In a May 2022 Medium.com post addressed to her daughter, Butler sought to link the anti-abortion movement to larger attempts to infringe on Americans’ freedoms.
“The same politicians working to restrict the right to have control over our own bodies are the ones making it harder for people to vote, and they do this knowing that we cannot have the right to make decisions about our own bodies without our most fundamental right to vote,” she wrote. “And these are yet again, the same politicians who also don’t believe in science, who are attacking trans-youth and erasing the history of our country by banning books.
“With so much dishonesty in our world, it’s my dream of living in a world that protects you and all America’s daughters that fuels the fight in me. In these tough moments, one life lesson you should take and keep with you is that in order to keep certain freedoms, you must be willing to fight for them.”
The appointment of Butler, a lesbian, also brings significance due to her predecessor’s longtime ties to the state’s LGBTQ community.
Feinstein, who passed away at age 90 last Thursday, got her start in San Francisco politics on the city’s Board of Supervisors, eventually serving as mayor following the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and fellow Supervisor and gay rights icon Harvey Milk.
While she was generally more pro-LGBTQ — she voted against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and the U.S. military’s now-defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — Feinstein’s embrace of the LGBTQ community has been remembered as more of a gradual evolution over time, according to several LGBTQ advocates.
Kelley Robinson, the president of the Human Rights Campaign — who also began her career in the reproductive rights arena — praised Butler’s appointment, noting that she would be able to continue and build upon Feinstein’s “strong record of pro-LGBTQ+ support.”
“As the first Black lesbian to represent California in the United States Senate, Laphonza brings a compelling voice for abortion rights, the labor movement and civil rights into Congress,” Robinson said in a statement.
Equality California, the Golden State’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, also praised the appointment.
“This historic appointment by Governor Newsom will give our LGBTQ+ community another voice in Congress at a time when our rights and freedoms are under attack across the country,” Tony Haong, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.