Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Sparks rules out third term as police panel prez

Theresa Sparks, the transgender woman who has served two terms as president of the city’s police commission, has ruled out running for a third term.

When she first won the coveted seat by one vote back in 2007, Sparks became the first transgender person to head a city oversight panel. But her ascension led to the resignation of outgoing president Louise Renne, a former city attorney and supervisor.

It also caused political fallout for Commissioner Joe Veronese, who bucked Mayor Gavin Newsom, the person who appointed him, by casting the deciding vote for Sparks. He in turn was not re-appointed by the mayor and saw his bid last year for a state Senate seat fail.

In an e-mail to the Bay Area Reporter, Sparks said when she sought the presidency for a second term last year she committed then that it would be her last time to lead the panel, which oversees the San Francisco Police Department.

The commission, she wrote in response to questions, “needs fresh leadership. Ideas become stale, much like visiting relatives and fish.”

With the commission and mayor poised to hire a new police chief to replace Heather Fong, who is set to retire this summer, Sparks said the timing was right for new leadership of the police panel. Plus, Sparks is unemployed and has applied for several positions out-of-state.

While she plans to remain a member of the commission, her term does not end until 2011, Sparks said she feels she has accomplished the goals she set for her presidency.

“I have completed my original objectives, articulated a vision and set a fresh, new tone for the commission,” she wrote.

The commission will elect its new president in June, and it is expected that Joe Marshall, who lost to Sparks back in 2007, will be elected to the seat.

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 28, 2009 @ 4:13 pm PST
Filed under: News

Prop 8 decision coming Tuesday

The California Supreme Court will issue its decision on the validity of Proposition 8 Tuesday, May 26 at 10 a.m.

The court posted a notice on its Web site Friday stating that the decision in the same-sex marriage cases would be issued Tuesday.

The long-awaited decision has gay rights advocates anxiously anticipating the ruling, and to determine future action should the court uphold Prop 8, which eliminated the right for same-sex couples to marry. After the court’s landmark ruling last May 15 striking down Prop 22, same-sex marriages took place throughout the state until November 4, when voters approved Prop 8. An estimated 18,000 same-sex couples tied the knot in the five months such marriages were legal.

Following oral arguments March 5, court observers widely expect the justices will rule Tuesday that those marriages will remain valid; most of the speculation has been on whether the justices will uphold Prop 8.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported earlier this month, two statewide groups are gearing up for a return to the ballot box in an effort to repeal Prop 8 should the court uphold it. Those groups, Equality California and the Courage Campaign, are also part of a larger coalition that is conducting a statewide poll to gauge peoples’ attitudes on same-sex marriage.

Locally, there are events Monday night and Tuesday morning. On Monday night, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., a prayer service will be held at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street in San Francisco. The evening of songs and meditation will center on peace, healing, and understanding. Families are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday morning, from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m., a service and blessing will be held at St. Francis Lutheran Church, 152 Church Street (across from Safeway). Equality California’s Andrea Shorter said that the Bay Area community is invited to attend the service, which will feature music, words from community leaders, testimonies from married couples, and blessings for those who will be participating in protests or rallies. People will then march in a procession from the church to Civic Center Plaza, which is across the street from the Supreme Court building.

There are also actions planned for Tuesday night. For details, go to

In Fresno, LGBTs and allies will hold a rally on Saturday, May 30. Dubbed “Meet in the Middle 4 Equality,” the event takes place at 1 p.m. in front of Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street. Other activities are also planned over the weekend and more information is available at

The B.A.R. will have full coverage of the court ruling online at and in next week’s issue.

— Cynthia Laird, May 22, 2009 @ 10:06 am PST
Filed under: News,Uncategorized

Choi to help lead Pride Parade

U.S. Army Lieutenant Dan Choi, who is being discharged under the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, will be a celebrity grand marshal in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade Sunday, June 28.

Brendan Behan, deputy executive director of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, confirmed to the Bay Area Reporter that Choi will be riding in the parade. Behan said that Choi will be part of the Knights Out contingent. The group of West Point alumni recently came out as gay. Choi came out on national television in March, knowing the move could result in discharge proceedings being lodged against him.

Choi is one of two known gay service members who are being discharged since President Obama took office. The other, Army officer Sandy Tsao, recently wrote to the president, asking him to keep his campaign promise to repeal the military ban. Tsao did receive a handwritten note from the president, which indicated he intended to fulfill his promise to end DADT, but she was set to be discharged this week.

DADT prohibits lesbian and gay service members from serving openly in the armed forces.

— Cynthia Laird, May 18, 2009 @ 9:55 am PST
Filed under: News,Uncategorized

Milk Day bill clears Senate

Just a few days shy of what would have been Harvey Milk’s 79th birthday, the state Senate on Thursday, May 14 passed legislation that creates Harvey Milk Day in California in honor of the state’s first openly gay elected official.

SB 572, authored by state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), cleared the Senate with a 24-14 bipartisan vote. The bill designates May 22, Milk’s birthday, as a day of special significance in California. It would not be a paid holiday.

“Harvey Milk is an inspiration to Californians who believe in fairness and equality,” Leno said in a statement. “He fought for many of the issues we value today, including access to education, public transportation, affordable housing, and the environment. Harvey Milk gave his life for what he believed in.”

Milk, who represented the Castro while on the board, was assassinated along with then-Mayor George Moscone by ex-Supervisor Dan White in November 1978. The City Hall killings shocked the city. Next week, May 21, is the 30th anniversary of the White Night riots, when people angrily took to the streets after a jury convicted White of manslaughter instead of murder.

SB 572 is sponsored by Equality California and co-authored by 22 members of the Legislature, including out lawmakers Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), and Assemblymen Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and John Perez (D-Los Angeles).

The bill now goes to the Assembly, where it will be heard in committee.

— Cynthia Laird, May 14, 2009 @ 3:26 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

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