AB1678: Much to Celebrate, Many to Thank

| By Justin Nelson
“This is a major step forward in leveling the playing field for thousands of 
LGBT business owners in California.”
 
Amid a cavalcade of recent pro-LBGT legislation, Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of AB1678 demonstrates the importance of economic inclusivity in the pursuit of full LGBT equality.
 

Late last month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1678. Authored by Assembly Member Rich Gordon, and backed by the NGLCC and our seven affiliate chambers in California, this first-of-its-kind law requires that public utilities in California extend to certified LGBT business enterprises (LGBTBEs) the same provisions currently granted to women-owned, ethnic minority-owned, and disabled veteran-owned businesses.
This bold legislation promises to strengthen the state’s already inclusive society and boost its economy. By prioritizing supplier diversity, California will be a model for the vibrant, innovative, and inclusive business practices that are essential for economic success in the 21st century. 
 
There are so many proud Californians whose dedication and labor made this law a reality and NGLCC is incredibly thankful to all those who stood with us in getting this bill passed. The collaborative nature of this entire endeavor is summed up by the words I spoke shortly after the Governor signed the bill into law:
 
“We are very proud of the hard work of our team, all seven of our Local Affiliate Chambers in California, our certified LGBT business owners, the California Small Business Association and other allied organizations that made passing this bill not only our priority, but also their priority. ”
 
To a few of our friends we extend particular gratitude for their leadership and support:
 
Many thanks to Michael Sestak, immediate past president of the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, and his husband Dennis Mangers, a former California legislator and successful lobbyist and activist. Their wisdom and connections allowed us to navigate and engage California’s legislature;
 
Dawn Ackerman, Vice President of the Golden Gate Business Association and owner of certified LGBTBE OutSmart Office Solutions. Her testimony before multiple hearings, alongside our tireless Vice President of Affiliate Relations and External Affairs Sam McClure, gave voice to this cause; 
 
Paul Pendergast, founder and owner of Pendergast Consulting, an NGLCC certified LGBTBE whose expertise as a consultant on this endeavor brought vitality and vision to our ground team in California. He has been with us every step of the way and brought California’s diverse business community to the table, enabling us to build this campaign; and 
 
Rick Hobbs, the Southern California Gas Co. Director of Supply Management and Supplier Diversity, whose vision and support has been so instrumental in our success.
 
We also extend our gratitude to California’s public utility companies, particularly AT&T, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas & Electric, whose support of this legislation and its implementation will ensure AB1678 has the positive impact on California’s LGBT small business community it deserves.
 
Of course, we are grateful for the support of our national partner organizations who joined us in a letter that encouraged Gov. Brown to sign this historic bill. We’d like to thank CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, Family Equality Council, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National LGBTQ Task Force, Action Fund, Out & Equal, PFLAG National, and The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.
 
We are incredibly thankful for having the opportunity to collaborate with seven dedicated and tireless local chambers. Many thanks to our friends at the Golden Gate Business Association, the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, the Desert Business Association, the Greater San Diego Business Association, the Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley. Together we’ve accomplished a great thing for the people of the Golden State.
 
And finally many thanks to Assembly Member Rich Gordon, Senator Mark Leno, Governor Brown, and the many other legislators who made this historic bill the law of the land. Your bold leadership in economic development and LGBT equality will not only benefit the people of California, but serve as a model for the nation to the benefit of all LGBT Americans. 
 
Justin Nelson