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Meet two more of the 79th District’s candidates

Transgender San Diego

Sid Voorakkara

Wrapping up our coverage of the 79th Assembly District race, San Diego LGBT Weekly gave the two remaining candidates, well-known activist and educator, Shirley Weber and leading community activist, Sid Voorakkara the opportunity to present themselves to our readers with answers to our questions as well as to questions they would ask themselves.

Following last week’s cover-featured Q&A with Pat Washington Ph.D., who is also running for Assembly in the 79th, we decided to offer these two candidates this open-ended way of presenting their planks, because a dwindling calendar and a heavy news-month precluded interviews with Voorakkara and Weber. Following is what came back from the campaigns and their candidates:

Community Leader, Sid Voorakkara

San Diego LGBT Weekly: Were you surprised and/or disappointed with Progressive San Diego’s decision to endorse all three candidates instead of just yourself?

Sid Voorakkara: I am very proud and honored to have the support of Progressive San Diego. I’ve been working to advance progressive values and issues here locally for years – as a boardmember at Planned Parenthood and the San Diego LGBT Community Center as well as in my work in the non-profit community. The endorsement of Progressive San Diego is a great affirmation of the positive change I’ve strived to create in the region.

How can LGBT voters in the 79th District expect you to land on issues that affect them specifically?

My track record and commitment to fighting for equality and justice for the LGBT community is unquestionable. I serve on the board of the San Diego LGBT Community Center and was a co-chair of the San Diego No on 8 campaign and I am proud to be endorsed by Equality California, our state’s leading advocacy organization on behalf of the LGBT community. As an assemblymember, I won’t just be good on LGBT issues, I will be a champion and fierce advocate for the LGBT community. I strongly believe that many of the issues the LGBT community face represent the greatest civil rights struggles of our generation, whether it is marriage equality or increasing access to quality healthcare. We have an obligation to stand up for equality and justice. That is what I have done in my work in the community and it is what I will continue to do in the state Assembly.

Voorakkara for Assembly:

What is your professional background?

For almost seven years, Sid Voorakkara worked for The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation that makes grants to organizations and institutions benefitting the health and well-being of the people of California. According to his bio, Voorakkara “worked closely with high schools within the 79th Assembly District, San Diego’s hospital and community clinic systems, and numerous immigrant and refugee organizations.”

The bio goes on to say, “Sid has improved healthcare access for San Diego’s most vulnerable citizens and provided opportunities for students to pursue high-growth, high-wage jobs. Sid created the San Diego Workforce Funders Collaborative, which leverages philanthropic resources with government and the private sector to get San Diegans the training they need for today’s job market.”

Voorakkara’s community service includes work as vice chair of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest; a board member for the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center; as well as work while a board member of San Diego Grantmakers Association. Voorakkara is also a member of the Advisory Council to the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees.

Educator, Shirley Weber, Ph.D.

Gay and Lesbian News in San Diego

Shirley Weber

San Diego LGBT Weekly: Were you surprised and/or disappointed with Progressive San Diego’s decision to endorse all three candidates instead of just yourself?

Dr. Shirley Weber: I was honored to be included among Progressive San Diego’s endorsements. My only surprise or disappointment would have been if I weren’t included, as I am dedicated to equality for all and have been my entire life. I firmly believe that when rights are taken away and threatened for some, they are taken away and threatened for all.

How can LGBT voters in the 79th District expect you to land on issues that affect them specifically?

They can expect me to land squarely on their side as I believe in fairness, equality and opportunity for everyone. In 1996, I was honored by the Pride parade for my stance against bullying and anti-discriminatory practices as a member of San Diego’s Board of Education. I have always stood up for civil rights and fought against injustice and will absolutely continue to do so in the Assembly.

Weber for Assembly:

Were you pleased when President Obama announced his support for marriage equality?

I think it was an important message to send to our country and to the world and I think it was a brave stance to take, especially in an election year. It showed leadership on an issue that affects the lives of millions of our friends, family members and neighbors.

Is marriage equality a civil rights issue?

Recently, the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the world, declared that marriage equality is a civil rights issue. As vice president of our local branch, I support the position of the NAACP. I was born in the segregated south and when I moved to California I learned about providing opportunities for everyone. Having lived in an area where racism was very real, I simply can’t support denying rights to one group that other groups enjoy. Though almost inconceivable now, there was a time where African Americans couldn’t marry whites and the similarity between that and same-sex marriage isn’t lost on me and shouldn’t be lost on us as Americans.

Do you think marriage equality is inevitable?

I do. But, just like the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and similar movements, I don’t think it will happen overnight. According to a recent Gallup Poll, half of Americans support marriage equality. Back in 1996, only 27 percent supported it. We are moving in a more progressive, accepting direction as a nation and I think it will happen soon.

Should states where same-sex marriage is illegal recognize same-sex marriages from states where it is legal?

Couples of different genders certainly don’t have to worry about having their marriage recognized in a different state and it shouldn’t be any different for same-sex couples. However, we live in a country where states get to set many of their own policies, including recognition of marriages.



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Posted by LGBT Weekly on May 24, 2012. Filed under Feature Story, Top Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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