I won’t lie. It’s been a difficult and frustrating start to 2021.
On the positive side: tomorrow, we’ll have a President and Vice President who believe in science, who believe white supremacy is a bad thing, and who are creating an organized plan to end the pandemic and the economic misery it’s caused.
Also on the positive side: we now have two highly effective and safe vaccines, with one or two more likely to join the list in the coming months. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
On the rough side: the pandemic is surging, and so many people are dying. It’s an unspeakable tragedy. Domestic terrorists tried to overthrow our government, and despite all the arrests, these terrorists are still all over our country. And so many continue to hurt economically, with many people struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, and a huge number of small businesses having closed or at risk of closing. (In the coming weeks, we’ll be working to extend California’s eviction moratorium and enact various budget measures to support struggling individuals and small businesses. …
What happened on January 6th was nothing short of a violent attempt to overthrow the United States government. We were all shaken by this terrifying attack on our democratic institutions.
We all watched in shock as armed rioters streamed into the Capitol building and as members of Congress, their staff, journalists, and other Capitol employees were forced to evacuate or were sequestered in their offices, praying for their safety and the safety of others.
I won’t mince words: President Trump and his Republican sycophant enablers are responsible for this armed mob storming the Capitol. They’re responsible for delaying our democratic process and for putting so many in physical danger. They’re responsible for the violence that broke out and the terror felt by so many. …
As we settle into our second stay-at-home order in the Bay Area, I’ll be honest: it’s a bit of a struggle to offer new words of guidance, comfort, or advice. No one needs to be reminded of how hard a time this is — we’re all living it. Many of us had to make tough phone calls to loved ones to let them know we wouldn’t be gathering for Thanksgiving. And we’ll have to do it again for Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years.
The unusual holiday season, of course, is piling on top of the many reasons folks are struggling right now. With unemployment rates and business closures still very high, people in our communities are fighting to pay rent and mortgages, to feed their families, and generally make ends meet. And with COVID-19 infection rates rising, we are losing too many people to this horrible virus. …
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reflecting on what I’m thankful for during this very unusual and difficult year.
I am thankful for all of our essential workers who keep our communities running during this time.
I’m also thankful for all of you — the members of our community — for hanging in there through the very challenging events of the past 8 months. Thank you for social distancing, for postponing weddings and birthdays, for staying home, for cancelling plans, and for everything else you’ve done to slow the spread of COVID-19. All of your efforts matter — you’ve helped protect our community.
We have challenges ahead; there is no denying that. As Thanksgiving approaches, we all want to gather with people outside our household. We also all know that gathering with people outside of our own households — especially indoors — could put ourselves and others at risk of infection and contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
You’ve heard this many times, but I want to encourage everyone, if you can: stay home and celebrate Thanksgiving with people in your own household. If you decide to see others for the holiday, please be careful about testing, quarantining, masking, and social distancing, in addition to maximizing time outside. There is no 100% safe way to see others, but there are ways to reduce risk.
To be clear, this isn’t about judging others or casting aspersions on those who choose to gather. No one is perfect, myself included. All of us want to see our friends and loved ones. All of us are hurting this year, some much more than others. We all want this to be over. And we all make choices about the risks we are willing to tolerate. But, please do everything you can to reduce that risk so that we can protect our healthcare system and save lives.
I know that this is incredibly painful — it certainly is for me. I haven’t seen my elderly parents, my sister, or my nephews in person since the beginning of COVID-19. It’s a struggle, and FaceTime and Zoom just aren’t the same. I’m also bummed out not to be spending Thanksgiving with my close friends, as we do almost every year.
But I also know that hope lies just ahead of us and that there’s a light — one that becomes brighter and brighter — at the end of the tunnel. We have an incoming President and Vice President who take the virus incredibly seriously. And we have what appear to be three highly effective vaccine candidates moving through the FDA’s emergency authorization process. Frontline healthcare workers could begin receiving the vaccine as soon as mid-December, just a few weeks from now.
We’re moving toward a better future, where we can hug our family and friends, share many meals together, meet our friends for a drink, dance until the next morning, and explore the beauty of life without fear. We’re not quite there yet, but I have faith that we will hang on just a little longer until it’s safe again. We will get through this pandemic together. We’ve already made it this far. Let’s keep up the fight.
We got this. …
All six of my bills that made it to Governor Newsom’s desk this year were signed into law
This legislative session was nothing short of extraordinary — and I mean that in the literal sense. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on our normal processes and shortening our session, we were forced to cut down on the amount of legislation we pursued.
That being said, amidst the unpredictability of the last 7 months, I’m proud to say that I sent six important progressive reforms to the Governor’s desk, all of which he signed into law.
In total, since I took office four years ago, 42 bills I’ve authored have been signed into law. …
I’ve been volunteering at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank over the past four months. I’ve gotten used to the flow of it: packing food into bags and boxes, and handing it out and talking with folks (from a distance) as people queue in a long line. Even after numerous times volunteering, I’m always devastated by how many people are in line with their children, just trying to get food to feed their families for another day. …
The police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in Louisville and Minneapolis were beyond sickening and shocking. At the same time, these horrific acts of violence were, ultimately (and tragically), unsurprising. Our country has a deep and long-standing problem with police violence — all too often lethal — directed at Black people. Our country was built using slave labor, and this foundation of racism and violence against Black people has stayed with us through our entire history: from the Jim Crow era and segregation, to decades of redlining and systemically denying financial opportunity to the Black community, to the War on Drugs and mass incarceration of Black people. We saw this thread continue with the murders of people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We saw it with the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery and when Jacob Blake was shot in the back. …
In the last two months, we’ve seen the entire notion of “normal” turned upside-down. If you had told me in January that I wouldn’t be making my weekly commute to the Capitol or attending any in-person events and meetings, and that instead, I’d be doing Zoom meetings with constituents, advocates, and health experts, helping countless people access unemployment benefits, and attending remote hearings and virtual town halls, I would not have believed you.
As someone who’s been in public life for over a decade, I am not used to spending any significant amount of time in my home — when I’m not in Sacramento advancing bills through the Legislature, I’m in San Francisco meeting with constituents, attending community events, and speaking at town halls. Home, for me, is typically about getting ready in the morning and getting home late at night and maybe watching the news while eating a burrito. …
Nonprofits play a critical role in San Francisco and California, providing support and resources in countless ways. Many nonprofits have also been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those who rely on philanthropic donations to stay open.
Nonprofits have been a big part of my life in San Francisco. For the past 23 years, I’ve worked hand in glove with San Francisco’s robust nonprofit community.
My first experience with the San Francisco nonprofit community was our own LGBT Community Center. When I moved here in 1997, as a 27 year old gay man, I learned that San Francisco did not have an LGBT Center and that an effort was underway to build one. I immediately got involved as a volunteer, and six months later I was asked to join the Board of Directors. Over the next 6 years, I served as the Board’s Treasurer during the construction of the Center and then as Board Co-Chair during the first two years of operations. I helped hire the Center’s first three executive directors. After leaving the Center’s Board, I continued to support the organization financially. …
Watching the election in Wisconsin this past Tuesday was like watching a slow moving train wreck.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court issued two separate rulings effectively forcing Wisconsin to move forward with in-person voting this past Tuesday and preventing people from voting absentee. These dangerous decisions — forcing people to choose between their vote and their health — reflects a dangerous trend toward disenfranchising people.
Just as tragic, allowing people to vote has become a partisan issue, with the Republican Party — here the Republican leadership in the Wisconsin Legislature and the Republican-controlled courts — leading the charge to make it hard and even dangerous for people to vote. …