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Mark Leno

Mark Leno is an American politician and champion for the LGBTQ+ community. 

The grandson of Russian Jewish immigrants, Leno spent two years in rabbinical school in New York before realizing it wasn’t the right fit and dropped out. At his sister’s urging, he moved to San Francisco in 1977.

Leno launched a small business and joined the Golden Gate Business Association, the first Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in the country. As the AIDS epidemic reached a crisis, Leno became an active volunteer and fundraiser for LGBTQ+ causes. Mayor Willie Brown appointed Leno to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1998, where he served until 2002. As a supervisor, Leno advocated for the rights of tenants, transgender people, and low-income residents. He also supported legislation to protect neighborhood businesses from big-box retail.

Leno was elected to the California State Assembly in 2002, then re-elected in 2004 and 2006. During that time, Leno introduced two bills that would legalize same-sex marriage. Both bills passed both the Assembly and Senate, but were vetoed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the state Senate, where he served from 2008 to 2016, Leno was a principal co-author of the Single-Payer Universal Health Care Act, which would have provided health care coverage for all Californians.

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