Jerry Gonzalez:  Surviving COVID-19

Jerry Gonzalez:  Surviving COVID-19

June 1, 2020

By:  Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO

It was Mother’s Day.  I woke up with a slight fever and a slight persistent cough.  I felt some body aches as well

My husband woke up and was feeling fine, but felt my skin warm to the touch.  He took my temperature and it was 100.5.  Immediately, he recommended we get tested for COVID-19.  We got tested at a facility that had 30 minute turn around for results and we were also lucky to get an appointment on that same day.

Upon arriving, the process moved along smoothly.  We had to have our appointment proof and our ID’s ready.  Our windows closed the whole time, volunteers and police pointed to where we needed to go.  Then, we were approached by either a volunteer or medical professional fully geared in PPE with gowns, face mask & shield, gloves.  With the window cracked enough for a swab, she instructed us to take the swab from her and how deep we needed to go into our noses for an effective test.

Then, we waited in our car to receive the results.  Thoughts of all of the serious hospitalizations and deaths were top of mind for us while we also reassured each other.  The time waiting for the results seemed like the longest wait we had experienced. Finally, we did get a call from a nurse with the results.  We were both positive for COVID-19; and, the world stopped for a long moment for both of us.  She proceeded to let us know we should isolate at home and not leave the house for any reason other than for seeking medical care.

During our short ride home, we discussed what we needed to do and discussed scenarios in case one or both of us were to get hospitalized, or worse put on a ventilator.  We had to prepare ourselves for that reality.  We also began to second guess ourselves on where we fell short in our efforts to prevent infection.  Where did it happen?  The coronavirus is everywhere.  It could have happened anywhere and all the virus needed was one opportunity to infect us both.

After getting home, we had to call our mothers to wish them a “Happy Mother’s Day” but we had both decided we would not let them know anything about our results until the quarantine period passed.  We did not want to worry our parents needlessly given the daily news of deaths and growing infections.  We hoped and prayed we would be able to tell them after our quarantine time was over and that it was uneventful…we hoped and prayed for that.

Fortunately, we do have a close circle of friends who are doctors, specifically who work in the emergency rooms and with infections diseases.  We did get a best scenario discussion with them and they advised on what we needed to do now and what we needed to look for to head to the hospital, in case it did come to that.  One of the two things that was helpful for us to consider was the taking of baby aspirin daily because of the situation with COVID-19 causing strokes in some people.  In addition, our friends warned about ensuring we did daily checks of our oxygen levels in our blood through a simple pulse oximeter, which we were glad to have access to.  If our levels fell below 92%, we were to head for the hospital.  There had been cases of healthy people waiting too long before they sought medical care and ended up either dying or being placed on a ventilator because of the delay in seeking medical care.

The days and night that followed were difficult. Anxiety was high for us both thinking of the worst-case scenarios hourly.  Yes, in hindsight, that is irrational; but, when you are dealing with it yourself, your mind races with anxiety and your emotions take over our rational thinking goes out the window.

We are both fortunate that we had each other.  We are blessed to have our home to quarantine together.  We had stocked up with food in our pantry to last us two weeks.  We have a tight circle of friends that checked in on us daily and provided needed supplies.  We are fortunate that we had the resources to have some groceries delivered to our home.  We are privileged to be able to also work some from home during this period of quarantine.

My slight fever and cough lasted four days.  The body aches lasted a bit longer and my body felt weak.  Each day was filled with anxiety and hope of the fever passing.  Each hour, I was thinking about whether my symptoms would worsen and whether I may require hospitalization.  My husband, on the other hand, was asymptomatic the whole time; yet, he was also feeling terrified that one of us could wind up in the hospital.

Last week, our nation reached a grim milestone of over 100,000 deaths from COVID-19.  Last week, we also ended our 14-day quarantine without requiring any hospitalization.  The CDC recommendations for quarantine were only for 10 days, but we wanted to make certain we would not be responsible for spreading the virus to anyone else.

The coronavirus causing this global pandemic is still with us and it is everywhere.   With loosening of lockdown processes everywhere, the virus will continue to spread.  Everyone out in public should wear a mask in order to significantly reduce the spread by asymptomatic people.  This virus is deadly still and we have a grim reminder of the 100,000 deaths we just mourned together as a nation.  Despite hospitalizations being down in some areas, the virus is still taking a serious toll on people.  The virus is disproportionately seriously impacting the poor, essential workers, the elderly, African Americans and Latinos.

In order to honor those we have lost, we must work collectively to contain the spread.  It is up to us all to stop the virus; and we have a common shared sense of responsibility to do everything that we can to slow and stop the spread of the virus.

Wash your hands.

Don’t touch your face.

Wear a mask in public.

Stay home as much as you can.

Avoid large crowds.

Follow CDC guidelines and please do take this virus seriously until we have a vaccine.

Despite the fact that I came out of this situation with minimal symptoms or impact on my health, I would not wish what we went through on anyone.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

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COVID-19 and Elections (Coronavirus y las Elecciones)- Edición Bilingüe

By Natalia B. Dutra

31 May 2020

COVID-19 and Elections

The world, as we know it, is going through drastic changes; a microscopic organism has halted our daily lives and has devastated many communities. As we continue to practice social distancing, staying inside when possible, practicing good hygiene, and helping others, there are ways to resume our regular habits. One thing that should not be affected by this pandemic is our democracy. Although it is currently less safe to vote at your polling station, there are other ways to make your voice heard. 

The Georgia General Primary was initially scheduled for May 24th and the Presidential Preference Primary for some time in March, but since the Coronavirus outbreak, the date has jumped around. As of today, the elections have been both pushed to June 9th. Just because election day has been postponed doesn’t mean you have to wait to exercise your civil rights; there are ways to vote right now from the comfort and safety of your home. The state has announced that all active, registered voters will receive absentee ballot applications in the mail in hopes of increasing voter turnout. Once this form is completed and returned to the mailing address, you will receive your absentee ballot, which allows you to vote in the election. After mailing your completed ballot, you will officially have participated in the election. Congratulations! 

It is as simple as that, but what should you do if you have not received anything in the mail? You can find the absentee ballot application online at the official Georgia Secretary of State website. Once you download and complete the form, you can submit it to your local County Board of Registrar’s Office through the mail, fax, or even email. Once you finish the application process, you will receive your ballot in the mail. We recommend you return it via mail by June 1st. 

Despite these unprecedented times, voting is still crucial. This election cycle will determine what the general election looks like, and the upcoming general election will significantly impact the future of our community. Many positions are up for reelection, such as congressional seats; therefore, it is of paramount importance that we continue to participate in elections. It is our civic duty to ensure that the people in office are fighting for legislation that supports, protects, and uplifts our diverse community so that in trying times like these, we have competent leadership. 


Coronavirus y las Elecciones

El mundo, como lo conocemos, está pasando por cambios drásticos; un organismo microscópico ha parado nuestras vidas diarias y ha devastado muchas comunidades. A medida que continuamos practicando el distanciamiento social, permaneciendo dentro cuando es posible, practicando la buena higiene y ayudando a otros, hay maneras de resumir nuestros hábitos normales. Una cosa que no debería verse afectada por esta pandemia es nuestra democracia. Aunque actualmente es menos seguro físicamente emitir un voto, hay otras maneras de hacer que su voz sea escuchada.

La Primaria General de Georgia se programó inicialmente para el 24 de mayo y la Primaria de Preferencia Presidencial por algún tiempo en marzo, pero desde el brote del coronavirus, la fecha ha cambiado varias veces. A partir de hoy, las dos elecciones se llevarán a cabo el día 9 de junio. Sólo porque el día de las elecciones ha sido pospuesto, no significa que usted tiene que esperar para ejercer sus derechos civiles; hay maneras de votar ahora mismo desde la comodidad y la seguridad de su hogar. El estado de Georgia ha anunciado que todos los votantes registrados y activos recibirán las solicitudes de papeleta por correo con la esperanza de aumentar la participación electoral. Una vez completado este formulario y devuelto a la dirección de correo, recibirá su boleta para votar por correo, que le permite votar en la elección. Después de enviar su boleta completa, usted habrá participado oficialmente en la elección. ¡Felicidades!

Es tan simple como eso, pero ¿qué debe hacer si no ha recibido nada en el correo? Puede encontrar la solicitud de la papeleta de ausencia en línea en el sitio web oficial del Secretario de Estado de Georgia. Una vez que descargue y complete el formulario, puede enviarlo a la Oficina del Registro del Condado a través de correo postal, fax o incluso correo electrónico. Una vez que termine el proceso de solicitud, recibirá su boleta por correo, y una vez que haya terminado, la devolverá por correo,  antes del 1 de junio.

A pesar de estos tiempos sin precedentes, la votación sigue siendo crucial. Este ciclo electoral determinará cómo serán las elecciones generales, y las próximas elecciones generales tendrán un impacto significativo en el futuro de nuestra comunidad. Muchos cargos se presentan a la reelección, como los escaños del Congreso; por lo tanto, es de suma importancia que sigamos participando en las elecciones. Es nuestro deber cívico asegurar que las personas en el cargo estén luchando por una legislación que apoye, proteja y eleve nuestra diversa comunidad para que, en tiempos difíciles como estos, tengamos un liderazgo competente.


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How COVID-19 is Affecting Immigration

By Cyntia Sosa

31 May 2020

How COVID-19 is Affecting Immigration

The pandemic that has been brought on by COVID-19 has affected various parts of our society, especially in closing different businesses and forcing citizens to socially distance from others. A major affect that this pandemic has on society is how it is impacting immigration and immigrant communities. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that they will be closing their offices until June 4th, which could have an impact on different systems such as DACA renewals and appointments that had been scheduled during the closures.

These closures and halt on services has caused various services to be cancelled or rescheduled such as interviews, naturalizations, biometrics appointments, oath ceremonies, and much more. Because of this, many immigration benefit processing’s have also been stalled. U.S. embassies and consulates around the world have been closed which will affect visa services. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) announced that there would be a delay in the enforcement of detaining people who are not considered public safety risks, as well as not pursuing them in hospitals or other health care facilities (Redmon, 2020).

Even though the USCIS offices are closed, DACA renewals are still being processed. USCIS has announced that they will be using previously submitted biometrics for renewals for people who had appointments scheduled ahead of time. There are many DACA recipients and immigrants who are in the frontlines working to care for others during the pandemic, but they have been excluded from things such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (C.A.R.E.S ACT), which was created to provide American citizens with assistance during these difficult times, however it excluded the vulnerable population of immigrants. They were excluded from provisions that would ensure testing and economic relief to those who were eligible for the assistance, which not only poses a risk for these communities but also for the people that they are around every day. COVID-19 affects everyone in the community, regardless of race or ethnicity, so people should have equal access to resources ensuring that we move forward as a country in public safety and in our economy.

Works Cited

ACLU News & Commentary. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Chishti, M., Chishti, S. P. M., & Pierce, S. (2020, April 9). Crisis within a Crisis: Immigration in the United States in a Time of COVID-19. Retrieved from

Frequently Asked Questions about DACA Renewals in the Middle of COVID-19 Crisis. (2020, April 2). Retrieved from (n.d.). Retrieved from

Redmon, J. (2020, March 26). Immigrants, refugees in Georgia vulnerable amid coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from




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Leading Voting Rights Advocates Host Virtual Town Hall to Mobilize Voters Ahead of Primaries



CONTACT: Adam Sweat, 678-951-2172


Leading Voting Rights Advocates Host Virtual Town Hall to Mobilize Voters Ahead of Primaries


Thursday, April 28, 2020 (ATLANTA, GA) –  Leading voting rights organizations, convened by the ProGeorgia table, are hosting a Virtual Town Hall on May 4th. The event will encourage voter registration and participation, especially in historically marginalized and underserved communities, ahead of the primary elections on June 9, 2020. elections.


ProGeorgia’s Election Protection Coalition is proud to support Georgia voters via our national, non-partisan Election Protection Hotlines: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683) | 1-888-54GALEO (544-2536) (SPANISH/ENGLISH)| (404) 955-7322 (Asian Languages/English) | 844-YALLA-US (925-5287) (Arabic/English).


Details about the upcoming virtual town hall follow:


WHO: ProGeorgia

All Voting is Local


Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta

Georgia NAACP

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Common Cause GA

League of Women Voters Georgia

Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda

Southern Poverty Law Center


WHEN: Monday, May 4, 2020, 6:30 – 8:00pm EST


WHAT: Virtual town hall


WHERE: Via Zoom


WHY: COVID-19 has necessitated multiple changes to Georgia’s voting

landscape. This virtual town hall will help voters better understand how to take part in the upcoming primary elections. Panelists will provide insight into their latest interactions with the Secretary of State’s office, as well as speak to new and online lawsuits and activities regarding election protection, highlighting perspectives relevant to members of historically underrepresented and marginalized groups, including youth, people of color, immigrants, and disabled members of Georgia’s population.


This town hall will be followed by a Spanish-language virtual town hall hosted by GALEO on May 11, 2020 from 6:00pm – 7:00pm via Facebook Live at


About ProGeorgia

ProGeorgia is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. ProGeorgia supports and coordinates the civic engagement programs of our diverse partner organizations, and develops the infrastructure, executes the joint strategies, and employs new tools and technology to assure a government that is more responsive to the needs of our constituencies.

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Executive Director Jerry Gonzalez Honored in 41 LGBTQ Latinx Role Models

April 14, 2020 Alberto B. Mendoza
HONOR 41 Announces 2020 “The 41 List” Honorees

41 List Recognizes 41 LGBTQ Latinx Role Models

LOS ANGELES, CA – Honor 41 is proud to announce the fifth edition of “The 41 List,” which
celebrates 41 LGBTQ Latinx role models. This year’s 41 List includes a diverse group of
distinguished professors, journalists, community leaders, actors, elected officials, activists, non-profit
leaders, artists, students, entrepreneurs, and more.

“Honor 41 promotes awareness and positive images of the Latinx LGBTQ community. Celebrating
this year’s honorees and sharing their stories is an incredible personal honor,” said Alberto B.
Mendoza, founder of Honor 41 and Producer of The 41 List. “Their work is paving the way for the
Latinx LGBTQ community to come out and embrace their lives with authentically and with orgullo.”
Beginning April 21, video interviews of each honoree will be released on the organization’s social
media channels and website. The videos highlight each of the honoree’s personal experience with
coming out and how religion, culture, family, and HIV/AIDS have impacted their lives.
To view a video of all 41 honorees click here.

There are nine different countries that represent our honorees which include the United States,
Puerto Rico, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Spain,Cuba, and Uruguay. Our honorees
come from 20 different cities and 30 percent of them are under the age of 30, and 25 percent identify
as transgender or gender-nonconforming.

Amongst the group is a professor, a city council member, two survivors of pulse, founder of the
International Imperial court, five journalists, ten executive directors, actors, documentarians, students,
president of the Realtors Association, and more.

The 2020 honorees are:
1. Thom A. Hernandez, Palm Springs
2. Giuliani J. Alvarenga, New Orleans
3. Eddy F. Alvarez Jr. Portland OR,
4. Jamie Arangure, San Diego
5. Damian Cabrera, San Juan,
6. Nancy Cañas, DC
7. Felicia Carbajal, Los Angeles
8. Cora Cervantes, Los Angeles
9. Michaé De La Cuadra, Los Angeles
10. Brian De Los Santos, Palm Springs

11. Jose Luis Dieppa, Orlando
12. Ashley Figueroa, Orlando
13. Robert Gamboa, Los Angeles
14. Jesse Garcia, DC
15. Ana Gomez, DC
16. Brandon Gomez, NYC
17. Jerry Gonzalez, Atlanta
18. Jonatan Guerrero, Charleston
19. Yozantli J. Lagunas, Sacramento
20. Andres Martinez, Anaheim

21. Eddie Martinez, Los Angeles
22. Maritza Martinez, Oakland
23. Jorge Matamoros, Madrid, Spain
24. Julio Matamoros, Madrid, Spain
25. Morgan Mayfaire, Miami
26. Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, DC
27. Ryan Mendoza, Los Angeles
28. Xelestial Moreno-Luz, San Diego
29. Nicole Murray Ramirez, San Diego
30. Ricardo J. Negron-Almodovar,
31. Karari Olvera Orozco, Chicago
32. Alexis Ortega, Palm Springs
33. Andre Perez, Berkeley
34. Ezak Perez, Los Angeles
35. Francisco Ruiz, Atlanta
36. Valerie Palacios, Louisville
37. Li ann (Estrella) Sanchez, Atlanta
38. Antonio Santos, Chicago
39. Robert Salcido, San Antonio
40. Monica Trasandes, Los Angeles
41. Jamie Zapata, San Antonio

Quotes from honorees:
Robert Salcido, Director of the San Antonio LGBTQ Center

“Growing up as a young Queer Latino, examples that showed me that I could
simultaneously be Queer, successful, and thrive were nonexistent. Being honored by
The 41 List is an opportunity for me to represent those qualities to our younger
generations now and in the future.”

Jaime Zapata

“Positive role models are important for the LGBTQ+ community because many of us
struggled without any kind of support in the past.  When we advocate for ourselves and
others, we shatter the stereotypes placed on us by society and break barriers for the
next generation.”

Lisbeth Melendez Rivera

“As a Puerto Rican butch dyke who was raised in Caguas, Puerto Rico, I carry the
struggles and resilience of my people with me. I am humbled to be recognized by Honor
41 for more than seven years of passion-filled work in Latinx, queer and trans, and faith-
rooted movements for social justice. I send my congratulations to all of the other
honorees. Es siempre un honor ser reconocida por y con mis compatriotas. Pa’lante

Ricardo Negron-Almodovar

“This labor of love done by Honor 41 is nothing short of remarkable. As a proud gay
boricua, I feel very honored to be included in a list with so many amazing, powerful and
fearless people. It’s so important for our community to have a space where we are
uplifted, celebrated  and where other LGBTQ+ latinx individuals can find leaders and
role models to look up to, learn together and create meaningful connections.”

Jerry Gonzalez

“In the Latinx community, we do need to have dignity in our GLBTQ community and the
many contributions we make.  I am a proud Latino, who is also a gay man.  I do my
work for the community and I bring my whole self to the table.  That is what makes us
more passionate and stronger about our work.”

Jonatan Guerrero

Honor41 celebrating role models in our community means this giving us a platform to
highlight the work folxs are doing in small cities and in our small communities. This
platform highlights the grassroots organizers and is giving our people the hope and
drive to keep moving forward. This nation was built by the sweat of immigrants and
highlighting our LGBTQ+ leaders is showing the process we are making for the next
generation to come! Our journey is not over yet, this is just the beginning for us! I am
honored to be part of this list and I hope my story will help influence our youth para
seguir luchando y saber que sí se puede!!!

Jamie Arangure

Es un privilegio ser parte de los #41 Honor 2019-2020 y compartir este reconocimiento
con todos los elegidos en esta edición, ya que nuestra misión es servir a los demás con
el propósito de alcanzar la igualdad justa para nuestra comunidad " LGBT+" El
reconocer a nuestros líderes activistas de la comunidad es de suma importancia, lo
cual es una motivación para seguir logrando nuestras metas, tomando esta plataforma
para crecer individual y profesionalmente.

Jesse Garcia

“It is an honor to be recognized in this virtual museum of people who not only bravely
came out of the closet but took to the streets to fight for our right to exist. So many
stories and journeys would have been lost and ignored by history books because of our
orientation, gender, skin color and/or where we originated. No more. Our revolution will
be televised.”

Why celebrating role models is important:
“I’m a storyteller and focus my podcast regularly on Latinx people who are making
positive change. I appreciate Honor 41’s similar mission of recognizing role models,
both young and old, who give hope to the next generation. These children need to see
one of us making it in this world. Our success provides them a roadmap on how to get
out of a hurtful place. So many grow up unloved, unsupported and mistreated for being
queer. Our journeys will help guide them.”

Cora Cervantes:

I am proud and honored to be a part of the Honor 41 project. This project is important to
me because it gave me a space to share a part of my story with my family, friends, and
community. My choice to participate in the Honor 41 project is rooted in the belief that
we must be for others what we needed at a young age. I wish that as a young Latina I
had access to space like this one.
It is important to increase our visibility so that the next generation can find examples of
resilience, acceptance, community, and pride. I hope that the collection of these stories
helps to continue to bridge the gap in understanding within the Latino community.


Honor 41’s name originates from an anti-gay hate crime that took place in Mexico City.
In the 1901 incident, 41 men were beaten, arrested, and eventually disappeared for
their sexual orientation. Since then, the number 41 has been used as slang in Mexico to
refer to gay men. Honor 41 reclaims the number to honor inspirational individuals in the
LGBTQ community and their tireless work toward acceptance and equality. For more
information about Honor 41, an independent 501(c)(3), online non-profit organization,
please visit:

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Voting Rights Advocates File Emergency Suit Seeking to Provide Access to Bilingual Absentee Ballot Applications in Georgia


April 13, 2020


Voting Rights Advocates File Emergency Suit Seeking to Provide Access to Bilingual Absentee Ballot Applications in Georgia


Lawsuit Filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on Behalf of Georgia Organizations


April 13, 2020, Atlanta, GA – Today, voting rights advocates filed an emergency lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.  The plaintiffs are demanding that Gwinnett County provide bilingual absentee ballot applications to Spanish speaking voters.  They seek to remedy election officials’ recently mailing English-only applications to voters in violation of federal law.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (“Lawyers’ Committee”) and the Law Firm of Bryan Sells LLC brought the suit on behalf of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO); Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda (People’s Agenda); Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta (Advancing Justice); New Georgia Project (NGP) and Common Cause.


The plaintiffs will be seeking emergency relief as soon as possible because the English-only applications can be used in the June 9 primary.  They seek to provide bilingual absentee ballot applications to Gwinnett County’s Spanish-speaking voters.  They are guaranteed the right to receive election materials in English and Spanish under Sections 203 and 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


“Sending English-only absentee ballot applications in a diverse county covered under Section 203 is yet another attempt at voter suppression, which is a direct violation of the constitutional rights,” said Kristen Clarke, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “With Georgia’s primary election looming, it is imperative that Gwinnett County and other Georgia counties comply with their obligations under the Voting Rights Act and permit Spanish-speaking voters an equal opportunity to cast their ballot and have their voice heard.”


The lawsuit alleges that Gwinnett County’s failure to send the Spanish language version of the absentee ballot application violates the minority language access provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  Moreover, there is no Spanish language version of the form available for download from the Secretary of State’s website.  There is no Spanish language version visible on the Gwinnett County Elections’ website.  Voters only have the option of clicking on a button in the bottom right hand corner to find an inaccurate computer-generated translation of the application.  The lawsuit asks that election officials post an accurately translated version of the application on their websites.


“Section 203 protects access to all Spanish language dominant voters in Gwinnett County, regardless of who sends out election information,” said Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.  “The Secretary of State’s office and Gwinnett County have a responsibility to ensure they provide equal access to all constituencies but failed to do so in this recent mailing of absentee ballot applications.  Given the change in date to the primary election, they have ample time to correct this mistake and send bilingual applications and ballots in full compliance with federal law.”


“As leaders scramble to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic does not cut off access to the ballot, it’s critical that they protect voters who already face barriers to voting even when we are not in the middle of a public health crisis.  No one should have to choose between democracy and their health,” aid Phi Nguyen, Litigation Director at Advancing Justice-Atlanta.


“Gwinnett County has been covered by these provisions of the law since 2016,” said Cindy Battles, Program Coordinator at Common Cause.  “Even during a public health emergency, our laws still apply.  Elections officials should know their obligations to provide equal access to absentee ballot applications for our upcoming elections.”


“The health and safety of Gwinnett County’s Spanish-speaking voters is important and worthy of protection, too,” said Atlanta attorney Bryan Sells.


The Secretary of State and Gwinnett County must take immediate action to remedy the violation of Sections 203 and 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act.  Otherwise, Gwinnett County’s limited English proficient Spanish speaking voters will not be able to effectively cast an absentee ballot in the upcoming election.  Voting in person is not an option for many voters, particularly the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Gwinnett County became covered under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act starting in December 2016.  Section 4(e) applies nationwide, including to the Georgia Secretary of State.


To learn more, visit the Lawyer’s Committee’s Voting Rights Project page at




About Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 57th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.


Contact: Sue Dorfman | |


About the Law Offices of Bryan L. Sells LLC

The Law Office of Bryan L. Sells is a boutique civil rights law firm, based in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in voting rights, election law, and redistricting.


About the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials

GALEO’s mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia.  GALEO strives for a better Georgia where the Latino community is engaged civically and its contributions and concerns are recognized.


About Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta is the first nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities in Georgia and the Southeast.  We are one of five independent organizations that make up the national Asian Americans Advancing Justice.  Together with our affiliates in Chicago, DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco, we bring more than 100 years of collective experience in addressing the civil rights issues faced by Asian Americans and other vulnerable and underserved communities.


About the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda

The Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda (GCPA) was founded by Dr. Joseph E. Lowery and is based in Atlanta, Georgia.  It is a coalition of more than 30 organizations, which collectively have more than 5,000 individual members.  The mission of the GCPA is to improve the quality of governance in Georgia; to help create a more informed and active electorate; and to have responsive and accountable elected officials.  In addition to a primary focus upon voting empowerment and civic engagement, the GCPA maintains active committees on Education, Criminal Injustice and Environmental Justice.


About Common Cause Georgia

Common Cause Georgia is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that works to strengthen public participation in our democracy and ensure that public officials and public institutions are accountable and responsive to citizens. Through a powerful combination of coalition building, lobbying and litigation, grassroots organizing, policy development, research, and public education, we spotlight local, state and national issues that affect every Georgian.

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NALEO Educational Fund Calls on Congress to Step in on Census 2020

April 13, 2020
Kevin Perez-Allen,
(714) 499-4481

Marcus Silva,
(510) 456-5444

NALEO Educational Fund Calls on Congress to Step in on Census 2020

Strong oversight by Congress is paramount to salvaging the 2020 Census

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund today released a statement from CEO Arturo Vargas on the Census Bureau’s request for a 120-day statutory relief of critical legislative deadlines amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis:

“In light of the recent developments from the Census Bureau, it has become clear that salvaging the 2020 Census will require Congress to step up its oversight role and act swiftly alongside the Bureau to protect the enumeration process moving forward.

“As the census is a constitutionally mandated decennial count, there is only so much the Bureau can do on its own to maintain the integrity of the process amid a national crisis like the one we are experiencing with COVID-19.  Congress has the authority and obligation to work with the Bureau in taking a close look at all steps required to ensure an accurate count of all residents in the United States.

“We realize the current challenges before the Bureau.  We also understand the risks our community faced of an undercount before the COVID-19 pandemic – from significant changes to Census 2020 operations, to a lack of funding and oversight from Congress during the critical planning years leading up to 2020, to what our research revealed as a lingering chilling effect from the Trump Administration’s failed attempt to add a citizenship question.  The totality of the situation we now find ourselves in demands that our government rises to the occasion with transparent, steady, and deliberate action to salvage the 2020 Census.

“As households began receiving invitations on March 12, our organization has been steadfast in promoting Latino self-response online, by phone, or by mail.  And as paper forms are arriving now, we have launched a Latino Census Week of Action in partnership with our friends at Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo, some of Broadway’s top Latino performers, and many of our Latino census partners to aggressively push self-response via mail.  A strong self-response rate reduces the number of households the Census Bureau must pursue to obtain census data during the Non-Response Follow Up (NRFU) period.

“While high self-response rates can help reduce the workload for NRFU, this operation is the most vital element for completing the census and achieving a 100 percent count of Latinos and other populations.  We will be scrutinizing the Census Bureau’s NRFU plans and operations when they resume, ensuring that they are sufficiently robust and aggressive in reaching all households that did not self-respond in the initial phase of the census.  An incomplete or inadequate NRFU operation is not an option.

“NALEO Educational Fund remains committed to our partnership with the Census Bureau during these extraordinary times.  As the Latino population continues to grow and flourish, it is essential that the census reflects this reality both for the sake of our community’s future and the overall integrity of the census.  Latinos represent the second-largest population group in the country.  An undercount of Latinos would mean a failed census.  This census must, at a minimum, match the count of our community from the 2010 Census, with better accuracy in 2020, capturing our growth and diversity correctly.  Anything less would be unacceptable.

“The Census Bureau’s request for deadline extensions is a sobering reminder of the importance of completing the census in a timely manner without sacrificing accuracy.  Time is not on our side.  The further enumeration operations take place from April 1, the less accurate and complete the count becomes.  Additionally, a 120-day statutorily-mandated deadline relief for delivering apportionment counts and redistricting data does not give license to the states to proceed with redistricting in a manner that compromises constitutional and Voting Rights Act protections for voters or public participation and input in the process.

“The Constitution places the responsibility for carrying out the decennial census squarely in the hands of Congress.  In light of this obligation, it is time for Congress to take a strong leadership and oversight role if Census 2020 is to be saved.”

Residents can self-respond to the census online at or over the
phone in English by dialing 844-330-2020 or in Spanish at 844-468-2020.  Paper census forms are arriving in the mail from April 8-16, which can be returned via mail once completed.

Individuals with questions about the census can call NALEO Educational Fund’s toll-free national
census bilingual hotline at 877-EL-CENSO (877-352-3676) – Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.–
8:30 p.m. ET to get additional information.

Partners can stay up to date on tools to continue to get out the count in Latino communities by
visiting, texting CENSUS to 97779, or by subscribing to our email list here.

About NALEO Educational Fund
NALEO Educational Fund is the nation’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.
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This is a time for Unity, not another round of viral hatred

March 28th, 2020

During these extraordinary times when we are all learning to live physically distant yet socially more proximate, we are seeing bias and bigotry flood our networks. Uncertainty and anxiety are too often laying the path for hatred to flourish. Our push for survival has us forgetting that community is what makes survival possible.

We need each other, now more than ever. And we need to be unified in fighting this virus.

This is not the time for horrific discrimination against our Asian-American brothers and sisters who, while experiencing the same uncertainty and anxiety that we all feel about this virus, are also being victimized by hatred. Our leaders using racist, misleading rhetoric of “Chinese Virus” and “Kungflu” open the doors for further discrimination and has led to some hate crimes against our Asian-American neighbors.  It is up to all of us to deny the place of racism and hatred, especially right now.

This is not the time for the spread of antisemitism, a trend that historically always seems to rise in times of uncertainty. Vile, antisemitic conspiracy theories about the Jewish orchestration of COVID-19 or Jewish profiteering from this global public health crisis are running wild on social media, and it is up to all of us to deny the place of antisemitism, especially right now.

This is not the time for xenophobic hatred spewed towards immigrants and the Latinx community, or “I told you so”s about travel bans and hate-building walls. We are seeing the grotesque targeting of undocumented immigrants and the institution of immigration, as people throw blame around for this global pandemic. It is up to all of us to not oppress our immigrants and those who have sought safe asylum, especially now.

This time of uncertainty and anxiety is not the time for hateful extremists to find their messages mainstreamed, or any comfort whatsoever in mainstream narratives.

This is a time for unity.

This is a time for community.

This is a time for love.

As we all figure out life in this temporary new normal, physically isolated from our loved ones, our networks and our lives, this is a time when we need each other and we need love. We need to strongly and unequivocally deny hatred into our lives, and strongly and unequivocally reach out in unity so that we can fight this virus and the hate that it has brought to light collectively, stronger together.

Love, community, and hope keep us alive. Hatred, bigotry, and fear divide and conquer us.

It’s a question of humanity. It’s a question of morality and love. And it’s a question of survival.


Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO (Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials)

Allison Padilla-Goodman, Vice President Southern Division, ADL (Anti-Defamation League)


This article originally appeared on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The original article can be found here.


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March 20, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 275 civic leaders, non-profit organizations, elected officials, state and local groups Monday unveiled a watchdog coalition pledging to help monitor and protect the confidentiality of 2020 Census data.

The coalition, led by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), The Leadership Conference Education Fund, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, will use their collective expertise, power, and influence to safeguard the strict census data confidentiality requirements, and to assure people that they should participate in the Census and secure resources important for their family and community without worry.

“Heightened distrust in elements of the federal government is a threat to our nation’s ability to secure an accurate Census, which is so critical to our democracy’s next decade,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.  “This Census data confidentiality protection pledge provides reassurance to all – including hardworking Census Bureau staff themselves — that powerful forces outside of government are working together to protect data confidentiality and the integrity of Census 2020.”

Federal law requires the Census Bureau to protect any personal and household information it collects and bars it from sharing such information with any other government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement, housing authorities, public benefit administrators, or other agencies for 72 years.

“Individual census responses are protected by some of the strictest confidentiality protections in federal law and, as advocates, we know how to help enforce them,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “This coalition of census watchdogs is using the best tools in our collective arsenal — our political influence, our legal expertise, and our dedication to vulnerable communities — to ensure people feel comfortable participating in the 2020 Census. We’ve done it before when we prevented the citizenship question from being added to the 2020 Census. Everyone should know that by law, your information can’t be used against you by ICE, law enforcement, landlords, or public benefits providers. The Census Bureau has a legal responsibility keep the personal data it collects confidential, which it takes very seriously. We are on watch to help ensure no one interferes with that obligation.”

Census data are crucial to allocating seats in Congress, drawing accurate election districts, and ensuring equitable distribution of federal funds for a wide range of vital programs including schools, hospitals, and other social services.

The coalition is working to boost responses among communities that have been historically undercounted by reassuring households that not only are the Census confidentiality protections in law the strongest in the nation, but that the coalition is poised to help enforce them so personal information remains protected from any potential threat of disclosure.

“We continue to hear concerns reverberating through communities of color, particularly the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, about the confidentiality of their information when filling out the 2020 Census but we are here to provide reassurance,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “For a community that includes undocumented immigrants and individuals in mixed-status households, it is imperative to remind them about the legal protections that will protect their responses to the 2020 Census. We have had to fight for a fair and accurate census before and we will do it again if necessary.”

Children, undocumented immigrants, racial/ethnic minorities and people experiencing homelessness are among the least likely to be counted accurately due in large part to a distrust in government and risk losing their fair share of political power and resources.

“During WWII, the U.S. government used Census data to incarcerate 120,000 Japanese Americans. This was a shocking betrayal of the bureau’s pledge of confidentiality of Census data,” said actor and activist, George Takei whose family was interned during WWII. “This historic violation galvanized citizens who cherish justice and the integrity of the Census, resulting in the strongest, most robust confidentiality laws on our books. I am confident that this breakdown would never happen again.  I support this effort by civil rights groups to monitor and protect our private data and confidentiality in the 2020 Census. I have faith in this effort. I understand its importance to me, our community and to the vitality of our diverse nation. I encourage you to fill out the 2020 Census.”

The plan includes working with groups currently operating hotlines to answer any questions about the Census and reporting any issues related to census operations or potential breaches.

Some groups in the coalition have previously challenged the Trump administration’s efforts to unlawfully add a question to the decennial count.

In May 2018, MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC sued the administration and, with others, successfully blocked it from adding a citizenship question to the Census.

The complete list of signatories can be found HERE and the pledge HERE.


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Election Day Must Remain on May 19th Declare Concerned Citizens and Voting Rights Advocates, Including GALEO



CONTACT: Adam Sweat, 678-951-2172


Election Day Must Remain on May 19th Declare Concerned Citizens and Voting Rights Advocates, Including GALEO


Friday, March 27, 2020 (Atlanta, GA) – Responding to House Speaker David Ralston’s request that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger move the May 19 election until at least June 23, ProGeorgia and its affiliates issued the following statement:


“On March 14, 2020, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made the wise decision to postpone voting in the March 24, 2020 presidential preference primary until May 19th in the interest of public health because of the emerging COVID-19 crisis.  Since that time, plans have been made by the Secretary of State and county election officials to move forward with the presidential preference primary, the local, county and Congressional primaries, and nonpartisan general elections on May 19th. In fact, vote by mail absentee ballots are already scheduled to be mailed out beginning on March 31 to voters who request them.


“We are unaware of any evidence establishing that the COVID-19 public health emergency will be over by June 23, 2020 or by any specific time frame this summer that would justify making yet another change in the election calendar. Delaying our primary again – or placing a moving target on elections – until this summer increases the risk that Georgia’s voters may not have their voices heard or their votes fully counted in enough time to participate in the Republican or Democratic National Conventions this summer.


“Moving the May 19th elections to June 23rd as suggested by Speaker Ralston should not be an option at this time because of the lack of evidence that the COVID-19 crisis will be resolved by that time and the substantial likelihood that another change in the election schedule will create confusion among voters and lead to reduced turnout.


 “Therefore, we are calling upon Secretary Raffensperger to proceed with the timely administration of our primary elections on May 19th and to ensure that integrity and transparency are maintained throughout this process.


About ProGeorgia

ProGeorgia is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. ProGeorgia supports and coordinates the civic engagement programs of our diverse partner organizations, and develops the infrastructure, executes the joint strategies, and employs new tools and technology to assure a government that is more responsive to the needs of our constituencies.


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