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

SF Catholic archbishop calls DOMA, Prop 8 decisions “tragic” for America

SF Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (Photo: Danny Buskirk)

SF Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
(Photo: Danny Buskirk)

San Francisco Catholic Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, one of the behind-the-scenes leaders of the 2008 campaign to end same-sex marriages in California, called today’s rulings for marriage equality “tragic” for America.

In a joint statement released by Cordileone, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the religious leaders called the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a part of the anti-gay federal Defense of Marriage Act and refusal to rule on the merits of the Prop 8 legal challenge “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.”

They called the ruling overturning DOMA’s Section 3, which had barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and other legal partnerships sanctioned at the state level, a profound injustice to the American people.”

“The Court got it wrong,” stated the men. “The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage.”

In a separate statement Catholic League leader Bill Donohue called for the adoption of a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the court’s decision on DOMA.

It is clear from today’s two rulings that the ball has been moved down the field to a point where the pro-gay marriage side is in the red zone,” stated Donohue. “Whether they can be stopped from crossing the goal line depends solely on the prospects of having a constitutional amendment affirming marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

He noted that getting the 38 states needed to pass such an amendment would not be a problem considering 38 states have passed their own laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman. The roadblock is in convincing two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to adopt it.

At last count 52 U.S. Senators had issued statements supporting marriage equality, so any effort to pass a federal constitutional amendment would likely be dead in the water.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports a federal marriage amendment. While their statement did not specify what next steps should be taken in reaction to the court’s rulings, Dolan and Cordileone called for those opposed to marriage equality to “stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life.”

They once again repeated claims, widely refuted by researchers, that children do better when raised in households led by a mother and father.

“The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage,” stated Dolan and Cordileone. “Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.”

Other religious leaders hailed the court’s actions today.

Soulforce Executive Director Reverend Cindi Love said, “The driving force behind the denial of marriage equality for same-sex relationships has always been misused religious belief. Today the Supreme Court said that individuals and their religious beliefs cannot prevail over the state in its responsibility to protect and defend the rights of its citizens.”

American Jewish World Service President Ruth Messinger also hailed the marriage equality legal victories.

“We applaud today’s historic decisions by the Supreme Court to strike down discriminatory laws as a major victory for equal rights for LGBTI people in the United States,” said Messinger. “We believe that this is one of the necessary steps to ensure that the human rights of people of all sexual orientations are respected everywhere in the world.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 26, 2013 @ 11:31 am PST
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Double victory in marriage cases

In a stunning double victory, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued decisions that strike down both the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.

The DOMA decision, a 5-4 split, was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by the four liberal justices of the court. It strikes DOMA as unconstitutional.

(Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the DOMA decision.)

(Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the DOMA decision.)

The DOMA dissent, based largely on matters of standing, was led by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s three other conservatives.

The Proposition 8 opinion, a 5-4 vote led by Roberts, vacates a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, saying Yes on 8 defenders of the law lacked standing as “private citizens” to make the appeal. The decision appears to leave intact the district
court decision, a much broader ruling.

The dissent was a surprise: Kennedy led two conservative justices plus liberal Sonia Sotomayor.

The court issued its decision in the two high-profile marriage cases just after 7 a.m. on June 26, the last day of its 2012-13 session.

The opinions in Hollingsworth v. Perry (concerning Proposition 8) and U.S. v. Windsor (concerning DOMA) can be read in their entirety at

Watch this site for more in-depth coverage, reaction, and analysis on the decisions.

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, @ 7:46 am PST
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DOMA struck down, Prop 8 case dismissed

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court held that DOMA is “unconstitutional as deprivation of equal liberty by persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

In the Prop 8 case, the court ruled 5-4 that the proponents of California’s same-sex marriage ban had no legal standing to appeal. The case was dismissed.

We will update soon.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 7:15 am PST
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Marriage decision events planned for SF, Oakland

Events are planned for Wednesday, June 26, the day the U.S. Supreme Court will announce its decisions in two marriage equality cases.

First, the public is invited to San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Wednesday to join Mayor Ed Lee and other officials in learning the court’s decisions. Doors will open to the public at 6:30 a.m. and the court’s justices are expected to share their opinions beginning at 7.

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and members of the Board of  Supervisors will be among those joining Lee.

A press conference will immediately follow the decision.  Live broadcasting of the press conference will be available on SFGovTV, Cable Channel 26 and live streaming available at

The marriage decisions involve California’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban, which is the subject of the Hollingsworth v. Perry lawsuit, and Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the anti-gay law at the heard of U.S. v. Windsor. Marriage equality supporters are hopeful that the court will find that both laws are unconstitutional.

Later Wednesday, people will also gather at 6:30 p.m. in the Castro Wednesday for a Day of Decision event, which is being organized by March4Equality and Marriage Equality USA.

“The Prop 8 & DOMA cases are fundamentally about whether [LGBT] Americans should have the same freedoms as everyone else,” organizers said on their Facebook page. “Momentum for marriage equality is growing rapidly across the nation – regardless of one’s age, race, religious and party affiliation.”

The event will feature performances at Castro and 19th streets by DJ Bryan Hughes, drag queen Tara Wrist, emcee Donna Sachet, and others.

In Oakland on Wednesday, the One Love Queerbilee celebration will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Uptown Art Park on Telegraph at 19th Street, with an after party at Bench and Bar, 510 17th Street.

“Join us for dancing in the streets (or possibly protests, depending on the ruling),” organizers said on their Facebook page. For the celebration, DJ Olga is expected to provide entertainment. There will also be a ‘Married for a Day’ photo booth sponsored by Here Comes the Pride, food trucks, and T-shirt painting.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 25, 2013 @ 2:12 pm PST
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EQCA moving into SF LGBT center

eqca375x410-375x400Equality California is moving its San Francisco staff into the city’s LGBT Community Center.

The statewide LGBT advocacy group has long housed its main Bay Area office in the second-floor of a building closer to the heart of the gayborhood at 2370 Market Street above H&R Block. But the location was not wheelchair accessible, and in April, someone broke into the office and stole several computers.

On Monday, June 24 the staff will open the new office inside the community center at 1800 Market Street in Suite 401. The room is part of a warren of small offices built on the center’s top floor meant to be rented by local LGBT groups.

According to an EQCA press release, the relocation will reduce its overhead costs and allow it to better collaborate with other community-based organizations.

“The center is a landmark for the LGBT community in San Francisco, and we will be proud to work side-by-side with other LGBT community organizations,” stated EQCA Executive Director John O’Connor.  “We are grateful to the center for making this arrangement possible.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 21, 2013 @ 11:49 am PST
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SF commission foils burrito chain’s Castro plans

New Chipotle mockupChipotle Mexican Grill has failed to convince San Francisco’s planning commission that it would be a good addition to the city’s gay Castro district.

The oversight body this evening (Thursday, June 20) voted 5-1 against allowing the Denver-based chain launched by former gay San Francisco chef Steve Ells to open at 2100 Market Street.

The former location of Home restaurant, the prominent corner at the intersection of Market, Church and 14th streets has been vacant since 2011. Chipotle’s announcement last summer that it planned to move into the space drew heated opposition and helped fuel calls for tighter controls on chain stores along Market Street.

With Starbucks’ plan to open up the block at another high-profile corner storefront, planning staff announced earlier this year they would oppose both companies’ permit applications. And working with neighborhood groups and gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, the planning department adopted new rules governing formula retail along Market between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street.

Any chain store that would bring the amount of formula retail within a 300-foot radius to 20 percent or higher would automatically be recommended for disapproval by planning staff. Last month Starbucks found its proposed fourth Castro location at 2201 Market Street rejected by the planning staff and commission due to it triggering the 20 percent rule.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a front-page article today, the Seattle-based coffee chain decided not to appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors.

As for Chipotle, planning staff calculated it would bring the percentage of formula retail to 36 percent, and thus, advised the planning commissioners to reject its permit request. Its fight to open in the Castro garnered the media’s attention, with front-page coverage in the SF Examiner and two segments on the local CBS affiliate.

After hearing public comment from both supporters and opponents of the burrito chain, the commission voted to follow the staff’s advice.

The company now has 30 days to file an appeal with the Board of Supervisors.

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 20, 2013 @ 6:31 pm PST
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Castro Street zoning change for nonprofits wins approval

San Francisco planning commissioners unanimously voted this afternoon (Thursday, June 20) to change the zoning in the heart of the city’s gayborhood to allow for nonprofits to move into large retail spaces.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported in early May, the code change was triggered by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s plan to construct a nearly 15,000 square foot gay men’s health center at 474 Castro Street. Under the current rules, only businesses are allowed to operate in Castro storefronts totaling more than 4,000 square feet.

Therefore, SFAF’s proposed health center would not be allowed without a change to the zoning.

Planning staff had recommended that the commission adopt the change so that a “neighborhood-serving nonprofit” could apply for a conditional use permit in a space exceeding the stated allowable limit. The supportive vote was not a surprise, as the zoning change had broad neighborhood support and was backed by gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener.

The new rules apply to storefronts along Castro Street between Market and 19th streets, and on 18th Street between Diamond and Noe streets.

The zoning change requires adoption by the Board of Supervisors, which is expected to sign off on it fairly soon. SFAF is currently finalizing its design plans for the new health center and is expected to seek approval from the planning commission sometime in July.

Magnet director Steve Gibson and Pierre Barral with Gensler Architects show off preliminary designs for a new gay men's health center in the Castro. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Magnet director Steve Gibson and Pierre Barral with Gensler Architects show off preliminary designs for a new gay men’s health center in the Castro.
(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

As the B.A.R. noted in a blog post in early June, SFAF officials have been working with Gensler Architects to refine the design for the remodel of 474 Castro Street, formerly home to Superstar Video and a number of medical offices on the second floor.

The latest ititeration calls for “big ass doors” made out of wood that would look popped open as a symbol of SFAF’s desire that the new health center be open and inviting to the community. A set of smaller glass doors would serve as the actual entryway into the building.

The plans also call for a third floor addition to be built and a new balcony over the entrance to Blush wine bar, which will remain a tenant of the building. Once completed, SFAF will merge its gay men’s health center Magnet, the Stonewall Project, which provides drug counseling programs, and the Stop AIDS Project, which focuses on HIV prevention, into the new location.

It has signed a 10-year lease for the building and needs to raise $8 and $10 million to cover the construction costs.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:51 pm PST
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SF Milk club to honor Bradley Manning at annual gala

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning

The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club will honor WikiLeaks leaker gay Army Private First Class Bradley Manning at its annual gala dinner later this summer.

San Francisco’s progressive queer political group, named after the city’s first openly gay supervisor, announced it is honoring Manning with its In His Footsteps Award in an email blast to members today (Thursday, June 20).

The move comes amid the ongoing controversy over the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee’s decision to rescind naming Manning, 25, a grand marshal at this year’s parade, which will take place Sunday, June 30.

As the Bay Area Reporter has been covering since the brouhaha began in late April, local supporters of Manning have held demonstrations, crowded a Pride board meeting, and packed a community forum last month to demand that Pride’s board reinstate him as a grand marshal. The Pride board ultimately voted to stand by its decision to not honor Manning, whose improper nomination and selection was blamed on a Pride staffer who was subsequently fired.

Both this year’s Dyke March and Trans March plan to honor Manning, whose fate now rests with a military judge overseeing his court-martial at Fort Meade, Maryland. And a large contingent of Manning supporters is expected to walk in the Pride parade.

“I believe that Bradley represents the highest aspirations of our movement and is a Queer hero,” Joey Cain, a former SF Pride board president and past grand marshal, wrote in an emailed invite sent today asking people to join the Manning contingent. “In the same way that Harry Hay or Harvey Milk are, I think he is a great role model for young LGBTQ kids and he represents the best of what being LGBTQ is all about.”

The Milk club’s decision to honor Manning came as no surprise. Its members and leadership have been vocal critics of Pride’s handling of the matter. One email from the club criticized SF Pride for its “disgraceful and libelous treatment of Bradley Manning and its disregard for the Grand Marshal selection process.”

The club’s “gayla” marking its 37th year will have a military theme to it, as the keynote speaker will be gay Lieutenant Dan Choi. The Army infantry officer and Arabic language specialist was discharged back in 2010 for publicly stating he was a homosexual, when the armed service’s ban against openly gay and lesbian service members was still in effect.

Choi, 32, was named a celebrity grand marshal of the SF Pride parade in 2009 and has been a vocal backer of Manning’s. He himself was put on trail for chaining himself to a White House fence during a 2010 protest of the military’s anti-gay policy.

In March of this year a federal judge found him guilty of a misdemeanor and fined him $100.

Others being honored this year by the Milk club include former San Francisco sheriff Mike Hennessey, who will receive the Harry Britt Lifetime Achievement Award; state Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) will be given the Community Ally Award; and transgender activist Felicia Flames will be given the Bayard Rustin Civil Rights Award.

Labor leader Allan Baird will be the first recipient of the inaugural Howard Wallace Labor Leadership Award. Wallace, the first openly gay Teamster truck driver and a force behind the long-standing Coors boycott, was a longtime Milk club member who died in November at the age of 76.

The Milk club’s dinner and awards presentation will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 24th at Roccapulco Supper Club, 3140 Mission Street. Tickets cost $80 for general admission; $40 for students and low income people.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:21 pm PST
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SF planners reject gay-owned burrito chain’s Castro expansion plans

20130326_chipotle2_610x346As expected, San Francisco planners are recommending that the city’s planning commission reject Chipotle Mexican Grill’s plan to expand into the gay Castro district.

The burrito brawl has pit the city’s gay planning director John Rahaim against Steve Ells, the gay former San Francisco chef who founded the Denver-based chain in 1993 and is its chairman and co-CEO.

Ells’ company last year announced plans to open a Chipotle outlet at the former Home restaurant space at the corner of Church and Market Streets. But reaction in the gay neighborhood was overwhelmingly negative.

With a number of chain stores looking to open on prominent intersections along upper Market Street, neighborhood merchants and residents began to voice opposition to what they feared was a suburbanization of one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods. Rahaim also changed his tune regarding formula retail, and in February, announced his own misgivings to seeing prominent storefronts be given over to national retailers rather than locally-owned businesses.

Working with Castro groups, and the blessing of gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, the planning department devised a new regulation where it would recommend for disapproval any chain store seeking to open along Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street that brought the concentration of formula retail within a 300-foot radius to 20 percent or higher.

The new rule was adopted by the planning commission and led to a recent vote against Starbucks’ proposal to open a new coffeehouse at the corner of Market and Sanchez Streets.

Next Thursday, June 20 Chipotle is scheduled to go before  the oversight body. And if the Starbucks vote is any guide, it too will be voted down.

According to the staff report released today (Friday, June 14), a Chipotle at that corner would increase the formula retail commercial frontage to 1154.7 linear feet for a 36 percent concentration of formula retail uses.

In recommending that the planning commissioners reject Chipotle, the staff concluded that, “The project would be detrimental to the neighborhood by occupying a prominent corner lot with
a formula retail use that uses standardized color schemes, decor and signage that will detract
from the distinctive character of the Upper Market Neighborhood which includes primarily local,
independent retail businesses.”

Next Thursday’s Political Notebook in the Bay Area Reporter will have more about the fight over Chipotle as well as other zoning issues confronting the Castro.

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 14, 2013 @ 2:14 pm PST
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Petrelis accepts deal in Wiener photo case

Michael Petrelis (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

Michael Petrelis (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

Gay blogger Michael Petrelis is allowed limited access to San Francisco City Hall after pleading “No contest” to a charge stemming from his photograph of Supervisor Scott Wiener in a City Hall restroom.

Petrelis entered his plea today (Thursday, June 13) at a San Francisco Superior Court hearing before Judge Samuel Feng. In return, he agreed to a stay away order that’s less restrictive than one that had been issued earlier, among other terms.

Reading from a prepared statement, Petrelis said that he’d “made a mistake” when he took Wiener’s photo in October. “I recognize the mistake, and it will never happen again,” he said.

Wiener, who didn’t attend the hearing, declined to comment.

Petrelis, 54, has been critical of Wiener on many issues, including his legislation to prohibit most public nudity.

According to an earlier statement from Wiener and an item Petrelis posted on his Petrelis Files blog, Wiener was at a urinal when Petrelis walked into the restroom October 26. On his blog, Petrelis indicated he wanted to get a photo of Wiener urinating, but his camera didn’t focus quickly enough, so he took a picture of the gay supervisor at the bathroom sink. He used the photo on his website.

In December, the district attorney’s office charged him with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge, the same count to which he pleaded no contest today. (A no contest plea is similar to a guilty plea.) The count was based on Petrelis using a camera to invade someone’s privacy in a bathroom.

Thursday, Feng ordered the imposition of sentence suspended and three years of probation. The terms include a stay away order, which expires June 12, 2016, and says that Petrelis can’t contact Wiener or his offices by any means including email or through a third party.

Petrelis is also supposed to stay 150 feet away from Wiener and his home. (The original stay away order, issued in December, had mandated that Petrelis stay 150 yards away from Wiener.)

However, when Petrelis is on the second floor of City Hall – home to the Board of Supervisors chambers in Room 250 – he only has to stay at least 30 feet away from Wiener. He can access the second floor of City Hall for “lawful business” only, and he can’t use the second-floor restrooms.

He can attend meetings in Room 250, even when Wiener’s there, and he can make public comment at those meetings.

For other City Hall meetings, such as those of the Police Commission and others that take place on the fourth floor, Petrelis can’t attend if Wiener is there.

If Petrelis violates probation he may be sentenced to six months to a year in county jail.

Petrelis told the court Thursday that rather than taking up public time and money with a criminal prosecution, “it would have been better” for Wiener “to take me to task for my mistake via online social media,” or through a “far less costly” mediation guided by the city’s Human Rights Commission.

“I look forward to blogging freely about local politics” again and voting for whoever opposes Wiener if he runs to be reelected to the District 8 seat. Petrelis is a resident of the district.

After Thurday’s hearing, Petrelis said he’s “satisfied with this settlement.”

When he was asked about why he didn’t save taxpayers money earlier by accepting a deal, he said he and his attorney, Derek St. Pierre “are doing the taxpayers a favor by avoiding a trial,” and he said they were “not presented with this plea settlement until recently.”

St. Pierre said there had been “a lot of negotiations,” with the “most difficult” point being finding a stay away order that was “acceptable by both parties.”

As for any future encounters Petrelis and Wiener may have, St. Pierre noted, “San Francisco is a small city,” and “it’s almost inevitable that at some time they might be in the same location.” He pledged that if that happens, Petrelis will walk away.

Petrelis posted bail after he voluntarily surrendered to the sheriff’s department in November and has been out of custody since then.

Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Lee prosecuted the case.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 13, 2013 @ 5:21 pm PST
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