Tonight Santa Monica continues its push for greater equality, equity and humanity of its citizens. The Council has an item on the Consent Calendar to award $100,000 to the Santa Monica Black Lives Association to improve the wellbeing of black lives in the city. This is a progressive use of city funds and while $100,000 is not a small amount of money, it’s not a huge one either. But it’s a start in the right direction.

Our city has a history of making progress on cultural fronts and I like to see the Council actually doing something, anything, that helps our citizens and doesn’t involve allowing more density and growth and the “boring architectural boxes” that the “Celebrity Architects” are throwing up (an apt term!) on our streets.

To the end of addressing our citizen’s needs we have commissions and boards for Women (more on that later), Seniors, the Recreation and Parks, Arts, Library and the list goes on. These are ways for the citizens to partake in our government besides just going to Council meetings and voicing our concerns to the elected officials.

I have been told I should run for office – maybe be on the Council. Thank you, but no. I know my limits and honestly, I admire those who have the internal fortitude to sit through the hours of Council Meetings. Truly, I don’t have the patience for that. I’m too driven to action, and a “let’s get something done” attitude, for those meetings.

However, I do believe I should give back to the community and that’s why I looked at the Commissions and thought, “well, those meetings are not endless. They have a mission. They have a limited scope. So perhaps that would be good.” And I started to look at what opportunities were available on the boards and commissions. You can do this by going to the SMGOV.NET website and seeing what is available and where there are openings.

Of course my ego said ARTS! or Architecture. But it’s not a place where I have a skill or experience that would be beneficial. So then I saw the Commission on the Status of Women. I thought, now that’s interesting, there’s openings; I have experience with women in court, as both Petitioners and Respondents, as Protected Parties and as Perpetrators. I’m a big ole gay dude, so women open up to me. I have a lot of women in my life that I love and respect. Plus I do a lot of reading on social justice issues and, my detractors aside, I’m not a total idiot.

So I applied for the Commission on the Status of Women. (You can read it online as the applications are public). I know I’m a bit of a longshot, as a man, as a lawyer for men in court, but I thought maybe I have something to offer. The Commission is currently all women, and I believe that it has never had a man on it.

Turns out the Council is reviewing what Commissions to keep, maybe combine, and I’m hoping add one or two. I found this out when I asked the Council if they had read the Report put out by the COSW in 2019. I received responses from four of the councilmembers, three of whom had read the report, one hadn’t and I never got the courtesy of a response from the other councilmembers. Sidenote, this was one of the reasons why I always respected Kevin McKeown, he always responded to my emails, even when we disagreed.

While reading the report, available here as the 2019 CEDAW REPORT: https://www.smgov.net/Departments/CCS/content.aspx?id=31919. I noticed that there was a fair amount of overlap with the needs and treatment of the LGBTQI community in the report. That got me thinking that maybe what actually the city needs is a Diversity Commission. The more I thought about it, the MORE, I thought about it. I have asked in the past for a Men and Boy’s Commission (which is also going nowhere in our political climate – so I wont be serving there also) but for a city like Santa Monica to NOT have a Diversity Commission is a glaring, gaping, enormous hole in our credentials as a progressive city.

So with that being acknowledged, I’m asking the City Council to charter a Diversity Commission and I would like to be on it. I think it’s a fair request that we recognize the great variety in our city of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex individuals.

As a gay male lawyer who lives in a heteronormative society, I feel the discomfort of not always being a part of. I had this recognition the other day while I was enjoying a slice at Dagwoods Pizza on Wilshire. Sitting outside in the sunshine I saw an everyday event. A cute young couple walking down the street holding hands, leaning into each other and giggling in new love energy. It was adorable. And then it hit me. I rarely see a young gay or lesbian couple like that. Honestly I can’t recall the last time I did see it on our streets.

And that absence, the ‘not seeing it’ is why it’s hard for young, and old, LGBTQI people to feel comfortable. Can I walk down the Promenade holding a man’s hand? Sure, am I going to be hyperaware that I’m doing it? OH HECK YEAH. But I shouldn’t, and that’s why this city needs a Diversity Commission. To make it comfortable for all the city’s citizens to do a very normal thing every day. Not just in June. Not just a “Pride Month”, but every day.

So, here’s my hat, it’s in the ring. I’ll do the meetings. I’ll give it my best shot. Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play.

Let’s get a Diversity Commission going.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra