Observed since 1980, the one year anniversary of the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day is a day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer people to be proud of who you are and your support for LGBTQ equality. It is also a day for LGBTQ+ allies to come out as supporters of LGBTQ+ Pride and truly equal rights.
The foundational belief of National Coming Out Day is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views. As the Human Rights Campaign states, “Coming out — whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer — STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other.”
I am also proud that on my motion, brought with City Councilmember Farrah Khan, the Irvine City Council unanimously repealed and removed a section of the municipal code (known as Measure N) that had prohibited any anti-discrimination protections for people based on their sexual orientation.
As the Voice of OC noted , “Over the last year, Irvine has seen a dramatic shift in its recognition of the LGBTQ+ community after widespread calls from the public for renewed action to acknowledge the community. In June 2019, the panel voted against flying the pride flag during pride month, with [Councilmember Mike] Carroll referring to the flag as a ‘ spectacle of divisiveness.’ . . . But last month, the council reversed its position, voting 4-1 to fly the flag over City Hall for the remainder of June and to make it an annual occurrence, flying from Harvey Milk Day (May 22) to the end of pride month. The city also officially recognized pride month for the first time this June two weeks ahead of the flag vote. The City Attorney questioned whether we had the authority to repeal the anti-LGBTQ ordinance. The council decided to move forward with the vote I noted that the only challenges that could potentially come to their decision would be a lawsuit calling for the legislation to be restored to the old city code. “Who in their right mind is going to come sue us to put this anti-LGBTQ language back in our code?” Fox said. “Lets clean this up and move on.”
Also for the first time this year, the Lavender Democratic Club of OC issued an OC LGBTQ+ Voting Guide. The Voting Guide recommends voting for candidates who have pledged their support for LGBTQ+ equality legislation, with a specific commitment to stand with our community in matters related to these public accommodations. public facilities, federally-funded programs, employment, housing, education, credit, marriage equality, disability and family leave, public safety, and the Equality Act.
Join us for three weeks of unique, interactive online experiences and two socially distanced drive-in concerts that will highlight memories of festivals past and create new memories uniting the community.
My favorite event of the year is the Irvine Global Village Festival, founded in 1998 by a group of Irvine residents to help promote understanding and build harmony within Irvine’s many diverse cultures. Over the years, the Global Village Festival has expanded from one day to two days, and moved from Col. Bill Barber Park across from Irvine City Hall to the much larger Orange County Great Park.
Because of COVID-19, this year’s festival will be somewhat different. While we can’t gather in person this year, we look forward to celebrating Orange County’s premier multicultural event in innovative ways that keep the public safe, connected, and engaged.
The 2020 Global Village Festival will consist of a series of responsibly planned events that adhere to social distancing guidelines as we navigate these unusual times.
From September 21-October 10, 2020, you’re invited to celebrate Irvine’s multicultural community through music, art, food, and fun:
Browse photo albums and videos exploring the history of the Irvine Global Village Festival. Share your own photos of favorite memories from past festivals to see them included on the City’s social media accounts.
Make new memories of Irvine Global Village Festival at home. Families can take part in weekly themed art activities and classes from home, including downloadable coloring sheets for kids.
Explore a list of multicultural restaurants in Irvine with outdoor dining or take-home options to dine globally and celebrate Irvine’s rich diversity while staying safe at home. Share photos of your festive meals with the City so we can share them online!
Enjoy entertaining videos featuring the international cuisine, dance, and musical performances of previous Irvine Global Village Festivals.
The Irvine Global Village Festival also includes two drive-in concerts at the Orange County Great Park, put on in partnership between the City and Irvine Barclay Theatre. On Friday, September 25, enjoy a live show by Willie Nelson tribute band True Willie and the Boys.
Round out the festival’s celebrations on Saturday, October 10, with a show by award-winning all-female mariachi band Mariachi Divas. Park your cars and enjoy a picnic to pay tribute to the rich musical history of the Irvine Global Village Festival, all while safely practicing social distancing.
Tickets for these concerts are $25 per car for general admission and $40 per car for VIP front-row access. Pre-registration is required.
Tickets will be on sale at yourirvine.org for three weeks prior to the start of each event; the first week of sales is open to Irvine residents only, and the remaining two weeks are open to all members of the public. A $5 non-resident fee will be applied.
On Wednesday, August 12, I hosted an OC Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools, discussing when and how to re-open our classrooms with four leading members of Orange County school boards currently dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
For many of us, there is no bigger question right now than whether our children will be attending in-person classes this fall.
President Trump seems desperate to have schools re-open regardless of the danger to students, teachers, and staff, even threatening to cut federal aid to school districts that decide that the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great to return to in-person classes.
Yet the federal government has provided no real guidance for determining when it is safe to re-open schools, or the proper procedures for school to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they do re-open.
As USA Today put it, “Abandoned by any semblance of national leadership during a raging pandemic, students, teachers and staff are being told to jump into the deep end and return to school buildings.”
In the absence of federal leadership, these decisions and procedures have been left to governors and, crucially, local school districts.
Here in Orange County, our Board of Education made national headlines when it voted 4-1 (with the sole Democrat dissenting) to re-open this fall, without requiring the use of face masks or social distancing.
For many, there was tremendous relief when California Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in to mandate that any schools in counties on the state COVID-19 watch list, which includes Orange County, could not have students in classrooms. The Republicans on the OC Board of Education then responded by suing the Governor over his decision to prevent schools from opening in-person.
I asked four outstanding, progressive school board members in Orange County to join me in a discussion of this critical situation for parents, students, teachers, and school staff:
Keri Kropke of the Brea Olinda School Board. Keri earned a B.A. in political economy from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in History, a post baccalaureate from Chapman University in Communication Disorders, and a M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in Communication Sciences. She is an elementary public educator with a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has recently become a speech language pathologist specializing in language, early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.
Gina Clayton-Tarvin of the Ocean View School Board. Gina is a long-time educator, and was first elected to the OVSD Board of Trustees in 2012. She was recently voted President of the Board, after serving as Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President of the Board. Gina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, as well as a California Secondary Single Subject Credential in Biology. She holds an English Learner (EL) Authorization and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and is authorized to provide instruction to English learners. She has also worked for Special Education as a home school teacher. She successfully completed the California School Board Association Masters of Governance program and received her certification in 2014.
Kris Erickson of Orange Unified School Board. Kris is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Kristin A. Erickson. She has held board positions on PTA, put on fundraisers for student events, mentored at-risk kids, coached mock trial, and planned our annual staff appreciations to honor hard-working teachers. She also started a grassroots organization, CARE, with several other parents to bring long-needed improvements to our high school campuses. Kris attended Western State University School of Law.
Jamison Power of the Westminster School Board. Jamison was first elected to the Westminster School Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. He received his B.A. from UC Irvine and his J.D. from UCLA. In his professional life, Jamison serves as in-house counsel for Hyundai Motor America. He also provides free legal assistance to low income families, and has received multiple awards for his work. He previously served as a member of the Vietnamese-American Education Advisory Council, and he worked closely with the Superintendent and the Board to ensure that WSD became the first district in California to implement a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program.
I think you’ll find our discussion very timely and informative. Watch it here:
“If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.” — Louis Brandeis, Justice of the United States Supreme Court
Please join us on July 14, 2020, when the Irvine City Council decides whether to approve the motion from Councilmembers Melissa Fox and Farrah N. Khan to repeal and remove a cruel and unconstitutional anti-LGBTQ ordinance that has been part of Irvine’s Municipal Code as Sec. 3-5-501 through 503 since 1989.
Most residents of Irvine do not know that our diverse and forward-thinking city has an ordinance on the books that specifically and explicitly denies anti-discrimination protection to people based on their sexual orientation.
In fact, most residents are shocked when they learn that the Irvine Municipal Code includes the following:
“Sec. 3-5-503. – City Council parameters.
Except as provided in section 3-5-502, the City Council shall not enact any City policy, law or ordinance that:
A. Defines sexual orientation as a fundamental human right.
B. Uses sexual orientation, in whole or in part, as the basis for determining an unlawful discriminatory practice and/or establishes a penalty or civil remedy for such practice.
C. Provides preferential treatment or affirmative action for any person on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
We believe it is outrageous that this cruel and unconstitutional law is still on the books in Irvine! It’s long past time for it to be repealed and removed!
These provisions were added by Ord. No. 89-1, which was adopted as Measure N by 53% of the voters as an initiative on Nov. 7, 1989, overturning an Irvine Human Rights Ordinance enacted by the Council in July 1988 that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.
According to Christina Shea, the initiative was needed because the earlier Human Rights ordinance gave “special legislative protection to the homosexual, bisexual and lesbian communities” and “homosexuality is characterized by a wide range of sexual perversions, varying degrees of promiscuity and a disproportionate percentage of sexually transmitted diseases.”
Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.
In Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution prohibits a state from banning LGBTQ people from seeking “specific legal protection from injuries caused by discrimination.”
The facts of Romer v. Evans are as follows: after various cities and counties in Colorado enacted laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, the State of Colorado, through a ballot initiative, amended its state constitution to “prohibit all legislative, executive or judicial action at any level of state or local government designed to protect . . . homosexual persons or gays and lesbians.” As the Supreme Court explained, under the amendment, “Homosexuals, by state decree, are put in a solitary class with respect to transactions and relations in both the private and governmental spheres. The amendment withdraws from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination, and it forbids reinstatement of these laws and policies.”
The Supreme Court declared that the Colorado constitutional amendment was based upon animosity toward homosexual people and lacked a rational relation to any legitimate governmental purpose. Accordingly, the Court determined that Colorado’s constitutional amendment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment.
Like the Colorado constitutional amendment that the Supreme Court invalidated in Romer v. Evans, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance attempts to prohibit local government action “designed to protect . . . homosexual persons or gays and lesbians” [i.e., protects people based on “sexual orientation.”] and like the Colorado constitutional amendment invalidated in Romer v. Evans, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance “withdraws from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination.” Accordingly, Romer v. Evans renders Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance unconstitutional.
Moreover, not only is Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance unconstitutional, it also clearly contradicts and is superseded by California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against people based on “sexual orientation.”
Because state law supersedes any city law or local ordinance, the Unruh Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation anywhere in California means that Irvine lacks the power to declare that “the City Council shall not enact any City policy, law or ordinance that: Uses sexual orientation, in whole or in part, as the basis for determining an unlawful discriminatory practice and/or establishes a penalty or civil remedy for such practice.”
We would like the see the eyes of the world on Irvine.
We believe that the three others on the Irvine City Council — Mayor Christina Shea and Councilmembers Anthony Kuo and Mike Carroll — are far more likely to vote to repeal and remove this cruel and unconstitutional ordinance from the Municipal Code if they know that PEOPLE ARE WATCHING!
You can read more about the origins of this anti-LGBTQ ordinance — how it was promoted by (now Mayor) Christina Shea and her then-husband Michael Shea out of animosity and fear toward LBGTQ people and as a launching pad for their right-wing political careers — at Melissa Fox’s blog post HERE.
The Irvine City Attorney, who is an ally of Mayor Christina Shea, has stated that because this anti-LGBTQ ordinance was made law by a ballot initiative, it can only be repealed and removed by another ballot initiative. Our argument against this assertion is that this ordinance is clearly unconstitutional under many United States Supreme Court cases, as well as in violation of federal and state law; for this reason, it’s repeal and removal does not change the law in a way that requires another ballot measure.
In fact, the California Legislature dealt with this very issue in its repeal of the unconstitutional sections of Prop 187 by Senate Bill 396 (2014) by a majority vote of the Legislature without a vote of the entire electorate. As the Judicial Committee of the California Senate noted, “Under existing law, California’s Constitution only authorizes the Legislature to amend or repeal initiative statutes by way of another statute that becomes effective only when approved by the electors –unless the initiative statute permits amendment or repeal without their approval. (Cal. Const., art. II, Sec. 10, subd. (c).) This bill [SB 396] seeks to repeal several state statutes implemented upon voter approval of Proposition 187, which generally prohibited the provision of various benefits to undocumented aliens. That proposition did not authorize the Legislature to amend or repeal its provisions without voter approval.”
Nevertheless, the Judicial Committee found that the Legislature had authority to repeal the unconstitutional sections of Prop 187 without a vote of the entire electorate. It reasoned that because the bill did not modify or repeal any provisions of Prop 187 except those that are unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable, it did not make any change in existing law. Accordingly, “SB 396 would not impermissibly repeal or amend the initiative; rather, it would merely update California statutes to accurately reflect current law.” The bill passed the Assembly and the Senate with only a single No vote.
The same circumstances exist here. Keeping this discriminatory language on the books, “causes confusion and harmful outcomes . . . [Therefore], it is fitting that [we] expressly acknowledge the detrimental impact of the discriminatory [language] by removing its stain from the state’s statutes.” That is precisely what our City Council needs to do now, and what the precedent of SB 396 gives us clear authority to do: “expressly acknowledge the detrimental impact of the discriminatory [language of Sec. 3-5.501-503] by removing its stain from the [City’s Code.]”
In addition to being unconstitutional and in violation of superseding state laws, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance is a cruel and embarrassing relic of a more prejudiced time.
Does Irvine want to remain on record as being one of the very few cities in America, and indeed the world, that still officially discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation? We hope not!
As Orange County moves into the next part, Stage 2, of Gov. Newsom’s Resiliency Roadmap, the City of Irvine has prepared a guide for residents and visitors regarding what is now open in Irvine and what is required and recommended to maintain our safety during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
✅ In Stage Two, the County of Orange will be allowed to have the following businesses re-open with adaptations:
🥙 In-person dining reservations.
🛍 Retail shopping with social distancing and curbside pickup.
🏢 Offices (when telework not possible).
🏯 Outdoor Museums.
▶️ Limited Services.
🚫 What is NOT allowed in Stage 2 🚫:
– Personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios.
– Indoor museums, kids museums and gallery spaces, zoos and libraries.
– Community centers, including public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas.
– Limited-capacity religious services and cultural ceremonies.
– Concert venues.
– Live audience sports.
– Theme parks.
– Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism – non-essential travel.
– Higher Education.
Please be mindful that the pandemic is not over. COVID-19 is still among us. It is still highly contagious and potentially deadly.
Face masks are still required by customers and employees in retail businesses and are strongly recommended for everyone whenever going out in public. Social distancing and hand washing remain our most important lines of defense against the spread of COVID-19.
As we re-enter the social world, we need to take care of ourselves and be careful not to harm others.
COVID-19 has impacted both small businesses and housing in California.
In this Town Hall held on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox , California State Treasurer Fiona Mam and Claudia Moreno of Small Business Majority discuss the impact of COVID-19 on California’s economy, small business assistance programs, and new opportunities for affordable housing.
Fiona Ma is California’s 34th State Treasurer. She was elected on November 6, 2018, with more votes (7,825,587) than any other candidate for treasurer in the state’s history. She is the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position.
Claudia Moreno is an Southern California Outreach Director for Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization. She previously worked at the White House during the Obama Administration in the Executive Office of Presidential Correspondence where she served as an intermediate between the President and the American people. She also took lead in the Office’s Spanish Analytical Department as an interpreter to support the President’s vision to serve all communities.
Dr. Strack is a licensed psychologist and certified sport psychology consultant (CMPC). Over the past 15 years he has consulted H.S./Collegiate athletes, professional athletes (MLB, MiLB, NHL, PGA, NBA, Professional Soccer/USL), and Olympic athletes (Women’s Indoor Volleyball, Speed Skating, Swimming, Fencing).
He is a former division I college baseball player and founding partner of Proball Inc., private baseball academy. During the 1999 and 2000 MLB seasons, he was the batting practice pitcher for the Anaheim Angels. From 1999 to 2004, he was hand-picked to pitch in the MLB Players’ Association and ESPN’s Big League Challenge Home Run Contests where he was the personal pitcher for Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Raphael Palmeiro, Jose Canseco, Shawn Green, Magglio Ordonez, Andruw Jones, and Troy Glaus.
Dr. Ben Strack is a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Psychology Registry Member, board member of the Orange County Psychological Association and a co-chairperson for the Optimal Performance/Functioning division of the Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. He is also an active member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).
As an adjunct professor at California State University Long Beach and Argosy University, Dr. Ben Strack taught sport psychology classes in the undergraduate and graduate programs. He is also a frequent speaker at workshops and conferences throughout the country. His work with athletes has appeared in various media including ESPN, The New York Times, and on local television shows in Southern California.
Unfortunately, this year, young children are stuck at home, away from their schools, teachers, and friends.
The good news is that although Irvine’s Pretend City Children’s Museum is temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it has made it easier to celebrate the Week of the Young Child from your home — and keep your young children moving, thinking, and expressing throughout this quarantine period.
The staff at Pretend City has said, “We want to share our sincere hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. As we continue to monitor COVID-19, our top priority remains the well-being of our Pretend City citizens -– all of you! While we’re adapting to new ways of serving you while the museum is temporarily closed, our team is committed to working together to support you.”
Pretend City has put together some fun at-home activities for young children for every day of the week.
Pretend City has also put together a terrific “Way to Play Guide” for Pretend City @ Home, providing age and development appropriate play activities for children from birth to 6 months old, 7 to 12 months old, 13 to 18 months old, 19 to 24 months old, 2 to 3 years old, 3 to 4 years old, 4 to 5 years old, and 5+ years old.
To view the “Way to Play Guide” for Pretend City @ Home, click HERE.
As Pretend City says, “You are your child’s best teacher. By trying these simple and fun play activities, you are helping your child reach his or her developmental milestones. This process of change involves learning skills like walking, talking and playing with others, often at predictable times during the first five years of life. You can use this sheet as a tool to help you better understand your child’s milestones, gauge each new stage of growth and encourage emerging abilities in your child’s life.”
To learn more about helping Pretend City Children’s Museum continue its great work during this difficult time, please click HERE.
Visit Pretend City Children’s Museum on Facebook HERE.
I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Pageto my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.
Did you know that every neighboring county of Orange County requires face coverings for all food service, grocery store, and other essential workers except Orange County?
Did you know that many of these workers are under the age of 18?
In order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect both workers and customers, every neighboring county of Orange County — including San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties — now require face coverings for all food service, grocery store, and other essential workers.
Only Orange County does not. I believe this failure to protect public health is unacceptable and unconscionable.
My friend, Gina Clayton-Tarvin, President of the Board of Trustees at the Ocean View School District, who has also been a classroom teacher in Orange County for 25 years, has started a petition to address this very serious problem.
I have signed this petition because I believe that all workers who are providing us with food, groceries, and other essential goods and services during this pandemic deserve to be as protected from this deadly virus as possible.
As customers of these businesses and as residents of Orange County, we also deserve to be protected.
The protection of public health is an essential responsibility — and must be a top priority — of any government.
I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Pageto my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.