Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

SF filmmaker seeks donors for film about longtime AIDS survivors

AIDS and aging film picA San Francisco-based filmmaker is seeking the public’s financial support for a documentary about longtime AIDS survivors living in Palm Springs.

Titled Desert Migration, the film will focus on a diverse group of gay, HIV positive men over the age of 50 who are living out their golden years in the southern California city long home to LGBT retirees and vacationers. Production on the film started in October and is slated to begin again in March.

The film is being co-produced by Academy-Award nominated producer Marc Smolowitz, whose production company is 13th Gen, and Palm Springs filmmaker Daniel F. Cardone, who runs Best Revenge Productions. Cardone is directing the film.

Smolowitz runs the nonprofit HIV Story Project, which is providing fiscal sponsorship for the film. It has produced two previous AIDS-related films: the 2011 release Still Around and last year’s Keep the Promise: The Global Fight Against AIDS.

The two filmmakers have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo aimed at raising $30,000 toward their production costs by this Saturday. As of Monday, January 6 they had netted close to $10,000.

“We’re really excited to be working with Daniel to create this important, ground breaking film,” stated Smolowitz. “His past work is exceptional, and we know Desert Migration is going to be a stunning installment in documentary filmmaking about HIV/AIDS, one that is poised for tremendous
success among broad audiences.”

A trailer for the film can be viewed on YouTube.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 6, 2014 @ 3:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Signage for SF meadow named after late gay political aide to be dedicated Saturday

Courtesy SF rec and park

                                Courtesy SF rec and park

Nearly three decades after San Francisco named a public meadow in honor of a local gay political pioneer, signage to alert park goers of the recognition will be dedicated this weekend.

The ceremony to unveil the new sign denoting the Bill Kraus Meadow and Pathway in Corona Heights Park will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 11 at the city-owned open space. The entrance to the meadow is located at the corner of Museum and Roosevelt ways.

Details for the event are still being finalized. It will occur on the anniversary of Kraus’ death in 1986 at the age of 38. Kraus had battled AIDS and contracted meningitis a few weeks prior to his death.

The Midwest transplant worked as a campaign adviser and political aide starting in the mid 1970s for progressive politicians such as the late gay Supervisor Harvey Milk, his successor, Supervisor Harry Britt, and late Congress members Phillip and Sala Burton. Saturday mornings Kraus would often head to Corona Heights Park to strategize and catch up with friends.

While a memorial bench with a plaque bearing Kraus’s name was installed in the protected green space, until now there had not been anything declaring that the meadow and pathway were named after him.

Last year John Mehring, who had known Kraus through the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, organized a group of volunteers, unofficially dubbed the Friends and Supporters of Bill Kraus, to raise money and petition parks officials, as well as boosters of Corona Heights Park, to support erecting proper signage at the park.

The memorial sign will be attached to the back of the Recreation and Parks Department’s trail sign at the entrance to the park from Roosevelt Way.

“On Friday, I saw the memorial sign in the shop where it was made … and it looks wonderful!” wrote Mehring in an email sent Sunday, January 5 announcing the dedication ceremony.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:09 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Supreme Court halts Utah marriages

After two weeks of same-sex couples receiving marriage licenses in Utah, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, January 6 ordered a halt to the nuptials, granting the state a stay while the court case is appealed.

The court issued its stay Monday morning, apparently after Justice Sonia Sotomayor referred the matter to the full court. Sotomayor is the justice designated to administer requests for emergency stays for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but had the option to ask the full court to weigh in on the request.

It takes at least five justices to grant such a stay. The order issued today does not indicate that any justice was in dissent. It states simply that the stay is granted and that the December 20 order by U.S. District Court that prohibited Utah from enforcing its ban is “stayed pending final disposition” of the appeal of that decision to the 10th Circuit. Given the 10th Circuit’s briefing schedule for the appeal, that means the ban will be in force for at least three months and likely longer, given anticipated appeals of whatever the 10th Circuit decides.

Peggy Tomsic and James Magleby, with the private law firm of Magleby and Greenwood that is representing same-sex couples in the case, issued a statement following the Supreme Court’s announcement, noting that it is “not unusual” for the court to stay a decision declaring a state law unconstitutional pending appeal and has “no bearing on who will win on appeal.”

LGBT legal activists agreed.

“No one should draw any negative inferences about where the court is leaning. This is an unprecedented situation,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which has several marriage equality lawsuits pending. “Never before has a federal court struck down a state marriage law and then declined to stay it, and never before has a Court of Appeals also declined to issue a stay. For those reasons, the chances that the Supreme Court would issue a stay until the appeal is resolved were always quite high, so the real news here is that so many marriages were able to take place. And it is significant that the court did not rush to act. There is nothing unusual about the issuance of a stay when a federal court strikes down a state law on federal grounds.

“Bottom line,” said Minter, “[is] the prospects for this case still look very bright. And there will never be any going back in Utah.”

The challenge to Utah’s ban (the state constitutional Amendment 3 and related statutes), Kitchen v. Herbert, now proceeds as Herbert v. Kitchen on an expedited schedule before the 10th Circuit. The next briefing date, according to Tomsic, is January 27. The last brief due before oral argument is February 25. The court date has not yet been announced but the next argument session after that deadline is March 17-21.

The Deseret News reports that more than 900 same-sex couples married since December 20, when District Judge Robert Shelby, an Obama appointee, issued a 53-page opinion, striking down Utah’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Shelby immediately enjoined the state from enforcing its ban, then denied the state’s request for a stay of his decision pending appeal. The state took its request for an emergency stay to the 10th Circuit, where it also filed an appeal of Shelby’s decision. Two judges of the 10th Circuit – one an appointee of President George W. Bush, the other an appointee of Obama – denied the request for a stay on December 24 but put the appeal on an expedited schedule.

“This stay is obviously disappointing for the families in Utah who need the protection of marriage and now have to wait to get married until the appeal is over,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Magleby. “Every day that goes by, same-sex couples and their children are being harmed by not being able to marry and be treated equally.”

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, @ 9:24 am PST
Filed under: News

Judge orders CA Secretary of State to count anti-trans signatures

A Sacramento Superior Court Judge has ordered the California Secretary of State’s office to count petition signatures that anti-trans activists had submitted in two counties in their effort to repeal a new law designed to protect transgender students.

Assembly Bill 1266 went into effect January 1. The Privacy for All Students coalition hopes it’s submitted enough signatures to get a referendum before voters in November 2014 that would undo the law.

The law aims to make sure that transgender youth can fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities that match their gender identity. Gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) authored the bill, which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in August.

The anti-trans coalition filed a lawsuit in December, claiming in a news release that “the secretary of state is unfairly refusing to count any of the signatures presented to Tulare or Mono counties in support of a referendum to overturn” AB 1266. (Those counties’ registrars of voters are also defendants in the suit.)

The group missed the deadlines that had been established for submitting signatures in the two counties, but the coalition essentially claimed it wasn’t at fault.

Ann Turner, the Tulare County registrar’s elections division manager, recently said her agency ultimately received the coalition’s signatures, and a raw count showed the activists had submitted 4,889 signatures. The office reported that “rough estimate” to the secretary of state’s office, which called for a random sampling, she said. Out of the 500 signatures sampled, 79.2 percent, or 396, were considered valid. That figure was reported to the secretary of state, which made the “determination to record a zero” for the county, according to Turner.

Mono County Registrar Lynda Roberts said just after the lawsuit was filed that she wasn’t aware of it and couldn’t comment.

Evan Goldberg, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said Friday (January 3), “The judge ruled that the signatures from those two counties must be counted, even though they were delivered after the deadline. The secretary of state has decided to comply with the judge’s order.”

In the coalition’s news release, referendum proponent Gina Gleason stated, “It is a shame that we had to go to court to assure that the citizens of Tulare and Mono would not be disenfranchised by the arbitrary actions of the secretary of state.”

According to the coalition, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner “concluded that PFAS actually had until Tuesday, November 12, to file the petitions, due to the weekend and the Monday holiday.” Officials had held that the deadline was November 10.

Elections staff are currently performing random sample verification of the signatures, and that process will be completed by January 8.

The coalition must ultimately reach 504,760 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. If they reach 110 percent of that by January 8, or 555,237 signatures, the referendum qualifies, and the new law will be suspended until November. Otherwise, if the coalition just reaches 95 percent of the lower number, a full count of the signatures will be ordered, and the law will not be suspended until the referendum qualifies.

If the random samples determine the coalition only hits 95 percent, or 479,522 signatures, then the referendum won’t qualify. The coalition submitted more than 600,000 petition signatures to elections officials last month.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 3, 2014 @ 5:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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