Longtime LGBT Ally Mariko Yamada Ends Her Political Career
by Jonathan Taylor
Mariko Yamada, one of the LGBT communities strongest allies and a champion for equality in the California legislature, lost her bid for the California State Senate this November, ending, she says, her political career.
Yamada, a former California Assemblymember from 2008 to 2014, lost to fellow Democrat Bill Dodd in the November 8th election for State Senate District 3 by a 58 to 42 percent margin.
Yamada has an impeccable record of support for the LGBT community; receiving a 100 percent rating from Equality California (EQCA) in multiple years, a 100 percent rating from the California United Institute for her position on LGBT equality, and a 94 percent rating from the California United Institute for her position on HIV/AIDS.
“We are going to be tested in the next four years,” says Yamada, referring to the election of Donald Trump as President. Not only the LGBT community, she notes, but as a nation we may be facing a drastic and damaging platform of severe spending cuts.
“Now is the time to take a stand, not a walk,” Yamada says as the Trump Administration implements what many are calling the most anti-LGBT platform in history.
Yamada says she is committed to continuing her work in LGBT advocacy even though this will be her last campaign for public office. She has plans to support other Democrats and “Staying true to Democratic values.” She says the most challenging part of the past election was running a grassroots campaign, Bill Dodd out raised her campaign ten-to-one.
Yamada can speak personally of inequality and discrimination. Her family was placed in a Japanese internment camp during WWII, the Manzanar War Relocation Center. The experience helped shape her to become a strong advocate for human and civil rights at the personal level, her community and her state.
She received a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. This led to a decade working at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, D.C.; followed with working as an Investigator with the Civil Rights division of the United States Department of Commerce as the only female, and nine years on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.
In the California Assembly, Yamada passed 31 bills in six years.
She speaks of her home city Davis with great pride and fondness, noting that the city passed the first pro-equality ordinance and is the home of Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac, one of the first couples married by Gavin Newsom.
She says of the next stage of progress “It is important to not only change laws, but hearts.”
Jonathan Taylor has written for Examiner.com and Stonewall Democrats Quarterly and is an LGBT political and economic writer, with a B.S. in Accountancy from University of Phoenix, and a Master of Legal Studies from Drexel University.