The Other Gay Contenders



RORY_NEUNER.jpg- Luis Lopez
- Democrat
- Running to represent California's 45th state assembly district

politics are not for the faint-hearted, but Luis Lopez just may have
the chops to effectively take on such an unwieldy beast. Running next
year to represent California’s 45th state assembly district, Lopez
currently serves as a planning commissioner for the funky, diverse L.A.
neighborhood of Silver Lake, where he lives with his partner. Lopez, 38,
is also part of a parks oversight committee for the city, cochaired
his neighborhood council, and started a Latino LGBT political action
committee (his full-time job is as a communications director for a
health center).

Aside from that impressive résumé, Lopez has some
powerful friends who will help him when he faces a primary in June.
Jackie Goldberg, a lesbian who represented the Democrat-friendly 45th
district from 2000 to 2006, is supporting Lopez in his race, and Lopez’s
good friend John Perez, the out California Assembly speaker, will
likely endorse him as well. It’s not yet clear who Lopez will face off
against as the current assemblyman, Gilbert Cedillo, is termed-out next
year and possible candidates are still coming forward.

“We need
to look at leaders who’ve earned the respect of their peers,” Lopez
says. ”People who are respected can move an agenda along — there were many
times when my colleagues on a given board haven’t agreed with me, but
we were still able to make decisions.”

Protecting labor is
paramount to Lopez, who grew up in East Los Angeles and started working
not long after his mother passed away when he was eight. Voters in his
district, which stretches from Hollywood to Chinatown to East L.A. and
includes thousands of diverse gay people, are in line with his platform,
he says.

“When you have an economic recession, obviously you have
an environment where it’s easy to point blame and find scapegoats,”
Lopez says, referring to the assaults on the pensions and other benefits
of public workers. “But what we need to remember is that we can’t
balance our budgets on the backs of working men and women. Especially,
when you have companies like GE that manage to shield their earnings and
essentially pay no federal taxes — that’s just not right.” —Neal Broverman

Tags: Election