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Lena Gonzalez – Long Beach Councilwoman, candidate Senate District 33 – poor leadership on LGBTQ issues

Lena Gonzalez

Long Beach City Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez is among 12 candidates on the ballot Tuesday for the California Senate District 33 special election. Gonzalez has called herself “the biggest ally possible for the LGBT community,” but we call BS. Photo: City of Long Beach.

Editorial

Long Beach City Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez is among 12 candidates on the ballot Tuesday for the California Senate District 33 special election. The seat was left vacant in January after Ricardo Lara was elected state Insurance Commissioner.

Gonzalez has called herself “the biggest ally possible for the LGBT community,” but we call BS.

The 33rd Senate District includes Cudahy, Bell, Bell Gardens, Lynwood, Maywood, Signal Hill, Paramount, South Gate, Vernon, Walnut Park, Huntington Park, most of Long Beach with portions of Lakewood and Los Angeles.

Poor leadership on LGBTQ issues

Gonzalez was elected to Long Beach City Council in 2014 (and re-elected last year) and has offered poor leadership on local issues impacting her LGBTQ constituents. Gonzalez has, however, had several opportunities to be the biggest ally possible for the LGBT community,” but she has failed.

HIV in Long Beach

Long Beach’s second highest concentration of HIV infections is located in the 90813 zip code (the 1st District, which Gonzalez represents), and more than 90 percent of the city’s total cases occur among gay men. Gonzalez, however, does not have a strategic plan to reduce HIV infections in the gay community.

Discrimination against gay men

In 2016, Long Beach Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina made a historic ruling against the Long Beach Police Department. He said the police discriminated against gay men by targeting and falsely arresting them for lewd conduct in public bathrooms — an illegal practice the gay community had protested for decades. In the weeks and months following the groundbreaking ruling, Gonzalez never  asked the police department for a report assuring the community that these false arrests would not happen again. She also never asked for a report to explain why these discriminatory practices happened by the people who are employed to protect citizens. In an interview with Q Voice News last year, Gonzalez said she would fight to reinstate the LGBTQ Police Advisory Committee, which was eliminated a few years ago due to budget cuts. The LGBTQ community as well as previous members of the committee wanted it restarted. Gonzalez never fought for it.

Ignored World AIDS Day event

In addition, on December 1, 2018 World AIDS Day, Gonzalez ignored the annual candlelight vigil at Bluff Park on Ocean Boulevard that commemorates World AIDS Day, which raises awareness of the AIDS pandemic and allows people to mourn loved ones who have died from the disease. Where was Gonzalez? At the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade.

The events overlapped. Belmont Shore is approximately 2 miles from Bluff Park. Based on the time and distance, Gonzalez could have easily attended both events.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, City Council ignore HIV, AIDS

Abandoning her district

Of course, Gonzalez doesn’t have a problem asking for campaign contributions from the same community that she ignores, but the LGBTQ community is not the only one Gonzalez ignores.

Instead of finishing the four years she has left on her term as a councilwoman — which voters elected her to do — Gonzalez has decided to abandon the district. She wants to ensconce herself in a full-time public job and all the benefits (health insurance, pension) and financial perks it will provide her.

Residents deserve better than this.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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