Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 49 / 7 December 2017
 

Prop 8 2010 repeal backers have ‘app’ for signatures

Restore Equality 2010, the campaign working to repeal Prop 8 in November, is now collecting digital signatures to try to get their measure on the ballot.

Using an application developed by Verafirma, a Silicon Valley technology company, California voters can now sign the petition via an iPhone or iPod Touch. Registered California voters can access the digital signature tool and instructional video.

The initiative needs 694,354 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The last day for proponents to file petitions with county elections officials is April 16.

Prop 8, passed by California voters in November 2008, amended the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The repeal campaign hasn’t publicly revealed exactly how many signatures they’ve collected, but a March 16 statement announcing the digital application said “hundreds of thousands of Californians” have signed paper forms.

“California is known for being a state that leads change,” Sean Bohac, of Restore Equality 2010, said in the statement. “Our team looks forward to using this revolutionary technology to augment our grassroots efforts and change the way campaigns are run.”

With the application, voters can use their finger to sign the official petition. An electronic copy is sent to the signer and Restore Equality 2010.

The secretary of state’s office didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the method is valid.

California voters without access to an iPhone or iPod Touch can still print out their own petition, sign it, and mail it in by accessing www.signforequality.com.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 26, 2010 @ 5:01 pm PST
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City approves permits for Folsom fetish fairs

City officials today (Thursday, March 25) approved permits for two of San Francisco’s more notorious street events. The decision to grant permits to both the Up Your Alley Fair and Folsom Street Fair, which both cater to the leather and S/M crowd, came without the controversy last year that derailed what had been a fairly routine process.

Police blindsided organizers of the fairs last spring with complaints that officers assigned to patrol the 2008 events had been hit with citizen complaints for allowing sex to occur in public. The revelation at what is known as ISCOTT, which stands for the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation, threw into doubt the future of the two fetish events.

The oversight panel postponed approval of the 2009 permits for both fairs until after organizers could address the police concerns. The negotiations resulted in a stronger anti-lewd-behavior policy the fairs adopted, which warned attendees they would be ejected from the fairgrounds for engaging in public sex.

While the compromise upset some longtime attendees of the fair, it allayed police concerns and ISCOTT granted the permits. Last year’s events generated little trouble amongst fair-goers; the only incidents of note occurred with anti-gay protesters stationed at one of the entrances to the Folsom Street Fair.

Unsure of what reception the fairs would receive at this year’s ISCOTT hearing, Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis came armed with close to a dozen supporters. He told the panel that the plans put into place last year had worked.

“We worked with the SFPD on a new security plan. It was a success based on the expectations of the SFPD,” he said.

One area of concern raised last year had to do with guests at private parties in the upper stories of buildings lining Folsom Street who would ejaculate out the windows or put on sex acts. To address the behavior, Moshoyannis said he contacted the building manager for the apartment complex known to cause most of the incidents so the person could alert residents to the fair’s harsher sex policy.

“He issued a letter to all residents to notify them they needed to make sure it doesn’t happen. We didn’t have a problem with that building,” said Moshoyannis.

This year the police raised no objections to granting the fair permits, and apart from a health department staffer who questioned the fairs’ food preparation and cleanup policies, no one spoke out against granting the permits. Local blogger and gay activist Michael Petrelis did suggest the fair create a “sex tent” so that consensual oral sex could take place between adults.

“We are talking about thousands of people from around the world who come to San Francisco for S-E-X. Let’s be mature about it,” Petrelis said at the hearing.

ISCOTT members, however, said nothing about allowing a sex tent. And the panel did not fall for the stalling tactics of one Dore Alley resident who for years has been a thorn in the side of Folsom Street Events, the nonprofit group which oversees both street festivals.

Jakkee Bryson has long opposed both fairs and has a reputation for knowing how to manipulate the city’s permit approval process.

One strategy she often uses is to claim she can not attend a hearing and requests a postponement. And at 8:30 a.m. this morning she contacted an ISCOTT staffer and made such a request.

But the ISCOTT panel denied the delay and unanimously granted both fairs’ permits.

The Up Your Alley Fair, commonly known as the Dore Alley Fair, takes place Sunday, July 25 this year. The Folsom Street Fair takes place Sunday, September 26.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 25, 2010 @ 11:31 am PST
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Proposed loan for SF LGBT Center moves ahead

A proposal to loan San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center $157,500 to help with its mortgage passed the Board of Supervisors budget and finance committee today by a vote of 2-1.

The resolution, sponsored by openly gay supervisors Bevan Dufty (pictured at right) and David Campos, is expected to go before the full board for its first vote Tuesday, March 30. Dufty and Campos aren’t on the committee but were present at today’s meeting.

Supervisor John Avalos, who chairs the committee, and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi favored the resolution. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd voted against it.

The center is working with First Republic Bank to modify the terms of its loan related to the outstanding costs from the construction of the center’s building years ago.

As part of the loan agreement, the center needs to keep $157,500 in an account with First Republic.

The city-provided money would only be drawn upon if the center were not able to make its loan payment, Dufty said in a March 18 Guest Opinion piece in the Bay Area Reporter. The center had not missed a payment until the agreement to restructure, Dufty noted.

Rebecca Rolfe, the center’s executive director, told the B.A.R. in early February that the original loan amount was $3.2 million. Of that amount, $3,150,000 remained to be paid. The loan, which was put into place in 2009, consolidated all the center’s construction-related debt. The center opened its doors in March 2002.

The loan from the city will be repaid starting in 2015, and that has to be paid back by 2020.

Rolfe has said the restructuring is “not an emergency,” but part of a two-year strategic effort that has also included $300,000 being cut from the center’s budget, through staff reductions and other means. The center’s budget for 2009-10 is $1.85 million.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 24, 2010 @ 1:45 pm PST
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Gay former Dutch MP calls U.S. fight over gay soldiers “weird”

During a recent appearance in San Francisco gay former Dutch Member of Parliament Boris O. Dittrich told the Bay Area Reporter that for many people in the Netherlands, which has allowed gay soldiers to serve openly for years, the current fight over the subject in the United States “is really weird.”

Dittrich sat down with the B.A.R. Tuesday, March 16 prior to his speech before the Commonwealth Club’s LGBT member-led forum. In the wide-ranging interview, much of which was published in Thursday’s paper, one subject that didn’t make it into the printed story was his thoughts on gays in the military.

He said for the last four years out LGBT Dutch soldiers have served alongside American military personnel in Afghanistan where they oversee peace-keeping and rebuilding projects in Uruzgan province. The nearly 2,000-member Dutch contingent is expected to be withdrawn this August.

“Dutch gay soldiers have been working jointly with the U.S. military and American soldiers,” said Dittrich, who ended his political career three years ago and now heads up Human Rights Watch’s LGBT advocacy program from New York. “There has never been an instance where the U.S. military wouldn’t work with Dutch soldiers because some are gay. It has never been an issue.”

Dittrich’s comments came two days prior to testimony former NATO Supreme Allied Commander John Sheehan gave at a U.S. congressional hearing on doing away with the U.S. military’s ban on out gay soldiers Thursday, March 18 where he claimed there was a causal link between having homosexuals in the Dutch forces and the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian war.

Sheehan’s statements have infuriated Dutch leaders, with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende calling the remarks “outrageous, wrong and beneath contempt” at a news conference he held today (Friday, March 19).

Coming prior to the controversy, Dittrich’s responses now seem prescient. He had told the B.A.R. that the argument over keeping the anti-gay U.S. policy, known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” not only seems ridiculous to people in his home country but also is negatively impacting U.S. forces on the ground overseas because highly valued and well-trained LGBT soldiers are being unnecessarily hounded out of the armed services.

“The discussion in the U.S. continues to be far-fetched and not convincing at all,” he said. “It is counterproductive and puts American soldiers’ lives at risk.”

During his public talk Dittrich said that when he served in the Dutch parliament he visited his country’s military personnel deployed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Once again he expressed puzzlement at the debate over DADT taking place in America.

“It is no problem to be gay or lesbian in the Dutch military. Nobody talks about it. One does their work and are fighting the Taliban,” he said. “Here in the U.S. I don’t see what the issue is. The discussion in the U.S. is quite symbolic. I really hope as soon as possible the U.S. will repeal DADT.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 19, 2010 @ 1:14 pm PST
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U.S. housing agency seeks Web input on LGBT study

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today launched a new Web site so people can comment on the design of an unprecedented national study that will examine housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

HUD recently hosted town hall meetings in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City to solicit feedback on how it might approach such ground-breaking research.  This ‘online suggestion box ‘ is intended to offer the public throughout the U.S. an opportunity to comment on HUD’s study.

“It is critical that as we embark on this historic discrimination study, that we hear from those who may have been denied housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Raphael Bostic (pictured at right), HUD’s openly gay assistant secretary for policy development and research, said in a statement. “The comments we received in our town hall meetings, and those we will gather from this new website, will help inform how we might test for housing discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on LBGT status.”

While there are no national assessments of LGBT housing discrimination, there are state and local studies that have shown this sort of bias.  For example, Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers found that nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home.

HUD’s new LGBT Web site will seek suggestions on how best to execute the study. For example, how would a ‘tester’ signal in a conversation with a landlord that an individual or couple was LGBT?

The Web site is not designed for users to lodge complaints about a particular incident.  However, anyone who believe they have been a victim of housing discrimination may file an online complaint, or call HUD’s Housing Discrimination Hotline at (800) 669-9777.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 17, 2010 @ 4:06 pm PST
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SF Chronicle columnist “ins” Oakland councilwoman

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson, who covers the East Bay political scene in his twice weekly columns, turned his attention today to Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. As the Bay Area Reporter reported last month, Kaplan is mulling a run for mayor of her hometown.

The praiseworthy piece – Johnson has long been impressed with the freshman councilwoman and had predicted in 2008 she would be a viable candidate for mayor – notes how Kaplan has bucked conventional wisdom on the council and has been the lone voice questioning several large-scale development projects like the Oakland Airport BART connector. Yet at the same time Kaplan has not ruffled the feathers of her colleagues, something almost unheard of on the Oakland City Council wrote Johnson.

And while he informs readers about Kaplan’s (seen in photo at left) Jewish faith and her academic credentials, Johnson failed to mention a key fact about Kaplan’s background. Not only is she an out lesbian who was able to win the council’s at-large seat, she is the only out elected official in Oakland.

In a paper that just went out of its way to out Judge Vaughn Walker, who is presiding over the federal trial questioning the constitutionality of California’s same-sex marriage ban Proposition 8, the omission in Johnson’s column of Kaplan’s sexual orientation was not only glaringly noticeable but curious.

In response to a question from the B.A.R., Johnson said he did not intend to “in” Kaplan. In a January column he wrote critical of LGBT opposition to the reappointment of an Oakland city board member who gave to the Prop 8 campaign Johnson did identify Kaplan as a lesbian.

As for this week’s column ignoring that fact, Johnson wrote in an email that, “It was an oversight. my bad D’oh!!”

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 12, 2010 @ 2:48 pm PST
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Gay Assembly Speaker John A. Perez backs SF Mayor Gavin Newsom for Lt Gov

The announcement today that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is indeed running for lieutenant governor of California is hardly a surprise. It has been clear for weeks that the termed-out Newsom, whose bid to run for governor flamed out last year, was eyeing the mainly ceremonial role.

The surprise in Newsom’s confirmation of his latest electoral campaign comes by way of the mayor noting he has lined up backing from none other than openly gay state Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), seen in the above photo at right with Newsom, in the race.

In his letter to supporters, Newsom wrote that, “I’m proud that I have the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate President Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John Perez, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, United Farm Workers co-founder Delores Huerta and California Nurses and teachers and I hope I can count on your support too.”

Newsom’s biggest opponent in the June Democratic Primary is Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, seen at left. Not only has Hahn hired political consultant Garry South, who briefly worked on Newsom’s failed gubernatorial bid, but just yesterday she announced that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was supporting her in the race.

That puts Villaraigosa and Perez, cousins who are normally allies politically, in opposing camps in the lieutenant governor’s race. In a statement issued by Hahn’s campaign, Villaraigosa said he knows “first hand” that the councilwoman is ready to serve in a statewide office.

“I know first hand that Janice Hahn is ready to lead California as our next lieutenant governor,” stated Villaraigosa, whose one-time ambition of also running for governor died last year due to his own problems governing Los Angeles. “Janice Hahn knows what it will take to get the job done and fight for all Californians. I have worked side-by-side with Janice fighting gang violence, greening and growing the Port of Los Angeles and creating jobs for Angelenos. There is no doubt, that Janice Hahn is the tough, strong leader California needs as their next lieutenant governor.”

Newsom has been criticized by local business leaders for his decision to run for the state office and, should he win, leave it up to the progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors to vote in his replacement. Newsom has reportedly been told he could delay his swearing-in in January of 2010 long enough so that the winners of this fall’s supervisor races are sworn into their seats and allowed to pick the next mayor.

Should Newsom indeed be the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor it will put enormous pressure on moderates to win back a majority of supervisor seats in order to avoid seeing a Mayor Aaron Peskin, former board president who now chairs the local Democratic Party, or former Supervisor Angela Alioto, whose attempt to be mayor in 2003 failed at the ballot box and is said to now be angling for an appointment to the job.

Other potential candidates looking to run for mayor include former Mayor Art Agnos; State Senators Leland Yee and Mark Leno, one of two gay men in the California Senate; City Attorney Dennis Herrera; and current Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.

And it could cause trouble for openly gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is termed out this year and is the only declared candidate for mayor. He faces the likelihood of having to challenge a sitting mayor in the 2011 race.

As for Newsom, he said in his letter to supporters that he “didn’t come to this decision easily” to seek the statewide office. But he wrote that “after a great deal of consultation with my family, constituents and supporters, I believe that the best way for me to serve is by taking all of the many things that are right about California and applying them to fixing what’s wrong in Sacramento.”

With his onetime campaign strategist South already pummeling Newsom with press releases and videos of his repeated statements he would not run for lieutenant governor and didn’t know what the job entailed, the match-up between Hahn and Newsom is sure to be one of the most watched and nasty political fights in the June primary.

As South stated in February, “If the Mayor does run, it is his responsibility to explain why he now claims to want an elected office he summarily dismissed publicly numerous times over the last several months, and which just earlier this year he called “a largely ceremonial post” … “with no real authority and no real portfolio.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:46 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Out TV political reporter Hank Plante to retire

CBS 5 political editor Hank Plante will be retiring at the end of March, having worked the last 25 years for the local TV news station. The openly gay Plante plans to retire to Palm Springs where he owns a home with his husband, artist Roger Groth.

The award-winning journalist told the Bay Area Reporter Thursday, March 11 he had decided to accept a buy-out offer from the station. Rumors had circulated since late last year that Plante intended to retire, but he said his original plan was to remain on the job through the fall elections.

The recent offer, though, was too good to pass up, said the 63-year-old Plante.

“It is an exciting opportunity,” said Plante, who was named the Associated Press reporter of the year in 2009 in the broadcast category for the West Coast region.

The B.A.R. profiled Plante in 2006 when he was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle by the San Francisco/Northern California Chapter. The honor is the equivalent of a TV hall of fame. When asked then if he had plans to retire to the gay resort town in the Coachella Valley, Plante wasn’t quit ready to put down his TV microphone.

“We talk about settling in there but after three days I would start talking to the cactus,” he quipped a the time. “I can never imagine not working. Maybe not at this pace; it is a lot of work.”

Check out next week’s Political Notebook in the B.A.R. to find out just what Plante plans to do in his golden years.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 11, 2010 @ 6:05 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Nadler proposal would protect LGBTs in U.S. housing law

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York, pictured at left) introduced an amendment today that would include sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal Fair Housing Act. The law prohibits discrimination in the sale and rental of housing.

The move comes as the Housing and Urban Development department is preparing an unprecedented study on discrimination against LGBTs.

The agency held a town hall at San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center on March 1 where dozens of people voiced their concerns about local issues related to housing discrimination, including bias against people with HIV/AIDS and the lack of affordable housing.

Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, held a hearing today that examined Fair Housing Act education, investigation and enforcement.

“Jim Crow laws and restrictive covenants may no longer be with us, but the discriminatory attitudes and practices they represented remain,” Nadler said in a statement. “… [S]hamefully, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are perfectly legal in many areas, and people are regularly denied a place to live simply because of that status.”

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D – MI) joined Nadler in introducing the bill, H.R. 4820. The federal act already prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, and other categories.

Today’s testimony focused on the findings of recent reports by the National Fair Housing Alliance, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, as well as recent court settlements.

Rea Carey, executive director of the NGLTF, was among the witnesses.

“For us, the pursuit of the American dream, including home ownership, is a risky proposition,” Carey testified, according to NGLTF. “When our sexual orientation or gender identity is known, either because we offer it willingly or a landlord, realtor or lender is made aware by other means, there is potential for outright hostility, property damage and even physical violence.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:37 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF supes committee endorses Castro gay history project

Isak Lindenauer, left, and Allan Baird display a mock-up for the proposed Rainbow Honor Walk plaques to be installed on Castro sidewalks. Photo by Rick Gerharter

The Board of Supervisors’ City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee is expected to vote Monday, March 8 on a project that would create a walk of fame for LGBT historical figures in the Castro district.

[UPDATE: The committee unanimously passed the proposal, which still needs to be voted on by the city’s arts commission and the full Board of Supervisors.]

Dubbed the Rainbow Honor Walk, the project envisions laying rainbow-colored plaques inscribed with the names of famous LGBT figures with some connection to the city’s gayborhood or LGBT community into the sidewalks on Castro and Market Streets as well as several side streets.

The project is the brainchild of storeowner Isak Lindenauer, who has been pushing for approval of the gay stepping stones to history since March of last year, when the Bay Area Reporter first wrote about the project. Since then he has convinced both the Castro merchants group and community benefit district to back the project and has teamed up with David Perry, a Castro resident who owns his own PR firm.

“We want to show the richness and diversity of LGBT people by placing their names on plaques in the sidewalks of the Castro community. We hope to educate and bring pride, as well as added commerce, to our streets,” write Lindenauer and Perry in a prospectus explaining their idea.

Since the city has also signed on to the project, which has the backing of District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty, is is expected to win approval. The final costs for buying and installing the plaques has yet to be raised, and there is no clear timeline for when the first one – expected to bear the name of gay icon the late Supervisor Harvey Milk – would be installed.

The project backers intend to seek the public’s input on which figures in LGBT history to include. The plan is to roll out the plaques in groups, with the first 20 to go in on both sides of Castro Street, followed by another 10 along 19th Street in front of the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.

Another set of plaques, anywhere from 10 to 20, would be installed on 18th Street, with a final batch of up to 20 on Market Street.

For more info, email raiinbowhonorwalk@gmail.com.

The meeting takes place at 10:30 a.m. Monday, March 8 at Room 250 inside City Hall.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 5, 2010 @ 4:45 pm PST
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