openly LGBT at the time they served. It extends back to the election of the first openly gay member of the California legislature: Sheila Kuehl (elected November 1994). The caucus was founded in 2002.

Openly LGBT members
(in Assembly, in Senate)
1995–1996 Sheila Kuehl
Assembly, 41st district
1 (1, 0)
1997–1998 Carole Migden
Assembly, 13th district
2 (2, 0)
1999–2000 2 (2, 0)
2001–2002 Sheila Kuehl
Senate, 23rd district
Christine Kehoe
Assembly, 76th district
Jackie Goldberg
Assembly, 45th district
4 (3, 1)
2003–2004 Mark Leno
Assembly, 13th district
John Laird
Assembly, 27th district
5 (4, 1)
2005–2006 Carole Migden
Senate, 3rd district
Christine Kehoe
Senate, 39th district
6 (3, 3)
2007–2008 5 (2, 3)
2009–2010 John Pérez
Assembly, 46th district
Tom Ammiano
Assembly, 13th district
Roy Ashburn
Senate, 18th district
Mark Leno
Senate, 3rd district
5 (2, 3)
2011–2012 Ricardo Lara
Assembly, 50th district
Rich Gordon
Assembly, 21st district
Toni Atkins
Assembly, 76th district
Cathleen Galgiani
Assembly, 17th district
8 (6, 2)
2013–2014 Susan Eggman
Assembly, 13th district
Ricardo Lara
Senate, 33rd district
Cathleen Galgiani
Senate, 5th district
8 (5, 3)
2015–2016 Evan Low
Assembly, 28th district
7 (4, 3)

Note: Roy Ashburn came out in March 2010, having served since 1996 (Assembly, 1996–2002; Senate, 2002–2010). Cathleen Galgiani came out in November 2011, having served in the Assembly since 2006.


Term of office Name Chamber
2002–2003[8] Christine Kehoe Assembly
2003–2006[8] Mark Leno Assembly
2006–2008[9] John Laird Assembly
2008–2010[10] Mark Leno Senate
2010–2011[11] Tom Ammiano Assembly
2011–2012[12] Christine Kehoe Senate
2012–2015[13] Rich Gordon Assembly
2015–present[14] Susan Eggman Assembly


  1. 1.0 1.1 California Legislative LGBT Caucus Elects Laird Chair. California State Assembly (2006-12-05). Archived from the original on 2008-06-13. Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
  2. "California Legislature's gay caucus introduces anti-Prop. 8 resolution", Sacramento Bee. Retrieved on 2008-12-31. 
  3. "GOP Lawmakers Walk Out Over Gay Recognition", News10, 2006-08-14. Retrieved on 2008-06-04. 
  4. "Over GOP objections, Assembly proclaims Pride", Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved on 2009-06-28. 
  5. Hindery, Robin. "Calif state senator says he's gay after DUI arrest", Associated Press, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 8, 2010. Retrieved on March 8, 2010. 
  6. "Gay couples are emphasizing low-key weddings", Los Angeles Times, 2008-06-16. 
  7. "Former Dem chair Torres comes out", Bay Area Reporter. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 LGBT Caucus elects Assemblyman Mark Leno as Chair. California State Assembly (2003-11-06). Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
  9. "Political Notebook: Laird aims to keep LGBT caucus alive", Bay Area Reporter, 2006-12-21. Retrieved on 2008-06-04. 
  10. "Political Notebook: Leno gets chair", Bay Area Reporter, 2008-01-29. Retrieved on 2009-01-29. 
  11. "Equality California Congratulates New LGBT Caucus Chair Assemblymember Tom Ammiano", 2010-03-19. Retrieved on 2010-07-17. 
  12. "Kehoe to chair California LGBT Legislative Caucus", Del Mar Times. Retrieved on 2011-01-14. 
  13. "Gordon to seek second state Assembly term", San Mateo Daily Journal, 2012-01-20. Retrieved on 2012-01-25. 
  14. "CA LGBT caucus elects first inland lawmaker as chair", Bay Area Reporte, 2015-01-15. Retrieved on 2015-01-20. 

External links