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

Obama issues gay Pride proclamation

President Barack Obama issued an LGBT Pride proclamation on Friday afternoon, just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of Pride Month in June.

In the proclamation, Obama said, “An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.”

“This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.”

Obama noted that LGBTs are serving “at every level” of his administration, and, thanked “those who came before us – the brave men and women who marched, stood up to injustice, and brought change through acts of compassion or defiance.”

“We have made enormous progress and continue to strive for a more perfect union,” he added.

The two-page proclamation also mentions the president’s commitment to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly. “… I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal,” he stated.

On Thursday, May 27, the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee each passed an amendment that would begin the process of dismantling DADT. That amendment, a compromise worked out during meetings at the White House on Monday, clears the way for repeal of DADT after the Pentagon Working Group established by Defense Secretary Robert Gates completes its report on December 1. After that report is completed, other items need to be done, including certification by the president, defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the military has prepared the necessary regulations and policies to exercise repeal.

The full Senate must still vote on the amendment, and it is likely the House will have to vote again once the measure passes in the Senate. DADT remains in effect.

In his proclamation, Obama also cited some of the administration’s accomplishments that benefit the LGBT community. Those include his signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; renewing the Ryan White CARE Act to provide services for those living with HIV/AIDS; and signing a presidential memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions.

Obama also referenced the Defense of Marriage Act and stated that it must be repealed, and of ending employment discrimination.

“We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination agaisnt LGBT Americans, and ensuring federal employees receive equal benefits,” the president stated.

Obama ended the proclamation by calling on all Americans to observe the month of June “by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.”

— Cynthia Laird, May 28, 2010 @ 4:00 pm PST
Filed under: News

House passes DADT amendment

The House of Representatives on Thursday evening, passed the amendment by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) to begin dismantling of the military’s anti-gay ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The final vote was 234-194, largely along party lines, with five Republicans voting for the amendment.

Earlier Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to pass a similiar amendment. The compromise, worked out Monday, calls for repeal of DADT after the Pentagon’s December 1 report is completed and several steps are met, including satisfying that repeal won’t affect unit cohesion.

Currently, DADT remains in effect, noted the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

— Cynthia Laird, May 27, 2010 @ 7:08 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Senate panel passes DADT amendment

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 Thursday afternoon to approve an amendment to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

A minimum of 15 votes was needed. The full House is expected to vote on the same amendment later this evening.

The amendment lays out a path to repeal DADT, but actual repeal would not come until after a Defense Department report is completed, which is expected December 1.

“The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a historic roadmap to allowing open military service, but it doesn’t end te discharges,” said Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “Congress and the Pentagon need to stay on track to get repeal finalized, hopefully no later than first quarter 2011.”

Sarvis cautioned that gays and lesbians serving in the military remain at risk for discharges and cannot serve openly now.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 4:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Dufty endorses Sparks in D6 Supe race

San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty is endorsing Theresa Sparks in her bid to represent District 6, Sparks’s campaign announced today [Thursday, May 27].

“I am so grateful for Bevan’s endorsement, his support and, most importantly, his friendship,” said Sparks (pictured at right), who’s trangender and currently serves as executive director of the city’s Human Rights Commission. “We look forward to having him as part of our growing campaign for District 6 Supervisor.”

Sparks is running against more than 20 other candidates to replace termed out Supervisor Chris Daly in November. District 6 includes the South of Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods.

According to Sparks’s campaign, Dufty, who’s gay and running for mayor,  cited her “many years of leadership, experience and history of public service” in making his endorsement .and he “believes that these qualities, along with her ability to build consensus on key issues, will be welcome additions to the Board of Supervisors.”

In Sparks’s announcement, Dufty stated, “Few people bring the experience of leading a major city department to the Board of Supervisors. Through her leadership of the Human Rights Commission, Theresa has demonstrated the skills directly relevant to District 6; meeting diverse needs, expanding small business, growing new jobs, and ensuring a vibrant community.”

Openly gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Stuart Milk, nephew of slain gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, have also endorsed Sparks.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF supervisors approve AZ boycott

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a resolution 10 to 1 on Tuesday, May 11 calling for a boycott of Arizona and Arizona-based businesses.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd voted against the resolution, which was introduced by openly gay Supervisor David Campos (pictured at right) on April 27 in response to Arizona’s controversial immigration law. Governor Jan Brewer signed the law in April.

Among other provisions, the Arizona legislation encourages law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally. Known as the “papers, please” law, it effectively requires legal immigrants to carry papers wherever they go in order to avoid arrest and detention. Critics of the bill said that it would result in racial profiling of Hispanic residents of the state.

Since Brewer signed the bill, Arizona lawmakers have revised the law, specifying that police may only question someone’s immigration status if they have already been stopped for a different reason.

The San Francisco resolution, which only “urges” city departments not to do business with the state if that is practical, says the Arizona law “will inevitably lead to racial profiling of people of color and limited English proficient persons.”

Elsbernd told the Bay Area Reporter last week he opposed the Arizona law, but he planned to vote against the resolution because he was concerned about unintended consequences the boycott could have.

For example, he expressed concern for employees of Arizona companies who could lose their jobs if San Francisco terminates contracts with companies based in the state.

Elsbernd also pointed to San Francisco’s dependence on tourism dollars, and said a boycott threatens the city’s ability to “turn the corner ” economically. He worried people in other parts of the country could engage in “retaliatory acts” such as not traveling to the city.

“Not that [hurting the city’s economy] is the intention, but why would we take that risk for a boycott that may not necessarily work?” said Elsbernd.

Joe D’Alessandro, the openly gay president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, has expressed similar concerns about the boycott.

This is a situation “where people are frustrated with a law passed by elected officials in Arizona” and a boycott just targets “working people that had nothing to do with enacting those laws,” he said last week.

D’Alessandro said after the passage of Prop 8 his agency got a lot of e-mails from people in places ranging from Massachusetts to Europe saying they weren’t coming to California because of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

He recalled telling people, “You’re going to hurt the people you’re trying to help.”

D’Alessandro said his agency’s had about 200 e-mails from people wanting to cancel their trips to San Francisco if the city goes through with the boycott.

“The best thing for people to do would be to go to Arizona and try to talk to people on why this law is wrong, and I firmly believe it’s wrong,” said D’Alessandro.

Asked about the concerns over his resolution, Campos said, “Whatever negative consequences there are … will be minimal” in the end.

Campos noted other cities, including Oakland, have passed boycotts related to the Arizona law.

He also said, “The same argument as to why we shouldn’t do something has been applied to an number of things.”

For example, Campos referred to city’s Equal Benefits Ordinance, which requires city contractors to provide the same benefits to their employees with spouses and their employees with domestic partners.

He noted there had been fears of the ordinance causing a “backlash” but said, “In the end, none of that materialized, and we proceeded because with domestic partner benefits, it was the right thing to do. I think we should not be afraid to stand up for what is right.”

As to the changes made to the Arizona law, Campos said, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

The law still “opens the door for racial profiling” and the amendments don’t really change the “fundamental problems with the law,” said Campos.

If anything, he said, the changes are “recognition of the fact that they are getting a lot of pressure, and they feel themselves isolated.”

Among other provisions, the San Francisco resolution says that unless Arizona rescinds SB 1070, the board urges city departments “to the extent practicable, and in instances where there is no significant additional cost to the city nor conflict with the law, to refrain from entering into any new or amended contracts to purchase goods or services from any company that is headquartered in Arizona.”

In an e-mail to the B.A.R. shortly after Brewer signed the bill, Paul Senseman, her deputy chief of staff-communications, wrote that if San Francisco supervisors “believe the new Arizona law is inappropriate then they need to direct their anger at the federal government, because the new Arizona law simply regulates and enforces immigration law the same way the federal law and federal authorities currently regulate, and have regulated for decades. Racial profiling is specifically written in the law to be illegal. No additional documents are needed for anyone, other than what federal law currently requires.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 12, 2010 @ 11:36 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF Folsom Street Fair 2010 poster inspired by recent police raids of Texas, Georgia gay bars

The poster image for the 2010 Folsom Street Fair was inspired by recent police raids of gay bars in Fort Worth, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia. The official poster also derived inspiration from the movie The Usual Suspects, the 1995 crime capper directed by openly gay filmmaker Brian Singer.

The organizers of the annual fetish fair, Folsom Street Events, said due to the outrage sparked within the LGBT community by the raids at the Atlanta Eagle and The Rainbow Lounge in Texas they decided to use the poster’s artwork as a way to highlight  issues of crime and punishment in the community.

In a statement released on Mother’s Day announcing the poster design, Folsom Street Events said the image, which features a line up of people in various drag, leather and fetish wear, juxtaposes crimes on Wall Street, such as the Goldman Sachs scandal, against behaviors in the BDSM community which may be punishable in some states and cities. Only recently did the Oakland City Council move to end a ban against cross-dressing that has been on the East Bay city’s books since the 1800s.

“This year’s Folsom Street Fair poster is intended to draw attention to the ongoing discrimination and persecution facing consenting adults who practice BDSM,” stated Demetri Moshoyannis, the organization’s executive director. “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this poster because it maintains the tradition of our trademark cutting-edge commentary on our community within the broader society. We are very much looking forward to producing a fantastic series of internationally renowned events this year.”

The theme selection will unlikely generate the same controversy seen in 2007 when the poster depicted a leather Last Supper scene with a shirtless black Jesus figure. Catholic groups decried the image as anti-religious and the fair and its major sponsor Miller Brewing Company apologized for offending anyone.

Nonetheless, the yearly poster images are coveted collectors items by people the world over who attend the fairs.

“Folsom Street Fair has a custom now of creating posters which are timely, provocative, and address vital community issues and values. At the same time, we like to give it our own ‘cheeky’ spin,” stated Mitchell Koonce, the group’s administration and special projects manager who oversaw the creative process of producing the this year’s poster. “With everything that has been happening on Wall Street, we think it is important to spotlight the real criminal behavior in society.”

The fair producers note that consensual BDSM can be prosecuted in many jurisdictions under felony laws dealing with assault and sexual abuse with the potential for serious jail time. Criminal laws that are used against consensual BDSM practitioners can include assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sadomasochistic abuse, lewd or lascivious conduct, selling or possessing certain sex toys, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, and trafficking.

For many other categories of sex-related crimes, proof of consent defeats the prosecution’s case – not so with BDSM, which is treated as violence instead of consensual sexual conduct, stated the fair producers.

Even going out to a gay bar can result in police harassment to this day, as witnessed last year when 62 patrons and eight employees at the Atlanta Eagle were searched without a warrant, reasonable suspicion or probable cause on September 10.

News reports noted that several patrons were forced to lie face down on the floor for over two hours, and LGBT community leaders decried what they saw as excessive force by the police who used a “Red Dog Unit,” which typically deals with crimes such as gang violence, during the bar raid.

The LGBT community the world over also reacted with anger and shock at the  raid on the gay bar in Forth Worth, Texas on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots last June. And in California LGBT leaders have expressed concerns about the tactics used by the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in overseeing liquor licenses at gay and straight venues.

“This targeting of consensual, adult behavior is often a way of harassing sexual minority communities,” stated Folsom Fair Events leaders in their release.

The Folsom Street Fair poster is available online at

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 11, 2010 @ 5:17 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Labor Council endorses Mandelman in D8 supe race

As his opponents have gained support from some high profile politicians in recent days, District 8 supervisor candidate Rafael Mandelman won significant backing of his own. Monday, May 10  the San Francisco Labor Council endorsed his bid to succeed Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is termed out this year and running for mayor in 2011.

The SF Labor Council is the local body of the AFL-CIO. According to its website, the nonprofit group represents more than 100,000 union members and their families in San Francisco who belong to more than 150 affiliated unions. The group’s endorsement will allow Mandelman to tap into its vast network to recruit campaign volunteers and help with his get-out-the-vote efforts come the fall.

“I’m deeply grateful for their support and will continue to champion economic justice for working people who are struggling to make ends meet in these tough economic times,” said Mandelman, a local attorney,  in an email Tuesday announcing the group’s support.

Also this week Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Prozan earned the support of Assemblywoman Fiona Ma in her bid for the District 8 seat; while Assistant City Attorney Scott Wiener won the backing of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein for his candidacy in the race.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:29 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF supervisors committee continues Sit/lie proposal

A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee has continued a controversial proposal to restrict people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks to Monday, May 24.

A Monday, May 10 public safety committee hearing on the ordinance lasted several hours, but that apparently still wasn’t enough time to fully discuss the ban, which specifically would be in effect between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Progressives have criticized Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier’s proposal, saying it’s unnecessary. Some also worry it could be used to target groups such as homeless LGBT youth.

Others, including residents and merchants in the Haight who first suggested the idea, say it’s needed to keep squatters from blocking doorways and intimidating people.

The ordinance was introduced Tuesday, March 2.

The proposal calls for police to first issue a warning to any violator. After that, among other punishments, a first offense could result in a fine of $50 to $100. Subsequent offenses could result in penalties including fines of $300 to $500, or jail time.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:14 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ma throws support to Prozan in D8 supe race

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) has thrown her support to District 8 supervisor candidate Rebecca Prozan (left in photo). The powerful Sacramento lawmaker – she serves as speaker pro tempore in the Legislature’s lower body – had been supporting Laura Spanjian in the race until Spanjian ended her bid this spring to take a job with the city of Houston.

In an email sent out by Prozan’s campaign announcing the endorsement, Ma pointed to the candidate’s ability to tackle neighborhood issues as for why she picked her over her main opponents in the race: local attorney Rafael Mandelman and deputy city attorney Scott Wiener.

Prior to becoming an assistant district attorney, Prozan worked for former Mayor Willie Brown in his Office of Neighborhood Services and briefly was a legislative aide to Supervisor Bevan Dufty, the current holder of the District 8 seat who is termed out this year.

“Rebecca Prozan is an independent leader who has proven time and again that she is the candidate who gets things done,” stated Ma.  “She is putting forward solutions to help small businesses, families, and transportation.”

For those keeping count, Prozan has half of the city’s 4-person legislative caucus backing her in the supervisor race. Senator Leland Yee had already endorsed her in the race.

Senator Mark Leno is supporting Wiener while Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is backing Mandelman.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:49 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

LGBT groups set for hotel protest over labor disputes

At least two LGBT-related groups will be protesting several San Francisco hotels Saturday, May 8, hoping to draw attention to workers’ boycotts and discourage people from staying at Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood, or InterContinental hotels during Pride.

“We are sending a message to the hotel corporations that the gay community is an important source of tourists dollars and that we support the worker boycott,” event organizer Jane Martin, who’s with Pride at Work, said in a statement. “At the same time, we are sending the message to members of our own LGBTQ community that when you come to San Francisco in June for the Pride celebration, support the workers and honor the hotel boycott.”

The protest – which will feature music, dancing, and, of course, picketing – begins at 3 p.m. at Stockton Street and Geary Boulevard (Union Square). The group One Struggle, One Fight is also involved in the demonstration.

Despite trying to negotiate with the companies, the workers are being denied affordable, high-quality healthcare, according to demonstration organizers.

Hotel workers have officially called for boycotts of the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf, Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, The Palace, Westin St. Francis, Hilton (at O’Farrell), and the W Hotel.

“We are asking the LGBT community to support us in our struggle to get a fair contract to ensure the future of our families and the rights of LGBT members working in the hotels,” Leo Volobrynskyy, an openly gay hotel banquet server, said in the statement announcing the protest. “In the past we have negotiated language in our contract protecting same sex couples. The union has supported the rights of gay hotel workers and so we hope the LGBT community will stand with us now.”

As far as being denied healthcare, a negotiator for Starwood and a spokesman for the Hyatt said it’s the union that’s refused to come back to the bargaining table.

“We’ve contacted the union at least four to five times,” but they won’t budge on their proposal, said Richard Curiale, chief negotiator for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which manages The Palace, the W, and the Westin St. Francis but does not own them.

In response, Riddhi Mehta, press coordinator for Local 2, the union involved with the boycotts, said, “When management puts a serious proposal on the table, we’re willing to go back to the table and negotiate, but there has to be a serious effort on their part” to make the negotiations successful.

Mehta said there are two separate boycotts. One is against the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf and and Le Meridien, where workers are struggling with management over the process of forming a union. That boycott has been going on since June 2008, said Mehta.

The other boycott, which is over what workers’ share of healthcare premiums should be, is against The Palace, the Westin St. Francis, the W, the Grand Hyatt, and the Hilton. That boycott started last fall, said Mehta, who also said Local 2 is not involved in Saturday’s demonstration.

Curiale said the boycotts hurt the workers, a sentiment shared by Peter Hillan, who works for the public relations and marketing firm Fleishman-Hillard and is representing the Hyatt.

“What Local 2 leadership is doing right now is really harming their own members, and we’re urging Local 2 leadership to come back to the bargaining table,” said Hillan.

“We certainly appreciate our friends in the LGBT community voicing their opinion, but we do believe, as we’ve said consistently, the resolution to the issues are going to be done at the bargaining table,” he said.

The Hilton and InterContinental companies did not provide comment Friday afternoon.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 7, 2010 @ 5:11 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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