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A New Day and The Center's Advocacy Priorities for 2021
January 19, 2021

As the nation stands poised for tomorrow’s Presidential Inauguration and new leadership with the Biden-Harris Administration, I hope that you will join us in looking toward our future with bold hope. The last four years have been difficult in general, but specifically for our LGBTQ community with our lives, our families, and our rights consistently under assault. But last November, voters mobilized, voted and made their voices heard, selecting leaders who value democracy, the role of the media, supports civil rights for all, and represents the diversity of America. It is because of every one of us, dedicated to making change, that tomorrow brings a new day. The Center will continue, as it has, to advocate, mobilize, and do the hard work every day to grow our collective power so that all of us have the chance to be safe, healthy, and empowered.
The Center has a dual role – providing services and advocacy to our community. We advocate for our community regionally, at the state level, and even nationally. This year, we set three regional priorities, rooted in our service delivery work as a health and human service provider.
  • Housing: The Center is a provider of a continuum of housing services and we will continue to advocate for more affordable, permanent, supportive, emergency, and LGBTQ-inclusive housing, as well as resources for rental relief for all, including our immigration community, and bolder renter protections.
  • Reimagining Policing: As a service provider, we center our work in trauma-informed care, and deeply understand the data and lived experiences of our community members which show that LGBTQ people and Black and Brown LGBTQ people are over policed in our region. We will continue to work with our partners at the Coalition for Police Accountability and Transparency (CPAT) in calling for local governments to pass the Police Accountability Now policy reforms. We are advocating to redirect ineffectively-allocated police activities and funding, to better suited non-law enforcement community based organizations to provide trauma-informed first responses.
  • Equitable Budget: This priority ensures an equitable budget that doesn’t leave marginalized communities behind. At the County and City level, we call for prioritizing resource investment in communities that have been historically under-resourced, and protecting these communities from being impacted by budget cuts. 
As part of our advocacy and coalition work, The Center is engaged in the budgeting process both at the City of San Diego and San Diego County, as they are critical in ensuring the resources are allocated in order to make a fairer and more just San Diego. Recently, we sent City Council President Campbell and her council colleagues a letter outlining The Center’s budget priorities for FY 2022. The Center recognizes the deficit that the City of San Diego is facing and the challenges that creates; The Center strongly urges bold leadership in reimagining the City's budget in order to create an equitable balanced budget.
2020 highlighted the inequities that many of us had already been experiencing, and that requires that we are our own advocates. Whether it’s sharing your story, making a call, or sending an email, our voices matter, and we would love to keep you engaged in our efforts. Please sign up to receive updates or calls to action from our Advocacy Team here.

Please stay healthy and well as we look forward to the future with bold hope that together, we can create a better San Diego for all of us. 
-Cara Dessert (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)
Chief Executive Officer

With the vaccine for COVID-19 rolling out across the country, we want to keep you updated as to the status of it in San Diego. The County of San Diego has been following federal and state guidelines, as well as working with the community through the County's COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Advisory Group, to determine those eligible for vaccinations. 

As the vaccine becomes available for the general public, information and details on COVID-19 vaccination sites will be made available on this San Diego County website. Update: As of today in San Diego County, those over the age of 75 are eligible for a vaccination.

Take the power into your own hands to help friends, family, and community stop the spread of COVID-19 by adding your phone to California’s exposure notification system to get COVID-19 exposure alerts. Visit CA Notify to get started. Once you activate CA Notify, all you do is keep your Bluetooth on and you will only receive alerts if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Your privacy is protected as your identity is not known and your location is not tracked. Learn more and get started here.
With COVID-19 cases rising in our region, The Center wants to let you know where you can get tested. Click here for a list of testing sites or dial 2-1-1. Most do not require an appointment, the test takes 5-10 minutes, with results available within 2-4 days. Please stay at home as much as possible, wear a mask, wash your hands, and do all you can to keep yourself and others safe so we all get through this together.
Breaking Barriers honors the global movement co-created on Jan 21, 2016, the ripples of hope and resistance that the Women’s March inspired, and the activism necessary for meaningful change for the path forward!

Join Women's March San Diego on January 23, 2021 for a reflection on four years of marches and a view to the path forward toward justice. There will be a retrospective video from the past four years (including YOUR photos and videos!), a special message from The Center's CEO, music, and live panels on social justice in an era of pandemic, Measure B and the future of police oversight in San Diego, and a very special conversation “a view from the mic” to hear the personal stories of activism from emcees from each of the past four San Diego Women’s Marches!  Watch on Facebook on Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 10 AM PST – 12 PM PST.
The Center knows that this is a difficult time for our community members. We want to help by providing free groceries and free delivery to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center, in partnership with 2-1-1, CIE San Diego, DoorDash and United Way, is delivering basic pantry items right to your door, including rice, soup, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, breakfast cereal, and more. Home deliveries take place on Tuesdays between 3pm-4pm.

If you have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in any way, please reach out to Sarah Merk-Benitez at for more information and to sign up.
The Center knows that many community members have faced financial hardship and/or food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this, for the month of January, The San Diego LGBT Community Center and Urban MO’s Bar & Grill will be partnering to offer a free meal. Please sign-up here:

Please share this link with friends, family, and community members who may benefit from this program. For questions and more information, please contact Sarah Merk-Benitez at
As you stay at home in the new year, The Center knows how important it is to stay connected. Join us for discussion and support groups, special programming, and more - all tailored for you and your needs via Zoom. Please visit our website, visit The Center's Facebook page, or call us at (619) 800-4252 from 9am - 4pm or (619) 800-4216 from 4pm - 9pm to find the right one for you.
We make it easy to share the word- just click this link and forward this E-News to a friend!  If your friends would like to sign up to stay informed, they can sign up here:
If you are in crisis or considering suicide, you are not alone.
There are resources and help available for you:
  • Trans Lifeline: 1.877.565.8860 - For trans or nonbinary folx in the US
  • Trevor Project Lifeline: 1.866.488.7386 - For LGBT youth (18-24)
  • National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.273.8255 - For all ages & identities
  • San Diego Access and Crisis Line: 1.888.724.7240 - Free suicide prevention/intervention hotline in San Diego County
Copyright © 2021 San Diego LGBT Community Center, All rights reserved.

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