Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Court supports same-sex couples in benefits case

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has rejected the federal government’s request to dismiss the constitutional claims of gay and lesbian state workers who, together with their registered domestic partners, are excluded from equal access to the state’s Long-Term Care Program.

Judge Claudia Wilken issued the ruling in Dragovich v. CalPERS, a class action lawsuit challenging federal and state laws including the Defense of Marriage Act which regulate state-sponsored long-term care plans. The ruling was issued Thursday, January 26. CalPERS is the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

“Registering as domestic partners is the only legal status currently available to gay and lesbian couples in California,” Claudia Center of Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center, the group representing plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement. “These couples have agreed to take on all of the obligations of marriage, and are entitled to fair and equal treatment from the federal government.”

In finding that the exclusion may violate the U.S. Constitution, the court took note of discriminatory intent, referring to a number of official actions the federal government has taken to oppose same-sex domestic partnerships. These include the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans federal recognition of same-sex relationships. The opinion also quoted Congressional leaders who’ve described domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples as “an attack on the family” and “abhorrent.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 27, 2012 @ 5:45 pm PST
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SB 48 repeal proposal cleared for circulation

The secretary of state’s office today (Thursday, January 26) cleared a proposal to repeal Senate Bill 48 for circulation.

SB 48, also known as the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act, requires that LGBTs’ historical contributions be taught to California’s school students.

The proposal, submitted by Lou Sheldon of the anti-gay Traditional Values Coalition, repeals SB 48’s requirement that instructional materials recognize those contributions.

Sheldon also wants to undo the law’s provision that prohibits instructional materials that reflect adversely on people based on their sexual orientation and other characteristics.

Backers of Sheldon’s initiative have until June 25 to collect the 504,760 valid signatures needed to get the proposal on the state ballot.

Sheldon couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute and its affiliated Capitol Resource Family Impact, is backing another SB 48 repeal initiative, which is expected to be cleared for circulation by mid-February.

Richard Rios, another anti-gay activist, had also proposed undoing SB 48, but he said this week he’s dropping his efforts.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 26, 2012 @ 6:44 pm PST
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Academy of Friends to toast Oscar nominees

Academy of Friends is having a party Thursday, January 26 to toast this year’s Academy Award nominees and raise money.

Through its pricey annual galas, the San Francisco nonprofit has raised more than $8 million for Bay Area HIV and AIDS charities over the years.

This week’s event is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at The Bubble Lounge, 714 Montgomery Street, San Francisco. AOF beneficiaries, underwriters, and corporate sponsors can get in for free. For everyone else, tickets are $20.

This year’s AOF Oscar gala is Sunday, February 26, the night winners of the famous movie awards are announced. This year’s nominees include George Clooney for best actor in The Descendants and Meryl Streep for best actress in The Iron Lady.

AOF board Chair Howard Edelman said his nonprofit got its own reason to celebrate when the retailer Nordstrom said this week that they’d provide $50,000 in corporate sponsorship money, as they did last year.

Nordstrom’s $50,000 pledge means AOF has raised almost all of the $150,000 they’ve budgeted for the gala.

“We’re pretty much right where we need to be,” Edelman said.

The nonprofit plans to use money from corporate sponsors and underwriters to pay for the Oscar night party, while funds from raffle and gala ticket sales, along with silent auction proceeds, are intended to be split among AOF’s beneficiaries.

“We have other expenses to always contend with, but we’re in a great position right now to ensure the money raised goes where it belongs,” Edelman said.

This year’s partners are Huckleberry Youth Programs, Maitri, Shanti, and Women’s HIV Program at UCSF. Tenderloin Health has agreed to be a partner this year, but the agency recently announced its’ closing, and it’s not clear what their involvement with AOF will be.

Recent years have seen trouble for AOF, with the agency shortchanging beneficiaries by a total of $150,000. But Edelman, who took the lead at the organization in June, has been working with others to turn things around.

Tickets for the gala, themed “Scandalous,” are $250 if purchased in advance. The event begins at 5 p.m., Sunday, February 26, and will be held at the San Francisco Design Center Galleria, 101 Henry Adams Street.

Nordstrom staff didn’t respond to an email this afternoon requesting confirmation of their pledge. Other corporate sponsors so far include Gold’s Gym and gaytravelbuddy.com.

For more information, visit www.academyoffriends.org.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 25, 2012 @ 5:59 pm PST
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Jane Warner Plaza plaque to be installed Feb 4

Friends and family of the late Jane Warner, an out lesbian San Francisco Patrol Special Police officer who was a beloved Castro denizen, will gather next month to dedicate a bronze plaque for the public parklet that bears her name.

Warner, who penned the Bay Area Reporter‘s crime column, died on May 8, 2010 at the age of 53 after a battle with ovarian cancer. In her honor the city named the outdoor area on 17th Street at Castro and Market Streets in the fall of 2010.

During the naming ceremony a mockup of the signage, which includes a short bio about Warner, was shown and a fundraising effort to pay for an official sign was launched. In the photo at right, Warner’s wife Dawn Warner is seen looking at the proposed plaque.

But the campaign to pay for it languished for months until Castro community leaders and the patrol specials redoubled their pledge drive efforts in mid 2011 following a report in the B.A.R. 

Last November they announced they had raised enough money to cover the cost of the approximately 30 inches by 26 inches sign and ordered one from Bocci Memorials in Colma for $5,000. The plaque will be attached to the side of one of the plaza’s concrete planters that faces south down Castro Street near the entrance to the Twin Peaks bar.

This week Alan Byard, president of the city’s Patrol Special Police Officers Association, informed city officials and Castro groups that the plaque would be unveiled at a ceremony that starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 4.

“This is a fitting memorial to a woman who gave so much to the community,” wrote Byard in an email.

Those scheduled to attend the public event and speak include state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, and his predecessor, Bevan Dufty. Mayor Ed Lee had been invited but his office declined due to a scheduling conflict.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 20, 2012 @ 1:13 pm PST
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Mirkarimi pleads not guilty to domestic violence charges

New San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanors for allegations of domestic violence this afternoon in a San Francisco Superior Court courtroom.

The Thursday, January 19 appearance before Judge Susan Breall was Mirkarimi’s first in the legal case stemming from an incident with his wife on New Year’s Eve. His attorney, Robert Waggener, entered the pleas to each of the charges on behalf of the sheriff.

Mirkarimi is charged with one count of domestic violence battery, one count of child endangerment, and one count of dissuading a witness. Both he and his wife Eliana Lopez, a former Venezuelan telenovela star, have repeatedly denied the charges since the scandal broke Thursday, January 5. Lopez was in the courtroom today.

The former District 5 supervisor is accused of allegedly grabbing his wife during a New Year’s Eve incident that reportedly left marks on her arm. A neighbor called police to report the incident, and police inspectors obtained a search warrant and confiscated a video reported to contain evidence of Lopez’s injuries as well as a cell phone with text messages confirming what occurred.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 19, 2012 @ 4:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Out Assemblyman Rich Gordon announces 2012 re-election bid

Openly gay Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) made his re-election campaign official today (Thursday, January 19). He is one of three gay incumbents seeking re-election to the Legislature’s lower house this year.

“Over the last year, it has been an honor to represent the residents of the Peninsula. I am proud of what we have accomplished, in particular on issues regarding the environment and government efficiency. Yet there is still much more work to be done,’ stated Gordon in a press release sent to reporters.

The former San Mateo County supervisor is seeking election to the newly configured 24th Assembly District. The Peninsula seat covers Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, the San Mateo County Coast (El Granada to the San Cruz County Line), Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale.

Gordon is expected to easily recapture his seat, and in a move to deter any significant challengers from jumping into the race, he issued an impressive list of endorsers backing his re-election bid.

Local leaders supporting Gordon include Congresswomen Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) and Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), state Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), Assembly members Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), and openly gay Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager. The statewide LGBT lobbyist group Equality California and California Professional Firefighters have also given Gordon early backing.

His statement plugged the fact that Gordon was the most productive legislator in Sacramento last year, with 15 of his 19 bills signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. He currently chairs the Assembly’s Budget Subcommittee on Resources and Transportation and serves on the Budget, Health, Local Government, Joint Sunset Review, and Revenue & Taxation committees. He also co-chairs the Bay Area Caucus and is a member of the Environmental Caucus and LGBT caucus, which he was named the chair of this week.

For more information about his campaign, visit richgordon2012.com.

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


D9 Supervisor David Campos files for re-election

Gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos pulled papers today (Tuesday, January 17) to run for re-election.

Business and labor leaders, as well as residents of his Mission-centered district, joined Campos at noon at City Hall to witness him turning in his forms at the Department of Elections office.

“I am proud of the work I have accomplished over the last four years,” stated Campos. “District 9 is one of the most culturally diverse areas of our city. I am honored to represent the District and look forward to earning a second term this November 6th.”

The move had been expected, as Campos told the Bay Area Reporter earlier this month that he planned to seek another four-year term.  He had been facing one opponent, Benjamin Castaneda, a 23-year-old, according to the city’s Ethics Commission. Castaneda told the B.A.R. he is bisexual and no longer intends to oppose Campos.

Helping Campos with his campaign will be the newly launched consulting firm of Durning, Santore & Davis, LLC. One of the firm’s founders, Tim Durning, has been a longtime leader of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.

The other co-founders are Elaine Santore, who has covered local politics for several online sites, and political consultant Glenn Davis.

It is expected that Campos will easily win re-election to his board seat. And he is mentioned as a possible contender in 2014 to succeed gay state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who will be termed out of his seat.

 

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 17, 2012 @ 1:07 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Meeting January 18 to focus on SOMA entertainment zoning along 11th Street

Protecting nightlife along 11th Street in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood while also allowing for more residential construction in the area is heating up as a key concern for SOMA residents and entertainment officials.

The block between Folsom and Harrison Streets is home to numerous nightclubs and restaurants. The area has been a late-night party destination for decades and has seen a rejuvenation of late.

The DNA Lounge, long home to gay dance parties, is expanding this year into the adjacent building, which houses a pizza restaurant the club’s owners bought in early 2011 and renamed DNA Pizza. The Planning Commission endorsed the plans Thursday, January 12.

Across the street is the club Beatbox. Opened last summer, it has quickly become a go to place for LGBT party promoters to host events.

But the concentration of venues could be threatened due to SOMA’s rebirth into a residential and technology hub. As developers eye new parcels to construct condos and firms look for space to expand, ideas differ on how to protect 11th Street’s entertainment offerings. Some are calling for the area to be designated an entertainment zone that would restrict new housing from being built there.

“I have absolutely endorsed an entertainment zone for 11th Street,” said gay Entertainment Commissioner Glendon Hyde, also known as drag queen Anna Conda. “It is time to really be loud and proud about our culture and make sure it doesn’t disappear for condos.”

Newly seated gay Entertainment Commissioner Bryant Tan told the Bay Area Reporter this week he needs more information about the issue before he endorses any proposal.

“I am really open to hearing multiple perspectives,” said Tan. “I think there is a healthy way where residents and nightclubs can live side by side.”

The Western SOMA Task Force, which has been working on a rezoning of the area, rejected calls for an entertainment zone for a variety of reasons.

“We didn’t move to designate it an entertainment zone but we do want to preserve the existing clubs,” said Jim Meko, chair of the SOMA Leadership Council who has helped oversee the drafting of the new zoning.

The rezoning proposal, known as the Western SOMA Plan, is expected to go up for a vote later this year or sometime in 2013. It recommends that entertainment be left as a legal, non-conforming use in the mixed-use neighborhoods north of Harrison Street and that zoning south of Harrison Street be changed to make all forms of entertainment a fully permitted use.

It also would, if adopted, grant the non-conforming status that every existing venue holds remain with the property for a reasonable length of time following demolition of the building so that it could be built into new construction. Under the proposed plans, accessory forms of entertainment would be allowed in the Folsom Street Neighborhood Commercial District.

“The question is where do you allow for new clubs,” said Meko, a former entertainment commissioner. “We are proposing that south of Harrison Street be for new clubs with no housing. North of Harrison Street we are calling for an increase in housing.”

City planners would like to see up to 4,000 new housing units be built in western SOMA over the next 20 years, said Meko.

“We want to cluster them around Folsom Street to help jumpstart the business corridor,” he said.

But Hyde and others are concerned that the existing clubs will be forced to relocate as their buildings could be turned into housing.

An entertainment zone is needed, said Hyde, “because housing and clubs don’t mix and you get problems.”

The issue will be the subject of a public meeting the SOMA Leadership Council is hosting next week. Dennis Juarez from Slim’s nightclub and SOMA resident Gayle Rubin will facilitate the discussion on how to address entertainment venues under the new zoning plan.

It will begin at 6 p.m., Wednesday, January 18 in the community room of the Folsom/Dore Apartments, 1346 Folsom Street (between 9th and 10th Streets).

 

 

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 13, 2012 @ 2:40 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Man beaten, robbed in anti-gay attack near SF State

Three men beat and robbed another man in an anti-gay hate crime near San Francisco State University early this morning (Wednesday, January 11), according to police.

Police said the incident occurred at about 2:10 a.m. at Font and Tapia streets.

According to Officer Carlos Manfredi, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman, the suspects pulled up next to the victim in their car and called him a faggot.

The three men got out of their car and punched the victim several times. One of the suspects took the victim’s cell phone before fleeing with the other men.

The victim, 20, was treated at the scene. Police didn’t list any specific injuries in their summary.

The suspects’ car was described as a tan or cream-colored 4-door sedan.

All three suspects were described as 20 to 25 years old.

The first suspect is black, 5 feet 9 inches, and 140 pounds. He was wearing an olive, button-down, long-sleeve shirt with a crewneck undershirt, a beige bandana, and a thin goatee.

The second suspect is white, 5 feet 10 inches, and 150 pounds. He was wearing a baggy hoodie with baseball diamond print and baggy blue jean.

The third suspect is Hispanic, 5 feet 8 inches, and 160 pounds. He was wearing a tan shirt and baggy pants.

Manfredi said police don’t know whether the victim is actually gay, and there don’t appear to have been any witnesses.

Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call the special investigations division at (415) 553-1133, the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The incident number is 120 027 766.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 11, 2012 @ 6:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Oakland Mayor Jean Quan likely to pick LGBT port commissioner this summer

In a brief interview with the Bay Area Reporter Sunday at San Francisco City Hall, while attending Mayor Ed Lee’s swearing in ceremony, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan expressed support for seeing an LGBT person be named to her city’s powerful Port Commission.

But Quan (pictured below) hinted that an out commissioner likely would not be appointed until later this summer.

The B.A.R. broke the news last week that Michael Lighty, a gay man who was the first out person to be named a port commissioner, had resigned because his work schedule had prevented him from attending meetings. Lighty is the director of public policy for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

He tendered his resignation Tuesday, January 3. The next day gay Planning Commissioner Michael Colbruno informed Quan’s office that he was interested in being named Lighty’s replacement.

While supportive of seeing another LGBT person serve on the oversight body, Quan said her key criteria for selecting an appointee to Lighty’s seat is that the person has maritime experience, something that is lacking on the resumes of the current commissioners.

“I am looking for a person with more maritime experience. Right now there is no one on the port commission who has a maritime background,” said Quan. “I would love it if I could have a twofer,” meaning an LGBT person with strong maritime credentials.

She quickly added that she will have a chance to nominate two more people to the port commission this summer and is committed to seeing diverse appointees be named. It is expected Colbruno will be named to one of the seats with terms that expire this July 11.

A political consultant whose past clients included port tenants, such as Clear Channel Outdoors and the airport, Colbruno gained some experience dealing with maritime issues in the late 1990s when he served as the legislative director in Sacramento for lesbian former Assemblywoman Carole Migden, who served on the Assembly Select Committee on Ports.

But that likely doesn’t meet the selection criteria Quan has set. She said Sunday that she “hasn’t had a lot of time” to think about the vacancy.

Oakland’s LGBT community is expected to keep up the pressure on Quan to indeed name an out port appointee, as it fought hard to get Lighty named to the oversight body in 2010. Lesbian At-Large City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan has already endorsed seeing Colbruno be appointed, as has Lighty.

Over the weekend he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he has asked the mayor “to consider a gay-lesbian appointment because that was really the impetus for mine, and I’m just hoping that continues.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 9, 2012 @ 5:03 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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