Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Judge strikes down Virginia marriage ban

A federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia, struck down the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying but stayed the execution of her order that it stop enforcing the law, pending appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Arenda Wright Allen (an Obama appointee) opened her 41-page decision with a quote from a book by Mildred Loving, the African American woman who won a lawsuit striking down bans against interracial couples marrying.

“We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is?” wrote Loving in Loving for All.

In an eloquent, history-laden opinion, Allen acknowledged that a “spirited and controversial debate is under way” regarding same-sex couples marrying, but added, “Our Constitution declares that ‘all men’ are created equal. Surely this means all of us.” She said the ban violates the rights to due process and equal protection and deprives same-sex couples of the fundamental freedom to choose to marry.

“Although steeped in a rich, tradition- and faith-based legacy, Virginia’s marriage laws are an exercise of governmental power,” wrote Allen. “For those who choose to marry, and for their children, Virginia’s laws ensure that marriage provides profound legal, financial, and social benefits, and exacts serious legal, financial, and social obligations. The government’s involvement in defining marriage, and in attaching benefits that accompany the institution, must withstand constitutional scrutiny. Laws that fail that scrutiny must fall despite the depth and legitimacy of the laws’ religious heritage.”

The case, Bostic v. Virginia, was argued by Ted Olson, David Boies, and a team supported by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the same group that pressed the successful challenge against California’s statewide ban, Proposition 8.

– Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, February 14, 2014 @ 9:14 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

SF jury finds man guilty of Pink Saturday face kick


San Francisco police released this photo as they searched for Christopher Porter-Bailey last July. A jury convicted Porter-Bailey February 13 of assault and other charges. (Photo: SFPD)

The man accused of kicking a woman in the face just after he helped rob her following last year’s Pink Saturday party has been found guilty of charges including assault and second-degree robbery by a San Francisco jury. (The jury hung on a misdemeanor assault charge involving another victim.)

Christopher Porter-Bailey, 23, was convicted Thursday, February 13 in San Francisco Superior Court for the attack, which occurred June 30 outside the Mint Karaoke Lounge, 1942 Market Street. Porter-Bailey was arrested in July after police released a video of the incident that went viral.

Porter-Bailey’s victim, Emily, who asked that only her first name be published, watched the trial this week.

During a break, she said watching the proceedings was “extremely emotional” and “really intense.”

“It’s definitely not easy to do,” she said.

Emily, 28, said she was at the trial, which included video of her attack being shown repeatedly, because Porter-Bailey “changed my life forever, and I feel like going through this process and standing up for myself will help to bring me some closure. … He hurt me really bad, but I’m strong enough to do this.”

Going through the process “is allowing me to reclaim my life and reclaim my independence,” said Emily, who was knocked unconscious during the incident and said she was left with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Emily, who lives in San Francisco and describes herself as a straight ally, said she’d not attended the 2013 Pink Saturday celebration, which had ended just a couple hours before she was attacked at about 2 a.m. June 30. She’d gone to the Mint instead. It was the first time she hadn’t gone to the street party in years.

On the night before the LGBT Pride celebration and parade each year, the streets of the gay Castro district are shut down the Pink Saturday festival, which is attended by thousands of people.

A woman who said she’s Porter-Bailey’s mother also attended the trial before Judge Julie Tang this week, but declined to comment.

After the verdict, Erwin Fredrich, Porter-Bailey’s attorney, said, “I have no comment at this time.”

Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Harris-Sutton prosecuted the case. The next hearing in the case is Friday, February 14.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 13, 2014 @ 5:38 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF company offers Valentine’s Day condom deliveries

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the San Francisco-based company L Condoms is offering to deliver condoms to people’s doorsteps in an hour or less.

Deliveries will begin Friday, February 14. A 12-pack costs $15. There’s a flat fee of $5 for delivery. On Valentine’s Day, customers will have the option to add a bouquet of flowers to their delivery.

“[A]rguably the best part” of the offer “is the fact you don’t need to leave your home, or wherever you’re getting it on,” to get the condoms, the company said in a news release.

L Condoms delivers their products in an unlabeled box by a bike messenger. The service is available through for delivery in San Francisco and Los Angeles. A free app is planned for this spring that will expand the services to other cities.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:42 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Former SF Mayor Gavin Newsom receives key to the city for backing marriage equality

Mayor Ed Lee, left, presents former mayor Gavin Newsom a key to the city and county of San Francisco. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Mayor Ed Lee, left, presents former mayor Gavin Newsom with a key to the city and     county of San Francisco.                             Photo: Rick Gerharter

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee surprised his former boss, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, with the key to the city Wednesday night to honor his leadership in the fight for marriage equality.

The presentation came during a celebration the two straight politicians held under the historic rotunda of City Hall last night (February 12) to mark the the 10th anniversary of when Newsom, who was mayor at the time, decided to allow same-sex couples to marry despite state laws banning such ceremonies.

Known as the “Winter of Love,” San Francisco officials wed 4,037 couples over the course of four weeks in February and March of 2004 early in Newsom’s mayoralty. His decision is now heralded as jump-starting a national conversation about same-sex marriage that has led to 17 states and the District of Columbia allowing same-sex couples to wed, with more than a dozen lawsuits seeking to overturn anti-gay marriage laws in states across the country.

In presenting Newsom with the over-sized gold key, Lee said it was to honor his “being a champion of civil rights in our city.”

A genuinely surprised Newsom responded, “I didn’t see this coming. That’s great, that’s great. It’s surreal, all those years for handing these things out, it means a lot.”

Newsom thanked the couples who flocked to the city a decade ago to marry for their “courage” to do so, noting that otherwise “we wouldn’t be here.”

He joked that he “didn’t want to politicize” the marriages, which many derisively called a political stunt at the time, so he “remained in my office” away from the media spotlight throughout much of those four weeks. Newsom privately wed just three couples, two being those of top aides, in 2004.

The California Supreme Court annulled the 2004 weddings but opened the door for a legal challenge to the state’s homophobic marriage statutes. City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office took the lead on that litigation, leading to the court’s 2008 ruling declaring LGBT people had a right to legally marry.

(The decision prompted the passage of Proposition 8 in November of 2008 and federal litigation aimed at overturning the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage the voters had passed. Last June the U. S. Supreme Court struck down Prop 8 on a technicality.)

Jewelle Gomez and her wife, Diane Sabin, married in 2004 and were a party to one of four state lawsuits filed by same-sex couples seeking the right to marriage in the Golden State. Speaking at last night’s celebration, Gomez thanked the numerous city staffers, from county clerks to janitors and peace officers, for their unsung efforts during the Winter of Love.

“You were our guardian angels,” said Gomez. “They weren’t all queer people, they were people who worked here and felt a part of the city and county of San Francisco.”

Noting that the fight for marriage equality remains a global endeavor, Gomez said “there is still work to do until Sochi becomes a queer wedding and honeymoon retreat as it should be.”

Photo: Matthew S. Bajko

                 Photo: Matthew S. Bajko

It was a reference to the 2014 Winter Olympics currently being held in the Russian resort on the Black Sea and the controversial anti-gay laws Russian leaders adopted last year that that makes it a crime to “promote” homosexuality to minors and bans international adoptions by same-sex couples and unmarried people in countries with marriage equality.

In protest of the laws, Lee said the facade of City Hall will remain bathed in rainbow-colored lights throughout the duration of the Olympic games, which come to a close Sunday, February 23.

“The lights will continue to shine through the last day of the Sochi Olympics,” Lee declared last night.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 11:26 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

AIDS agency combining Castro pharmacies into one space

AHF Church St pharm 2A Los Angeles-based AIDS agency is in the process of combining it’s two San Francisco pharmacies into one location in the city’s gay Castro District.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation operates a pharmacy and HIV testing site at 100 Church Street, adjacent to its Out of the Closet thrift store (seen at right).

It also owns the pharmacy at 4071 18th Street, which was formerly known as a MOMS Pharmacy. AHF acquired the HIV/AIDS specialty pharmacy chain in 2012 and re-branded it a year ago.

It is working with city officials to acquire the necessary permits to relocate the pharmacies into 518A Castro Street. The location had previously housed Under One Roof, a nonprofit store that funnels proceeds to local HIV agencies.

Last fall AHF rented the vacant storefront to house the campaign headquarters for its ballot initiative Prop D. The nonbinding measure, which passed with 80 percent of the vote, makes it city policy for officials to continue to directly negotiate with drug manufacturers for cheaper prescription drug prices, including those used to treat HIV and AIDS.

The owner of the property is also its landlord at the 18th Street pharmacy.

“We want to consolidate our two pharmacies in the Castro,” said Dale Gluth, AHF’s Bay Area regional director. “We also plan to relocate some medical offices in the back of the space.”

Like it has down with the old MOMS Pharmacy space, AHF intends to use the new location’s front area for community meetings and other events.

It is unclear how much longer AHF’s Out of the Closet store will remain at the Church Street location. Maitri hospice, which is located on the upper floor, owns the building and filed a suit against AHF for unpaid rent.

As the Bay Area Reporter disclosed in a recent article, AHF had not paid its rent since last August and was seeking “unlimited” damages over $25,000, according to the civil complaint filed in October in San Francisco Superior Court. AHF had rented the storefront for more than a decade.

The dispute stemmed from a rent increase Maitri was seeking that AHF felt was unfair. According to court records, the two sides have yet to settle the matter but are reportedly close to a deal.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 7, 2014 @ 2:29 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Patio Cafe owner wants to open a Hamburger Mary’s in long dormant Castro space

The Hamburger's Mary's in West Hollywood.

The Hamburger’s Mary’s in West Hollywood.

The owner of the long dormant Patio Cafe eatery in the heart of San Francisco’s gay Castro district wants to open a Hamburger Mary’s at the location.

The national burger chain launched in the city’s South of Market neighborhood in 1972 and quickly gained a loyal LGBT following. While that location shut down in 2001, there are now 12 Hamburger Mary’s restaurants across the country, particularly in southern California and Florida, according to the company’s website.

In November Les Natali, who battled the city’s planning department for a decade over zoning issues as he remodeled the 531 Castro Street restaurant space, obtained all necessary permits last August to reopen the Patio space.

In November he sought the city zoning administrator’s opinion on whether Hamburger Mary’s falls under the city’s formula retail rules that require any chain with 11 or more locations nation-wide to seek a conditional use permit to open a new location in San Francisco.

According to the company’s website, in 2007 the Hamburger Mary’s franchise system was sold to Dale Warner in West Hollywood and brothers Ashley and Brandon Wright in Chicago. With successful franchise locations of their own, they also seek out local franchisees in order to meet their goal of bringing a Hamburger Mary’s franchise “to every major city in the country.”

In late January Zoning Administrator Scott F. Sanchez ruled that Natali would need to seek permit approval from the Planning Commission as Hamburger Mary’s does qualify as a formula retail business.

In response to questions from the Bay Area Reporter this week, Natali said he had decided to go forward with the application for conditional use authorization to open a Hamburger Mary’s at the Patio Cafe.

In an email he sent today (Thursday, February 6), to the B.A.R. and a Castro neighborhood group, Natali wrote that he had asked his attorney to begin the planning approval process and to schedule a neighborhood meeting at the earliest possible date.

“I am looking forward to opening Hamburger Mary’s at the Patio Cafe as soon as possible, and I am hopeful I can have your support and the support of the neighborhood,” wrote Natali.

He said he had hoped to avoid having to go through an additional permit approval process as he felt Hamburger Mary’s was not “a typical” formula retail business.

“Each of the Hamburger Mary’s 11 locations in the U.S. is locally-owned and operated as a neighborhood establishment,” wrote Natali. “A new San Francisco Hamburger Mary’s would be unique – as was the original Hamburger Mary’s on Folsom Street.”

In his initial request to the zoning administrator, Natali wrote that the Castro restaurant “would not look like any other Hamburger Mary’s.” It would look “virtually the same” as the Patio Cafe currently looks, he added.

“The facade of the Patio Cafe will remain as it is, the only thing that will change is the name. ‘Hamburger Mary’s’ would replace the name ‘Patio Cafe’ on the existing sign,” wrote Natali. “There would be no Hamburger Mary’s logo signage, no change in building facade, no change in awning.”

As for the interior of the Patio Cafe that would remain “as it is,” wrote Natali.

“We would add some artwork and some ‘antique’ items on the walls, and we may
change the interior paint color,” he states in his letter. “We will display the Hamburger Mary’s name in the interior, however the signage would not be a standardized or logo signage. The signage will be specific to the San Francisco location.”

He also noted that Hamburger Mary’s employees are not required to wear logo clothing and that staff at the Castro location would have different outfits than found at the other locations.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 6, 2014 @ 1:23 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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