Rich Vaughn, IFLG, Supports Gavin Newsom for CA Governor

Why I Support Gavin Newsom for California Governor

As a young gay professional back in the early 2000s, I can remember thinking it might be legal someday for me to marry my partner in my resident state of California, but I figured it would be a very long time coming. George W. Bush was in the White House; the country was embroiled in a heated presidential race and still reeling from the devastation of 9/11. The U.S. was mired in an increasingly chaotic Iraq conflict with no plan to win the peace.

Same-sex marriage was far from culturally accepted, even in liberal California. As the Los Angeles Times reported in a 2015 retrospective:

Prominent Democrats—including both of the state’s U.S. senators, from the Bay area—were opposed to gay marriage. National Democrats worried about the impact on the 2004 presidential nominee, John Kerry. (When Kerry lost, some blamed Newsom for stirring up the culture wars.)…

A Los Angeles Times poll taken two months after Newsom’s action showed that only 31% of Californians supported gay marriage, while 40% considered it morally wrong.

Remember, just a few years later, in 2008, California voters, following a demonizing and fear-based campaign, would pass the anti-marriage Proposition 8—leaving some 18,000 same-sex couples legally married, but denying the right to thousands of others who didn’t make it under the bar.

In the early 2000s, even in the LGBTQ community, the issue of same-sex marriage was controversial. The consensus of many of the “establishment” LGBTQ advocacy organizations and community leaders was that the time was not right to push the issue—the political will to change was lacking, they said. 

Then, on February 12, 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom instructed the city-county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, making the city the first in the nation to do so. Because same-sex marriage was illegal everywhere in the U.S., Newsom’s move shocked the nation and thrilled the LGBT community. Experienced advocates clucked that it would result in a backlash; Democrats said it would hurt Kerry’s presidential chances, as the L.A. Times reports. Court-watchers said it was too soon to bring the issue to the courts—public opinion was not up to speed. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued to end San Francisco's rebellion.

But for a frantic, heady month, until March 11, 2004, thousands of couples flocked to the historic San Francisco City Hall. Total strangers were enlisted as witnesses, brides and grooms lined up in tuxedos and gowns, supporters brought cakes and flowers. Scene after scene of elation filled the nightly news. Perhaps as never before, America witnessed what marriage equality was and how much it meant to thousands of their fellow citizens, who—surprise, surprise—didn’t look or act all that much different from themselves and their own loved ones. By the time the California Supreme Court shut it down on March 11, some 4,000 marriage licenses had been issued to same-sex couples; in August 2004, all were ruled invalid.

Later, following the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States, Newsom would admit that the criticism, particularly from his own party, had wounded him. But even when the blame for Kerry’s loss to 43 was cast at Newsom's feet, he never demurred; he said and continues to say that he did what he believed was right. As he told Mother Jones in its 2015 report:

“I can assure you people would have said the same thing back in 2006, when we were trying to take back the House. People would have said, 'Hold on, now. More vulnerability, and with all these swing counties across the country, this is the last thing we need now. Young man, just hold on.' And then of course, in 2008, they would say, 'Wait a second, we’ve got to win the White House. This is not the right time!' Only to go back to 2010: 'We’ve got a midterm! And this is a wedge issue. Public opinion is not there yet.' And then of course, miraculously, in 2012, public opinion began to change. Well, it wouldn’t have changed if folks had not pushed the issue.”

While it’s difficult to quantify exactly what impact Newsom’s eloquent gesture had on the movement for marriage equality, we know that in our system of representative democracy, sometimes radical action is needed to spur moderate change. Newsom's action and the resulting court case led to the 2008 In re Marriage Cases ruling by the California Supreme Court, which legalized same-sex marriage in California.

Newsom himself says the “unsung heroes” of the marriage equality movement are the LGBT people who took the risk of showing their neighbors who they are. “It’s the millions—I mean, literally millions—of conversations that were held and won on this topic that changed it,” Newsom told Mother Jones in 2015. “Debates, screaming matches amongst family members, emotional engagement between generations, talking about this issue, putting a human face on this issue, reminding people that this is about our barber, this is about the butcher.... At the end of the day I don’t think it was more complicated than that.”

As the images of rejoicing, loving same-sex couples became more familiar to millions of Americans, and as those couples' stories were told, so public opinion evolved. As of May 2013, 58 percent of Californians approved of gay marriage, including more than a quarter of conservatives and 35 percent of Republicans, the LA Times reported.

Just 36 and little-known then outside of the Bay Area, Newsom bucked his party leadership and staked his career on his determination to seek equality for LGBT people—because he believed it was the right thing to do. “The one thing that connects every single one of us regardless of our station in life and our backgrounds is the desire to be loved and to love,” Newsom told the L.A. Times. “For that to be denied because of a quirk of fate, because you happen to love someone of the same sex, is wrong.”

In taking a stand for marriage equality, even in the face of criticism from his staunchest supporters, Newsom showed us he has the courage of his convictions. Particularly at this time, when our community’s, our state’s and our nation’s most cherished values are under attack, it is important to support leaders who will do what they know is right, even when it is not popular. Newsom’s stand on marriage equality was called contrarian, ahead of the curve, yet he stood his ground, even in the face of opposition from his own party leadership—not to gain more Twitter followers, but because he believed it was the right thing to do. In doing so he modeled the kind of strong, decisive leadership California and the United States need so badly today. That is why I support Gavin Newson for California Governor.

That’s why I’m honored to serve as one of the honorary hosts for a fundraising reception Monday, June 26, at the home of my colleague Michael Kraut and Dan McCarty in support of Gavin Newsom for Governor 2018. If you will be in the L.A. area, please join Michael and Dan, along with co-hosts Alyssa Milano, Wendy Segall, Lisa Daruty, David Cooley, Bash Kazi, my spouse, Tommy Woelfel, and me for what promises to be a fun and historic occasion. You may RSVP by contributing online at,  or contact Katie at (213) 293-5852 or Click for more event information and a downloadable flyer: Donations are payable to Newsom for California – Governor 2018 (FPPC ID#1375287). 


Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.