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A Better San Diego, an organization billed as a coalition of faith, community, and labor groups, kicked off Pride weekend with another installment of its roughly monthly breakfast forum series, focusing on the theme of community organizing and the accomplishments of and lessons to be learned from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Speakers included California Senator Christine Kehoe, airport authority board chairman Robert Gleason and Canvass for a Cause director of programs Jersey Deutsch.

“I’m proud of being the first member of the gay community to be elected to public office, but I’m even prouder that so many openly gay, bisexual, and transgendered people are serving in public office and appointed positions,” said Kehoe. “That is a real advancement.”

Kehoe went on to say that nearly 100 bills had passed during her time in state legislature dating to 2000 that in some way made advancements for the LGBT community.

Gleason followed Kehoe at the podium, and continued to reflect on LGBT accomplishments in recent years, saying that the number of gay elected officials in the U.S. had grown tenfold since 1991. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, on whose board Gleason serves, will endorse approximately 200 candidates nationally in upcoming elections, with an expected 70 percent win rate.

“I think the lesson for all of us, in all of our communities, is ‘coming out’ as yourself, whether it’s your orientation or your gender identity or your support for various causes,” said Gleason. “That’s always been the first step in building these coalitions.”

Deutsch, a recent San Diego transplant, was last to speak, focusing on the lessons learned in running an effective public awareness campaign. Inclusiveness appeared to be the recurring theme, as the talk touched on the need to employ easily understood language and maintain both a positive and assertive message.

“Turn confusing public education into accessible education,” Deutsch counseled the large contingent of young activists in attendance that filled the room beyond anticipated seating capacity, despite a change from recent forums that removed tables in favor of adding extra chairs.

San Diego Pride’s treasurer, Stephen Whitburn, “in the proud Pride tradition of hitting the bottle at nine in the morning,” closed the meeting with a mimosa toast.

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