Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 50 / 14 December 2017
 

Lambda Legal, others ask state to explain HIV-related disclosures

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, and HIV and AIDS Legal Services Alliance sent a letter today [Thursday, September 9] to David Maxwell-Jolly, director of the California Department of Health Care Services, demanding an explanation for “the unauthorized and illegal disclosures of confidential identifying information of approximately 5,000 HIV-positive Medi-Cal recipients,” according to a Lambda statement.

The information was released over a two-and-a-half-year period, beginning in 2007, to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, according to Lambda.

The groups became aware of the breach during discussions about Assembly Bill 2590, which would have legalized the unauthorized release of such information, Lambda’s statement said.

The health care services department released confidential identifying information about HIV-positive Medi-Cal recipients without authorization or proper limitations on how that information was to be used, according to Lambda.

“This is not just a violation of people’s privacy, it’s a violation of California law,” stated Peter Renn, staff attorney with Lambda Legal. “HIV is still a highly stigmatized disease, something the state agency seems to have conveniently forgotten.”

The three organizations have requested the state agency to respond by September 20.

The health care services department has not yet provided comment to the Bay Area Reporter.

For more information, and to see a complete version of the letter, go to Lambda’s website.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 9, 2010 @ 3:01 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF LGBT center surveys users

What does San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center mean to you? The center is seeking answers to that and other questions in its brief online survey. Responses are due by Wednesday, September 15.

Besides the question on what the center’s programming means to members (they’re looking for one-word answers on that one), the center’s also curious about what people think are the most important programs there. They also want to know what the center does well, and where improvements can be made.

Rebecca Rolfe, the center’s executive director, said the survey is”an opportunity to get feedback form people in the community and keep the doors of engagement open.”

The community center’s also spreading the word about the Scissor Sisters (pictured above) official after-concert party, which will benefit the center. Tickets for the party, planned for 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Clift Hotel’s Redwood Room (495 Geary Street, San Francisco) are $10 in advance

For more information, visit www.sfcenter.org

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


LGBT activists to close Castro street tonight to pressure Speaker Pelosi to hold ENDA vote

LGBT activists and their allies plan to close down Market Street at Castro tonight (Thursday, September 9) in an effort to pressure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to schedule a vote on federal legislation banning anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace that has been stalled in Congress all summer.

GetEqual, a relatively new LGBT organization that has taken to street actions and protests in order to move the LGBT community’s agenda on Capitol Hill, is coordinating tonight’s action. One Struggle One Fight, an LGBT and allied civil disobedience organization; and Pride at Work, an officially-recognized, LGBT constituency group of the AFL-CIO, are also sponsoring the protest, which will begin at 5 p.m. at Harvey Milk Plaza above the Castro Muni station.

Activists plan to then block the intersection at Market and Castro Street during the evening commute by unfurling a banner that says “Pelosi: When Jobs are Lost, the Market Stops.”

As for why they decided to interrupt traffic in the city’s gayborhood and not closer to the entrance to I-80 at Octavia and Market or further up Market in the financial district, it was felt the Castro would send a stronger message from Pelosi’s LGBT constituents, said GetEqual co-founder Robin McGehee.

“We, GetEqual, thought that the financial district was the best hit, but we let her constituency decide on where they wanted to target the action and the co-organizing groups felt that Castro and Market seemed more like a message coming from our people to her – we let them decide,” she said.

The Castro demonstration follows last night’s action against East Bay Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez), the House Education and Labor Committee chairman, at a Wednesday, September 8 campaign debate in Vacaville. Protesters interrupted the candidate forum at the Travis Credit Union Auditorium in order to urge Miller to hold a vote on ENDA in his committee.

They targeted Miller because of his statement to the LGBT newspaper the Washington Blade that he would move on ENDA “right after healthcare.” Congress passed the healthcare legislation nearly six months ago. At the debate the protestors held signs that read, “Miller Markup Employment Non Discrimination Act Now.” [See photo at right.]

The national and local groups have been putting pressure on Congress since the spring when Pelosi promised LGBT leaders that the House would vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act this year. GetEqual members have held sit-ins in Pelosi’s offices and took part in non-violent acts of civil disobedience in July in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

In June local activists demanded San Francisco Pride officials read a statement urging Pelosi to fulfill her response on ENDA after they agreed to show a videotaped message from the congresswoman during the LGBT festival in the Civic Center.

Demonstrators also held a rally outside of her federal offices on Mission Street in the South of Market neighborhood in late July to once again demand Pelosi make good on her promise, which she repeated July 24 during a speech at the Netroots Nation conference where she said she wanted to pass ENDA but needed activists to “build the mass to make me do it.”

Many LGBT leaders are fearful that time is running out on ENDA this year. Congress is returning to work this month after its summer recess but there are only a few weeks left before they break in October ahead of the midterm elections. And with polls showing that Republicans could retake the House in November, LGBT activists say it is imperative that Congress sends ENDA to the president this year.

“We pay taxes, contribute to the economy, and create American-paid jobs that provide products and services world-wide. Yet we continue to be treated unequal and Speaker Pelosi has the power to bring us one step closer to being fully-protected American citizens – and workers,” stated Dan Fotou, a California GetEqual supporter who plans to participate in tonight’s rally. “As Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress are out campaigning to keep their jobs, they should know we have every intent of continuing our campaign to keep our jobs, too. Speaker Pelosi has said that ‘our impatience is justified’ – but what isn’t justified is the unfulfilled promises she continues to make to the LGBT community. It’s time for Speaker Pelosi to do the right thing and schedule an immediate vote on ENDA.”

The statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality California has also endorsed tonight’s rally and demonstration.

“The clock is ticking and the promise to pass ENDA in the house with enough time to pass it in the Senate and have it signed by President is slipping away. It is imperative that ENDA pass and be signed into law this year,” stated EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors, who was on the call in May when Pelosi first promised an ENDA vote. “Every day that job discrimination remains legal anywhere in our nation is another day an LGBT person is at risk for losing their job for no reason other than their sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination is un-American and the time for excuses for not passing this law have long passed.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Whitman hires ex-legislator with mixed LGBT record

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman announced today [Thursday, September 2] that she’s adding a former assemblywoman who got a 100-percent rating from Equality California in 2008 to her staff.

Nicole Parra, who represented conservative Central Valley counties from 2002 until 2008, had a mixed record for several of those years. Parra will lead the Whitman campaign’s effort to engage Democratic and decline-to-state voters. She was a Democrat but is now registered decline-to-state.

In 2008, EQCA, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, gave Parra a rating of 100 percent. She had voted for several LGBT-favorable bills that year, including Senate Bill 153, a proposal to allow two people – including same-gender couples – who co-own a home together and meet specified criteria to avoid a property tax increase upon the death of one co-owner. Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger eventually vetoed the bill.

In 2007, Parra received a 7o-percent rating. That year, she voted against a proposal to legalize same-sex marriages in California. She voted against a similar proposal in 2005, when she got a 73-percent score. Schwarzenegger vetoed both bills, which were authored by then-Assemblyman Mark Leno (D – San Francisco). Leno is now a senator.

One LGBT-friendly thing Schwarzenegger has recently done is decline to defend the Prop 8 same-sex marriage ban in court. Whitman, who supports civil unions, has said she would fight for the state’s same-sex marriage ban in court

Prop 8, passed by state voters in November 2008, was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in August. Prop 8’s backers are appealing that ruling.

Geoff Kors, EQCA’s executive director, said Parra has always been “generally a more conservative Democrat,” and she didn’t always support other Democrats.

Parra isn’t a strange choice for Whitman’s campaign, he indicated.

“I think campaigns always want to get people from the other party in leadership roles” in their campaigns, said Kors.

“To win, [Whitman] can’t just rely on Republicans. Ultimately, Whitman cares about one thing: winning. That always has appeared more important than her stance on any issues,” he said.

Parra didn’t bring up marriage equality in her statement today, but spoke generally about what she’ll be doing.

“I will be traveling throughout California, starting today in Oakland, to talk to Democratic and independent voters who are tired of the old ways of thinking and are looking for fresh ideas and a new style of leadership from their elected officials,” she stated. “We will be talking about Meg’s plan for improving the economy, controlling spending and fixing our public schools, issues that Californians care most about. Democratic and independent voters will help lead Meg to victory in November.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 2, 2010 @ 3:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Alioto-Pier off ballot after CA Supreme Court denies to take up her case

Without comment the California Supreme Court today (Wednesday, September 1) denied to hear the case of San Francisco Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who had sought an appeal of a lower court’s ruling barring her from seeking re-election this year.

A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal last month unanimously reversed a trial court ruling that initially had allowed her to run for office. The trial judge’s decision was a rebuke of City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s reading of the city’s term limits law.

Because Alioto-Pier served out the remainder of Gavin Newsom’s term after he became mayor in 2004 and was then re-elected for another term, Herrera had informed her that she had served two full-terms and was therefore termed out of office this year.

The supervisor sought to overturn his interpretation of the law after she ended her bid for state insurance commissioner in the spring. After the trial court ruled in her favor, city elections officials said they would include her name on the ballot.

After the appellate judges decided that Herrera was correct in barring her from running this year, Alioto-Pier asked the state’s highest court to intervene in the matter. It’s decision not to hear the case, in effect, ends her campaign.

Following the court’s decision to stay out of the case, she issued a statement expressing her disappointment in having to leave public office when her term expires in January.

“I believed and continued to believe that the intent of the voters as reflected in the plain language of our city charter allows me to run for second four year term.  While I am disappointed in the outcome, I of course respect the judicial process,” stated Alioto-Pier. “I will continue to work hard for the residents of my district and the people of San Francisco for the remainder of my time in office.”

Herrera, who announced last week he is running to be San Francisco’s next mayor in 2011, also issued a statement in which he stressed his opinion was not personal and praised Alioto-Pier’s work on the board.

“While we obviously disagreed on the interpretation of the City’s term limits law, I have always respected her right to pursue this dispute in the courts.  I know most San Franciscans join me in thanking her for her service to our City, and I hope there will be other opportunities for us to benefit from her leadership in the future,” stated Herrera.

Alioto-Pier’s District 2 seat covers the moderate and well-to-do neighborhoods of Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow and the Marina. It also has a large concentration of HIV positive residents.

Her removal from the race is a huge victory for Janet Reilly, who has drawn the most support from the city’s Democratic establishment, including the coveted endorsement of the local Democratic Party. She will face off against Mark Farrell, Kat Anderson, Vilma Guinto Peoro, Barbara Berwick and Abraham Simmons.

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 1, 2010 @ 2:07 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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