It’s a fresh news cycle for the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that cements June as Pride Month in The Golden State.
The new law comes on the heels of revelations that half the caucus accepted campaign donations from private prison ICE contractors last week.
Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins accepted $4,200 from GEO Group last year and $4,000 from Northrop Grumman. She donated $12,000 to immigrant rights groups to offset those donations. California Legislative LGBT Caucus Chair Evan Low benefitted from $4,200 from GEO Group. His campaign has not responded to multiple requests to comment.
Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s took $1,500 from GEO Group and Northrop Grumman each. He donated the GEO Group funds to local organizations earlier this month. Assemblymember Susan Eggman took $1,000 from CoreCivic. Her campaign has not responded to requests to comment.
Both GEO Group and CoreCivic have faced a litany of human rights abuse allegations involving ICE detention facilities in recent years.
The GEO Group operates California’s Adelanto ICE Processing Center, where Gay Nigerian asylum-seeker Udoka Nweke is incarcerated. According to ICE officials and LGBTQ advocates, Nweke suffers from mental illness. Advocates claim the 29-year-old is suicidal and have demanded his release.
The California Legislative LGBT Caucus carries historical significance for queer people in California. Its installation in 2002 made it the first of its kind in the country, and the caucus has introduced resolutions annually to declare June as Pride month.
AB 2969 makes that proclamation law during a time when the White House refuses to recognize Pride Month. While the Obama administration celebrated the LGBTQ community each June, President Trump has failed to make the proclamation the past two years.
In a statement celebrating the signing of AB269, Low noted the historical importance of June when the Stonewall Riots in New York City catalyzed the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
“California has the largest LGBT population of any state in the union, and the state is home to over forty LGBT Pride celebrations each year,” said Low. “I want to thank Governor Brown for adding Pride to the list of celebrations codified in statute.”