Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

EQCA announces new team members

Equality California, the statewide LGBT lobbying organization, announced some new team members today.

Toni Broaddus (seen at left), former executive director of the national Equality Federation, is now project manager for The Breakthrough Conversation, a campaign designed to educate people about LGBT issues. Broaddus also once worked as program director at EQCA.

In a statement today, Clarissa Filgioun and Cathy Schwamberger, board presidents for EQCA and its institute, respectively, said the campaign “will be critical in enabling EQCA and the LGBT movement to identify, understand, and then break through the emotional and psychological barriers to full LGBT equality.”

The Breakthrough Conversation and Equality California itself appear to be in need of some help. EQCA launched the effort in October through its educational operation, the Equality California Institute.

They announced the campaign days before former Executive Director Roland Palencia left the organization. He’d only been with EQCA, which has been struggling financially, for about three months.

The Breakthrough Conversation, supported by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, is supposed to focus on research, message development, and trainings involving other LGBT groups around the state. But since its launch, the program doesn’t appear to have generated much activity.

Another person with ties to the Equality Federation is also now working with Equality California. Roey Thorpe will provide support to EQCA’s board as they search for an interim executive director.

Thorpe will be helping EQCA in her capacity as director of strategic projects for the Equality Federation. Among other previous posts, Thorpe once served as executive director of the pro-LGBT Basic Rights Oregon, where she was Rebekah Orr’s boss. Orr is now EQCA’s spokeswoman.

Orr said in an interview that Thorpe’s assistance isn’t costing EQCA anything, since her work is a service provided by the Equality Federation. EQCA’s a federation member.

Broaddus is being funded through the support of the Haas Fund, and Orr couldn’t say how much Broaddus is being paid.

Broaddus and Thorpe couldn’t be reached for comment.

Also working with EQCA is Alice Kessler, the group’s former government relations director. She’ll once again lead their legislative work, replacing Mario Guerrero, who’s contract expired November 30.

Researcher Amy Simon will continue assisting EQCA with “comprehensive and groundbreaking polling and focus groups,” the organization announced.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on their positions in the Thursday, December 22 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 15, 2011 @ 4:44 pm PST
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Meeting set for New Year’s Eve safety plans

The California Music and Culture Association is hosting a meeting Monday, December 19 for San Francisco club owners, promoters, and others to talk about security for New Year’s Eve.

The workshop on safety best practices is from 3 to 5 p.m. at Mezzanine, 444 Jessie Street.

Invited panelists include Jocelyn Kane, San Francisco Entertainment Commission; Commander Richard Corriea, San Francisco Police Department; and others.

Tim Eicher, who co-owns the bars the Edge, Midnight Sun, and QBar in the Castro, is planning to attend Monday’s meeting.

“I don’t have any particular concerns for New Year’s Eve,” Eicher said. “I think all the clubs know to staff up on security.”

The evening of December 31 “hasn’t really been a particularly problematic night in the Castro that I’m aware of. I think most of the issues that they’re covering in the meeting are geared more toward the really big clubs.”

Still, he expects he’ll find useful information at the meeting, he said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 14, 2011 @ 6:30 pm PST
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Gay men involved in drunken fight outside Mint bar

A gay couple was physically attacked outside San Francisco’s Mint karaoke bar (seen at left) recently after one of them got into a drunken argument with other patrons, according to the two men.

Asked exactly how the fight began, Javier Melara, 35, immediately took the blame.

“The incident started because I was drunk,” he said.

He and Agustin Torres, 33, his boyfriend, were at the club celebrating Melara’s birthday. The incident occurred at about 1:50 a.m., Thursday, November 24.

He said he’d had some tequila shots and about five margaritas, so he couldn’t remember many details from the evening. But he does remember singing Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”

Later, he got upset because he wasn’t permitted to sing a second song. He said he blamed another patron at random and told the other man it was because the man was white.

The other man, whom witnesses describe as Latino, soon approached Melara with three friends. One of them asked him about his “white” remark, and they all started arguing before staff escorted them outside.

He felt like the other men “came at me,” Melara said. Melara, an ex-Marine who moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2000 to come out, said he had an “ultra masculine” background and had been “ashamed of being gay.” This time, he said, “I wasn’t going to back down.”

Once the men were all outside, Melara still didn’t relent, he said, and the others surrounded him as bar personnel tried to separate them. Melara said one of the men punched him, then ran away with his friends. (Mint staff reports provided to the Bay Area Reporter say that Melara was hit while still inside the bar.)

Melara said after he was hit outside, the bar staff simply went back inside to close up. He started punching the door and screaming, he said, because he felt “unprotected.”

Bar employees called police as Melara pounded on the doors, according to their reports.

When officers arrived, “I was angry at them, because I felt they were looking at me as the main suspect,” Melara said. He said he was briefly placed in handcuffs.

Melara said his injuries included a black eye, and his hand was swollen from punching the door. Torres said he was hit in the face and kicked during the incident. Melara refused medical treatment. Torres declined a ride to the hospital but said he missed time from work.

Torres said that during the fight, the other men told Melara, “We can fuck you up right now,” and called both him and Melara “faggot.”

The police report doesn’t mention any slurs. Torres said he had trouble telling officers exactly what happened because of the pain he was in.

The reports from Mint staff don’t indicate any homophobic slurs were used. They also say a friend of Melara’s, apparently Torres, was shouting obscenities about white people, and Melara used slurs about Mexicans when everybody was outside the bar.

Melara didn’t remember any homophobic slurs being used  “but I don’t know what was going on around me.”

Victor Hundahl, who owns the Mint with his boyfriend, Eddy Chan, said outdoor surveillance video shows Melara threatening the other men with his fists as staff tried to keep everyone separated.

“We have a very safe environment,” said Hundahl, who added, “We don’t put up with this stuff.” He said this was the first incident of its kind he could recall at the bar.

No one provided detailed descriptions of the men who hit Torres and Melara, who live in San Mateo, to police, and no arrests have been made.

Melara told the B.A.R. he probably could’ve prevented what happened “if I’d shut up.” However, he said, “I’m tired of shutting up. … I’ve come way too far, and I’ve learned a lot about myself to know I’m ok now, and I have rights.”

Torres was the person who first told the B.A.R. of the incident. Melara said he agreed to an interview only because he felt “in debt” to Torres, whom he said was an innocent bystander.

“I love that guy,” Melara said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 9, 2011 @ 2:07 pm PST
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Out lawmaker Cathleen Galgiani kicks off Senate bid, hosts event for gay Sacto candidate

Central Valley Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani (D-Livingston) has a busy week ahead of her, as she plans to kick off her Senate bid next Thursday, a day after hosting a fundraiser for a gay man seeking a Sacramento City Council seat.

Long rumored to be lesbian – a columnist once noted she was single and lived with cats during her first campaign for a legislative seat – Galgiani (seen at right) came out during an interview last month with her hometown paper the Stockton Record.

The 47-year-old said her decision to speak openly for the first time was in reaction to the rash of suicides among teenagers struggling with their own sexual orientation. She told the paper she wants to be a role model for young people.

The Stockton native is moving back home in order to run for the new 5th Senate District largely centered in San Joaquin County. She will face two Republicans in next June’s open primary, Assemblyman Bill Berryhill from Ceres and San Joaquin County Supervisor Leroy Ornellas.

She is kicking off her Senate campaign Thursday, December 15 at the Stockton Empire Theater. The event runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and tickets start at $100 per person.

The night before, Wednesday, December 14, she will be hosting a fundraiser for the campaign of Steve Hansen, an out gay man seeking the District 4 seat on the Sacramento City Council. As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a recent profile on Hansen, he would be the first out LGBT person to serve in local elected office in the state’s capital.

In addition to raising money for Hansen’s bid, the party also aims to collect toys to donate to a local Christmas present drive.

The event at a private home in downtown Sacramento runs from 5 to 7 p.m. and tickets begin at $25 per person. To RSVP and receive location info, email


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:01 pm PST
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Anti-gay group calls FAIR Education Act ‘indoctrination,’ Milk ‘predator’

The anti-gay sent out an email blast today calling the state’s Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act an “indoctrination” law and referring to Harvey Milk as a “notorious sexual predator.”

The FAIR Education Act, also known as Senate Bill 48, was signed into law this summer and is set to take effect January 1.

The law requires that schools teach about the historical contributions of LGBTs, such as Milk, the former San Francisco supervisor who was one of the country’s first openly gay elected officials before he was assassinated in 1978.

The FAIR Education Act also requires that students learn about people with disabilities and other communities.

It’s not clear whether Randy Thomasson (seen at left),’s founder, plans to propose repeal of the FAIR Education Act. He didn’t respond to an interview request. If he does file, he’ll be facing some competition.

Five proposed ballot measures designed to gut the law have already been submitted to the attorney general’s office for inclusion on the November 2012 ballot. The initiative proposals include striking LGBTs and people with disabilities from parts of the FAIR Education Act. The measures’ backers will have about five months to gather the 504,760 signatures needed to put their ideas before voters.

Capitol Resource Institute head Karen England, one of the people who wants to undo the new law, already failed once when she couldn’t collect enough petition signatures for a repeal referendum earlier this fall.

Today’s email, which bemoans that parents can’t opt their children out of the lessons, says that the act “mandates that children as young as kindergarten admire homosexual, bisexual, and cross-dressing lifestyles and persons, which are unnatural and unhealthy.” It also says, “Sadly, SB 48 is only 1 of 8 school sexual indoctrination laws in California.”

According to, because of SB 572, which established Harvey Milk Day, students in Moreno Valley, California were “corralled into a school assembly to celebrate notorious sexual predator and gay activist Harvey Milk. No parental notification.”

The message points people to, where they can get tips on alternatives such as homeschooling.

Carolyn Laub, executive director of Gay Straight Alliance Network, said in an interview that the “indoctrination” and “predator” comments are the same “fear-based rhetoric that was used during Prop 8 to try to scare people into not supporting LGBT equality or inclusion.” The GSA Network is part of a coalition that’s worked to protect the FAIR Education Act.

Prop 8 is the same-sex marriage ban that California voters passed in November 2008. In the months leading up to that election, anti-gay activists scared many voters into believing their children would be harmed if gay couples were allowed to legally marry.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 8, 2011 @ 3:48 pm PST
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Leno, Ammiano back Ting’s SF Assembly bid

Straight off his lackluster performance in this year’s mayoral race, San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting (seen at left) has already announced plans to run for state Assembly next year.

Ting plans to seek the city’s 19th Assembly District seat, centered on the western side of town and currently held by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), who is termed out of office in 2012 and planning to run for a seat on the state Board of Equalization in 2014.

In an email Ting sent out to supporters December 6, he wrote that his decision to seek the legislative seat came after his wife, Susan, agreed to have the family go through another campaign.

“Some of you know that I’ve thought about running for the state Assembly in the past and that I have been asked to run by a number of people. But I’m not just one person. I’m part of one wonderful family, and I didn’t want to take such an important step without the full support of Susan and the family,” wrote Ting. “So it is with excitement and gratitude that I can report that Susan said ‘Yes’ and that I will be a candidate for state Assembly in the seat that Fiona Ma is leaving due to term limits.”

Ma has yet to endorse Ting’s campaign, but a host of straight and LGBT leaders already have signed on to the gay-friendly politician’s bid. Among his queer supporters are both state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). (Ting’s wife works in Leno’s San Francisco office.)

Other LGBT backers include District 9 Supervisor David Campos; former District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty; and local Democratic Party leaders Debra Walker, Leslie Katz and Rafael Mandelman.

In the mayoral election Ting did fairly poorly in the current 12th Assembly District, which was redrawn slightly and renumbered AD 19 due to redistricting.  According to election department data, Ting received 510 first place votes, which was less than the 599 lesbian playwright Terry Baum garnered from voters in AD 12.

Nonetheless, Ting is seen as a frontrunner for the seat due to the considerable community support he has already lined up. He already has a campaign website launched and is set to hold his first fundraiser next week.

The reception is a prelude to a formal campaign kick-off he is planning in January.

The event will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 13 at Lot 46, 46 Geary (between Grant and Kearny) in San Francisco.

To RSVP go to

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:54 pm PST
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Milk Club says Wiener endangering historic sites

The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club is protesting amendments proposed by gay Supervisor Scott Wiener (seen at left) they say would “water down” San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission.

The city’s Planning Commission is considering amendments to the planning code, including a series of changes that Wiener introduced. The club is encouraging people to attend planning commissioners’ meeting at 1 p.m., Thursday, December 8, in City Hall, Room 400.

According to a Milk Club email blast, the historic preservation panel has questioned or rejected the majority of Wiener’s proposals.

The group San Francisco Architectural Heritage’s website says Wiener’s amendments “would impose unique procedural hurdles on the designation of historic districts.”

Among their more specific complaints, the organization says one proposal by Wiener “is a misguided attempt to exempt an entire class of projects from historic review, clearing the path for demolition, insensitive alterations and new construction regardless of the significance of the structure or the surrounding historic district.”

In an interview, Wiener called complaints that his proposals would diminish the Historic Preservation Commission and endanger historic structures “completely untrue.

“I’m proposing some very modest amendments that will improve the historic preservation process,” he said. Wiener said Planning Department staff and the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association support the changes.

He said among his proposals is one allowing unemployed historic district residents to work with city staff on less-costly property alterations than they’d normally face.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 7, 2011 @ 5:16 pm PST
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SF bison could be named after lesbian icon

Pioneering lesbian icons such as Alice B. Toklas and Del Martin already have been honored in San Francisco by having a political club and health clinic, respectively, named after them. How about adding a bison to the list?

The city’s zoo and recreation department just welcomed seven new female baby buffalo to the paddock in Golden Gate Park. Currently, the baby bison are quarantined in a secured location near the main bison paddock in Golden Gate Park. A video of the babies’ arrival can be seen here.

The two agencies also launched a naming contest for one of the furry even-toed ungulates. The general public can submit names until January 13 and then a panel of judges will select a short list of entries that will then be voted on by the public.

The naming winner will be announced at the official welcome ceremony in early 2012 when the bison are ready to be released in the paddock to join the bison herd.

For ways to submit names visit the contest webpage here.

Richard Blum, the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) worked with city officials to obtain the new residents in order to replenish the bison herd.

Several of the older bison have died in recent months following an extensive renovation of the paddock and adjacent grass feeding area.

“The bison at Golden Gate Park are a historic and celebrated treasure in San Francisco,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “We welcome the new bison herd to their new home, and I know they will continue to delight residents and visitors using our world class Golden Gate Park.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 5:11 pm PST
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Rally planned as Prop 8 case heads back to SF federal appeals court Thursday, Dec. 8

Marriage equality proponents plan to rally in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco tomorrow (Thursday, December 8) as the fight over California’s ban against same-sex couples marrying returns to court.

An appellate panel will hear arguments in the case on whether tapes of the 2010 federal trial over the constitutionality of the ban, known as Proposition 8, should be released for public viewing. Despite two federal district court judges’ decisions that the tapes should be released, they remain sealed as the antigay backers of Prop 8 block efforts to make them available.

A coalition of major media companies has banned together to request the tapes be released, as have the lawyers seeking Prop 8 be struck down. The two-hour-long oral arguments begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live to several courthouses on the West Coast.

The appellate justices will also hear arguments on whether the trial judge’s decision last year that Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution should be overturned because he did not disclose that he is gay and in a committed relationship at the start of the three-week-long proceedings.

The San Francisco Chronicle outed retired U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker prior to his decision in the case, but Walker did not publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation until after he left the bench earlier this year.

Prop 8’s backers have sought to vacate Walker’s judgment on the grounds he should have recused himself from presiding over the case because of his being gay. Attorneys for the two same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit, known as Perry vs. Brown, have dismissed the vacate motion as a last minute “desperate” attempt.

The two sides will once again square off inside Courtroom 1 in the federal courthouse located at the corner of Mission and 7th Streets. It will be the final hearing before the Ninth Circuit panel, which first heard oral arguments last December, before it issues a ruling on the August 2010 decision that struck down Prop 8.

The panel consists of Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt of Los Angeles and N. Randy Smith of Pocatello, Idaho, and Senior Circuit Judge Michael Daly Hawkins of Phoenix.

A “Free the Tapes” and “Motion to Marry” rally, being planned by Marriage Equality USA, begins at 1 p.m. in front of the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse, 95 7th Street.

For info on seating and where to view the hearing, visit the court’s Prop 8 lawsuit webpage here.


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:55 pm PST
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Evan Low named Campbell vice mayor, suspends 2012 Assembly campaign

Openly gay Campbell City Councilman Evan Low (seen at right) has been named the South Bay city’s new vice mayor for 2012. The selection by his council colleagues this week means Low, 28, is set to once again be his hometown’s mayor in 2013.

He previously served as mayor in 2010. At the time, Low was the youngest Asian American, as well as openly gay, mayor in the nation.

A Democratic Party official, Low this year launched a bid for a state Assembly seat in 2012. Due to redistricting and the likelihood that his boss, Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), will seek the newly drawn Assembly District 24 seat, centered in the Silicon Valley towns of Campbell and Saratoga, Low has suspended his campaign.

He told the Bay Area Reporter this week that he is still meeting with leaders throughout the district in plans of seeking the seat at a later date. And due to the fact that Fong has yet to formally announce what his intentions are, Low said he is not completely abandoning the notion of a run next fall.

The filing deadline for candidates to run in the June primary is March 2. Under the state’s open primary system, the top two vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, move on to the general election, scheduled to take place Tuesday, November 6.

“I am kind of still running but obviously with the election next year and redistricting, it looks like Paul Fong will be running for that seat too,” said Low. “I am still meeting with people about issues but I am not asking people for votes for the election per se.”

Openly gay Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager suspended his campaign for the new Assembly seat in September, as his San Jose neighborhood is also included in the new district.

One clear indication of Fong’s intentions came last Friday, December 2 when the state lawmaker held a rally in San Jose with local politicians and city workers to weigh in on that city’s fiscal issues. He called for San Jose city leaders to adopt a “zero cuts” budget.

Should Fong indeed seek a third and final two-year term in the Assembly, then Low said he does plan to run in 2014. He will be termed off the Campbell City Council that year.

“I will be running for Assembly when the termed out member steps down in 2014,” said Low.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:49 pm PST
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