Jean was a part of LGBT and California state politics for more than 30 years. She was formerly a Deputy Mayor of San Francisco to Mayor Frank Jordan, chief of staff to Supervisor Harry Britt (who succeeded openly gay icon Harvey Milk), and a founder and former Executive Director of the California Alliance for Pride and Equality (now known as Equality California). She began her career in politics in 1971 as a field organizer for Senator George McGovern, and in later years served as chair of the Lesbian/Gay Caucus of the California Democratic Party. She is known for having helped elect more LGBT candidates to office. She also helped establish domestic partnerships in California and was a founding director of Basic Rights Oregon, who led the effort to defeat the anti-LGBT "Oregon Ballot Measure 9" in 2000.
Jim Carroll, the Equality California Interim Executive Director, said in a statement: “Jean was a tireless advocate for the LGBT community, and she will be terribly missed. Her colorful and indomitable spirit inspired generations of LGBT activists throughout the state and nation … Her legislative advocacy, grassroots organizing, and coalition building became the bedrock for the modern LGBT justice movement in California.” Jean was a native of Long Beach, and she spent most of her life in California.
Jean is survived by her partner Denise Penn, as well as their four children—Jake, Jann, Jill and Rachel—and their granddaughter Brooke. She is survived also by her mother, who just turned 90 years old; her brothers Roy and George; and her sister Linda. GLAAD mourns Jean's passing and wishes her family and friends well during this difficult time.