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

Breaking: Wiener launches CA Senate seat bid

Gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener made official this week his long expected run for a state Senate seat.

Wiener, 45, filed paperwork with state elections officials to begin raising money for his campaign to represent Senate District 11, which includes all of San Francisco and portions of northern San Mateo County. The current officeholder, gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), is termed out of office in 2016 and is endorsing Wiener to be his successor.

(Supervisor Scott Wiener. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Supervisor Scott Wiener. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

“I love serving on the Board of Supervisors. It’s been a tremendous honor to have worked very hard for my district and the city,” Wiener told the Bay Area Reporter in a phone interview Tuesday. “In terms of the work I do around transportation, housing, water, and health, I can, being in the state Senate, be so impactful in that role in helping not only the city and region but the state as a whole.”

Leno said the political colleagues, as well as friends, have known each other since at least 2002 when he first ran for an Assembly seat.

“I think Scott will make a terrific state senator. Supervisor Wiener has been a prolific and earnest legislator on the county board,” Leno told the B.A.R. “On complex issues such as transportation, health, civil rights, the environment, Supervisor Wiener has repeatedly demonstrated an uncommon understanding and command.”

“You can throw in his work ethic, his intelligence, and his tenacity,” added Leno. “Altogether, they suggest the constituents of District 11 will be well served.”

Wiener, a former San Francisco Democratic Party chair, plans to announce numerous endorsements from politicians, community leaders, and unions Wednesday morning when he publicly launches his Senate bid.

Among those on the list are Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma. All three Democrats are former local San Francisco elected officials.

Both City Attorney Dennis Herrera, for whom Wiener once worked, and District Attorney George Gascon are backing Wiener’s Senate bid, as is Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu. All four of the Board of Supervisors’ more moderate members, Board President London Breed (District 5), Julie Christensen (D3), Mark Farrell (D2), and Katy Tang (D4), endorsed Wiener.

In San Mateo County, state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has endorsed Wiener, as have all five members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The Senate district includes the cities of Colma and Daly City as well as a portion of South San Francisco.

The list of individual endorsers runs nearly 200 strong. Twelve unions, including police, firefighters and labor trades, have also lent Wiener their support.

The strong showing out of the gate from Wiener doesn’t surprise Rafael Mandelman, a local Democratic Party official who unsuccessfully ran against him for the supervisor seat in 2010.

“I think he has certainly demonstrated over his time in office that he is incredibly hardworking and that he is incredibly diligent and persistent. Once he starts working on an issue, he pursues it doggedly until he gets what he wants,” said Mandelman, currently president of the City College board of trustees who has yet to be asked for his endorsement in the Senate race. “I think that people on all places in the political spectrum have been impressed with his work ethic and his tenacity. The challenge is he is also quite controversial. He has picked a number of fights that have earned him friends and enemies.”

One issue critics have repeatedly attacked Wiener on is affordable housing. It is no coincidence housing is listed at the top of a list of his legislative accomplishments Wiener’s campaign sent out to reporters. It mentions his push to allow homeowners to add in-law units and granting larger density allowances to developers to build more affordable housing among his legislative wins.

“I think that criticism is way off base and based on a very selective view of the work I have done I have been working hard on housing for all income levels since the day I took office,” said Wiener. “I have been a consistent supporter of building more affordable housing. I have supported money in the budget every year for affordable housing, including for seniors and at-risk youth.”

Should he win the Senate seat, Wiener said he would take up Leno’s so far unsuccessful legislative battle to curb Ellis Act evictions in the city. And he said he would support changes to Proposition 13 that would result in commercial property owners paying more in taxes than residential property owners.

Wiener said he fully expects that housing issues will be “front and center” in the Senate campaign.
“Housing is the most significant challenge facing our city right now,” he said. “How we react to this housing crisis will determine, in many ways, what this city is in the future.”

Unlike in his re-election bid last year for supervisor, when he faced only token opposition, Wiener is likely to face at least one, perhaps two, strong progressive opponents for the Senate Seat.
Gay former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who was termed out of his seat last December, has expressed interest in seeking Leno’s seat. He filed paperwork to form a Senate campaign committee but has yet to report raising any money for it.

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim is said to be interested in running for the seat, while gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos has also been mentioned as a possible candidate. Campos lost his bid in November for a state Assembly seat representing San Francisco’s eastern neighborhoods to former Supervisor David Chiu, who has endorsed Wiener’s Senate bid.

The June primary, where the top two vote getters will advance to the November election, is less than a year away. It won’t be long before another candidate jumps into the race.

But with the field his alone at the moment, “Scott has a significant head start,” said Mandelman. “If I were Scott right now, I would be feeling really good.”

– reported by Matthew S. Bajko

— Cynthia Laird, June 30, 2015 @ 11:59 pm PST
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Former CA Gov Schwarzenegger celebrates marriage ruling

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 5.07.05 PMHe could have enacted marriage equality in California – twice – while in office, but both times former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the legislation.

A decade after he first jettisoned a pro-gay marriage bill, the actor-turned-politician took to Twitter late Friday afternoon to celebrate today’s historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court making same-sex marriage the law of the land in all 50 states.

Schwarzenegger simply typed the hashtag #LoveWins and linked to an Instagram picture of himself as his famous movie character The Terminator over-layed with the rainbow colors of the Pride flag. The latest installment of the blockbuster film franchise, Terminator Genisys, opens July 1.

After the state Legislature became the first in the country to pass a pro-gay marriage bill in 2005, Schwarzenegger said he could not sign AB849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act authored by gay lawmaker Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), then serving in the Assembly, because of the passage of Proposition 22 in 2000. The measure defined marriage as between a man and a woman and restricted California from recognizing gay marriages performed out of state.

“I am proud California is a leader in recognizing and respecting domestic partnerships and the equal rights of domestic partners,” he wrote in his veto message. “I believe that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationships. I support current domestic partnership rights and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce these rights and as such will not support any rollback.”

Schwarzenegger also cited the ongoing court battle over the state’s marriage laws sparked by former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision to order city officials to marry same-sex couples in 2004 as also impacting his reasoning in why he should not sign the marriage bill into law.

“The ultimate issue regarding the constitutionality of [the state’s laws] and its prohibition against same-sex marriage is currently before the Court of Appeal in San Francisco and will likely be decided by the Supreme Court,” Schwarzenegger correctly predicted.

He issued a similar message in 2007 when Leno was able to pass a second marriage equality bill through the Legislature.

“I maintain my position that the appropriate resolution to this issue is to allow the court to rule on Proposition 22. The people of California should then determine what, if any, statutory changes are needed in response to the court’s ruling,” wrote Schwarzenegger.

In 2008, Schwarzenegger opposed Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban passed that November.  And in 2010 he publicly backed a decision by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that declared Prop 8 unconstitutional. Schwarzenegger had refused to defend the anti-gay initiative in the courts.

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 26, 2015 @ 5:31 pm PST
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SF city departments and agencies show their Pride

11402850_10153103854963757_6474217560681609346_oWith Pride celebrations in full effect in San Francisco – this morning’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision kick started the merriment with impromptu partying in the city’s gay Castro district – a variety of city departments and agencies are showing their support for the LGBT community with rainbow logos and supportive social media messages.

By far the most lovable – or perhaps most cuddly  –  of the logo transformations is the one for SF Animal Care and Control, seen at right. The promoter of pet adoptions also features a cover photo montage of a cat, dog, bird and rabbit on its Facebook profile with the tagline “We take pride in our animals.”

In addition to wishing a “Happy Pride to all,” the agency is also promoting an adoption special that begins next Wednesday, July 1.

“We’re waiving adoption fees for America’s Dogs, giving free training classes with adoptions and debuting a fun contest with a fabulous prize,” the agency announced today.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 5.30.27 PMThe San Francisco Police Department has also switched its online logo to one that features a rainbow-colored badge. And as the Bay Area Reporter noted on its blog Thursday, the public safety agency is also encouraging Pride participants to be careful throughout the weekend.

hunxQLdb_400x400FbaDsie8_400x400Both the San Francisco Planning Department, whose director John Rahaim, is an out gay man, and the Public Works Department have also debuted rainbow-hued logos in honor of the annual LGBT celebration, which is marking its 45th anniversary this year.

DPW employees joined in the celebration of the same-sex marriage ruling in front of City Hall this morning. The department tweeted out a photo and the message “Public Works celebrates this historic day. #LoveIsLove @MrCleanSF.”

BZjsPATn_reasonably_smallThe San Francisco Public Library also is showing its Pride with a rainbow logo. Not only is the library taking part in the American Library Association’s annual conference being held in San Francisco this week, its James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center housed at the main branch will be marching in Sunday’s parade.

“We participate in the Pride parade every year. We have signs and banners and give out fortune cookies with all sorts of Pride messages inside,” said Karen Sundheim, the Hormel center’s program manager. “In our contingent with Pride we will have made 50 posters out of wood. On each side of the poster is an LGBT book. We are promoting those books and will also have quotes on the poster from the books.”

Park-rainbow-logo-200x300Back once again is the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s Pride logo redo. It shows a girl on a swing hung from a tree drawn in silhouette with a sky that is rainbow colored. It debuted four years ago, as the B.A.R. noted at the time.

The department raced to finish work on the renovation of the northern half of Dolores Park in time for tonight’s Trans March and tomorrow’s Dyke March. Both annual events kick off from the park, and organizers for each opted to take over a portion of 18th Street this year for staging their events as it was unclear if the urban greenspace would be open in time.

The fencing around the renovated portion of Dolores Park came down last Thursday, June 18. Now work on the southern half, where the popular “gay beach” hillside is located, is closed off as crews upgrade that section of the park.

Pride_rotatorThe San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency also has joined its city counterparts to show its LGBT support with a Pride-themed map of its light rail lines. Three years ago buses throughout the system sported Pride messages on the electronic route signs, but the pro-LGBT displays no longer appear due to one local activist’s questioning how the messages shown are selected.

As the SFMTA promotes the use of the city’s transit system by Pride participants, it has created a Pride weekend cheat sheet that can be found on its website here.

“Happy Pride! We’re off to an exciting start for celebrations this weekend,” noted the agency on its Facebook page Friday.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:00 pm PST
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Supreme Court rules in historic win for same-sex marriage

In a widely expected, yet stunning, victory for LGBT people nationally, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional.

The June 26 decision, in the case Obergefell v. Hodges, requires states to both issue marriage licenses to couples and to recognize marriage licenses obtained in other states by same-sex couples. The case was brought by plaintiff couples in four states: Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

(Jim Obergefell speaks in San Francisco June 10, ahead of the Supreme Court's marriage decision. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Jim Obergefell speaks in San Francisco June 10, ahead of the Supreme Court’s marriage decision. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

The 5-4 decision, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, strikes down bans that have been enforced in 13 states and is expected to secure the lower court decisions that struck down bans in nine other states.

Kennedy was joined in the decision by the court’s four more liberal justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

Chief Justice John Roberts led the dissent, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

Kennedy wrote that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”

“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them,” his opinion stated.

Speaking from the Rose Garden Friday morning – before leaving for South Carolina where he is delivering the eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney – President Barack Obama called the ruling “a victory for America.”

(Flags waved outside the Supreme Court Friday following the same-sex marriage decision. Photo: Rudy K. Lawidjaja)

(Flags waved outside the Supreme Court Friday following the same-sex marriage decision. Photo: Rudy K. Lawidjaja)

“This decision will end the patchwork system we have,” the president said.

He praised people who fought for years – “for decades,” he said – and said the ruling is a victory “for Jim Obergefell and the other plaintiffs, for other gay and lesbian couples and their children, and it’s a victory for the allies and friends and supporters.”

“Today we can say, in no uncertain terms, we made our union a little more perfect,” Obama said.

LGBT organizations and political leaders all over the country began issuing news releases declaring the decision “historic,” “amazing,” and “landmark.”

State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), a gay man who twice tried to legalize same-sex marriage in California before it became legal after the Supreme Court threw out Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban, in 2013, said Friday’s decision was “long overdue.”

“It was a long time coming,” Leno told the Bay Area Reporter. “Amid all the joy, all the elation, all the celebration, a quiet part of me says this just feels right.”

The California Legislative LGBT Caucus issued a statement shortly after the court’s decision was announced.

“It is hard to believe that just seven years after California voters passed Proposition 8, we are now celebrating marriage equality in the fullest sense of the word,” said caucus chair, Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton). “The court’s majority has affirmed that LGBT rights are not special rights. The loving bond between two individuals is not gay marriage and it is not same-sex marriage, but just marriage. Our struggle has gone on for so long, and on so many fronts, with so many reversals and setbacks, that it has been difficult to allow ourselves time to savor any triumphs. But today, the U.S. Supreme Court has given us a momentous one. Today we shall love and rejoice, and tomorrow, we will continue the fight.”

Added gay Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), “Marrying my partner of 32 years was one of the greatest days of my life. It was an experience and an opportunity that many loving couples across the country have been denied until now. This Supreme Court decision, which finds that states cannot prohibit same-sex marriage, is historic not only for the LGBT community, but also for all Americans who value fairness and equality. The institution of marriage provides over 1,000 legal and financial privileges. More importantly, it is a powerful symbol of a couple’s love and commitment. It is something to be cherished and shared.”

Rallies planned in advance are due to take place on the day the decision, including outside New York City’s historic Stonewall Inn.

In San Francisco, people were expected to gather at City Hall at 9 a.m. A rally is planned for the Castro at 6 p.m., the beginning of Pride weekend.

Dissenting, Roberts said that “a state’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational.”

“In short, our Constitution does not enact any one theory of marriage,” wrote Roberts. “The people of a state are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton praised the court’s ruling.

“Along with millions of Americans, I am celebrating today’s landmark victory for marriage equality, and the generations of advocates and activists who fought to make it possible,” Clinton said in a statement. “From Stonewall to the Supreme Court, the courage and determination of the LGBT community has changed hearts and changed laws.”

Clinton also noted that the fight for equality doesn’t end with the ruling.

“But we know that the struggle for LGBT rights doesn’t end with today’s triumph,” she added.
“As love and joy flood our streets today, it is hard to imagine how anyone could deny the full protection of our laws to any of our fellow Americans—but there are those who would. So while we celebrate the progress won today, we must stand firm in our conviction to keep moving forward. For too many LGBT Americans who are subjected to discriminatory laws, true equality is still just out of reach. While we celebrate today, our work won’t be finished until every American can not only marry, but live, work, pray, learn and raise a family free from discrimination and prejudice. We cannot settle for anything less.”

Scalia, who is known for his harshly worded disagreements, derided Kennedy’s majority opinion, characterized it as “pretentious” and “egotistic” and said it “has to diminish this court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis” and caused him to want to “hide my head in a bag.”

Lesbian Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) called the majority decision a “huge, huge milestone in our quest for freedom and human equality.” On MSNBC just minutes after the decision was released Friday morning, she called the decision “sweeping” and predicted it would help promote “full equality” for LGBT people in other arenas, including employment and public accommodations.

“We’ve always known that discrimination is wrong,” said Baldwin, “but to have the Supreme Court in such a bold fashion say that it is now unconstitutional is just remarkable progress.”

A large crowd of LGBT people, supporters, and media crowded the steps before the Supreme Court building plaza Friday morning. A male chorus could be heard singing the national anthem at 10:35, with onlookers waving rainbow and Human Rights Campaign equal-sign flags.

Mary Bonauto, the lesbian attorney who argued against the state bans on marriage for same-sex couples before the high court, told the gathering that the decision is “momentous” and “a landmark ruling for love and for justice.” In her remarks to the crowd, and then later to a reporter, Bonauto noted the decision was released on a day when the country is in deep mourning over the racially motivated killings of nine African Americans at a Bible study inside Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bonauto said it was important that all people be treated equally and protected from violent acts of discrimination. She told MSNBC that the court’s decision shows “we do have a fundamental right to marriage” but that the “nation remains divided about this even as a majority of people support loving and committed couples taking this step to marry.”

The Human Rights Campaign hailed the decision.

“Today is a monumental victory and a giant leap toward full equality,” HRC President Chad Griffin told an MSNBC reporter on the steps of the Supreme Court. But he, too, added that there is much more to do.

“While we’re all out here celebrating today because marriage equality has come to every state in the country,” said Griffin, “we also have to remember that still today in America, in this country, in a majority of states, the moment this decision is realized and couples get married, in a majority of states, they can be married at 10 a.m., fired from their jobs by noon, and evicted from their homes by 2 simply because there are no explicit federal protections as it relates to non-discrimination in this country.”

HRC announced it was sending letters to each governor of the 13 states plus Missouri (which allows marriage but only in certain jurisdictions) to urge “immediate” and “full compliance with the law.”

In some of those states, efforts have been underway for some time to find a way to defy the widely anticipated Supreme Court decision. The North Carolina Legislature passed a bill to let public officials who issue marriage licenses and can conduct ceremonies to refuse to administer the paperwork or perform the ceremony by claiming “sincerely held religious objections.” The governor vetoed the measure but on June 11, the Legislature overrode the veto.

In Arkansas, the state supreme court ordered marriage clerks to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples, but on June 9, a state judge declared that more than 500 licenses issued to same-sex couples before the state supreme court order was issued would be considered valid. The Texas Supreme Court has taken a similar tact.

But Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights who was involved in one of the four cases under appeal, said the majority opinion includes discussions that are likely to help equality for LGBT people in many other arenas.

“The court’s ruling that fundamental rights cannot be limited based on historical patterns of discrimination will be helpful to LGBT people in other fundamental rights cases, such as those involving the fundamental right to procreative freedom, to vote, to create a family, and to travel,” said Minter. “The court’s emphasis that the Constitution protects a broad liberty to self-determination and expression will be helpful to transgender litigants in many contexts.”

And Minter said the majority’s discussion of parenting will be “enormously helpful in other parenting cases.”

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, @ 7:35 am PST
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Supreme Court OKs same-sex marriage

The United States Supreme Court Friday, June 26 ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry.

Supreme Court

The 5-4 decision, in Obergefell v. Hodges, means that same-sex marriage is now recognized in all 50 states. The decision, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and that states have to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when it is lawfully licensed out of state.

Prior to the ruling, 37 states plus the District of Columbia allowed gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot.

Couples from four states – Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee – were part of the consolidated case, which looked at two questions: 1) Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

Coming in the midst of Pride Week in cities like San Francisco and New York, the decision likely means joyous crowds will swell at this weekend’s festivities.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the court’s decision soon.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 7:05 am PST
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Re-installation set for defaced gay mural in SF’s Mission district

A gay-themed mural on the Bryant Street exterior wall of the Mission district's Galeria de la Raza was recently defaced with black spray paint. Photo: Rick Gerharter

A gay-themed mural on the Bryant Street exterior wall of the Mission district’s Galeria de la Raza was recently defaced with black spray paint. Photo: Rick Gerharter

A defaced mural depicting gay Latinos in San Francisco’s Mission district will be re-installed Friday, June 26, Galeria de la Raza, the gallery hosting the mural, has announced.

The re-installation will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the gallery, 2857 24th Street. There will be a vigil at 8 p.m.

The mural, known as Por Vida (“For Life”), has been vandalized three times in recent days. Police are investigating the incidents as a hate crime, according to the gallery. The digital piece shows a gay couple, a transgender man, and a lesbian couple.

“This gathering will be an action for strength and positivity as we cope with the rupture our communities have recently experienced and to celebrate Chican@/Latin@ LGBTQ visibility,” Ani Rivera, the gallery’s executive director, said in a statement today (Thursday, June 25).

The gallery also plans to have a community forum. A date is expected to be announced soon.

In an interview earlier this week, Rivera, who identifies as a queer Chicana and lives in the Mission, said the mural is meant “to bring visibility to a sector of our community, and we’re not going to stop because of the threats.”

Artist Manuel Paul, in a recent statement released by the gallery, explained the reason for the mural.

“Por Vida was created to celebrate the LGTBQ Chican@/Latin@ culture within the context of a historically Chicano barrio,” Paul, who worked on the mural and is with the Los Angeles-based Maricon Collective, said, using the @ symbol to refer to Chicanos or Chicanas. “Through our art and our work we present counterstories that reflect queers growing up in the Barrio.”



— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 25, 2015 @ 6:40 pm PST
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SFPD urges safety during LGBT Pride weekend

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 5.30.27 PMThe San Francisco Police Department is urging people to be safe during the city’s LGBT Pride weekend.

The Pride celebration and parade are Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28, and the giant Pink Party street festival in the Castro is also set for Saturday. The festivities draw hundreds of thousands of people to the city’s streets each year, and bars will be packed throughout the weekend.

“The San Francisco Police Department joins the LGBT community at large in celebrating Pride Week,” Police Chief Greg Suhr said in a news release today (Thursday, June 25). “Along with our members, we’re working with many groups in a spirit of cooperation and good-will to make Pride Week 2015 a positive and safe experience for all.”

Police officials said, “There will be a significant police presence during the activities, with both uniformed and plain clothes officers on duty to monitor the events,” but safety “is the responsibility of all parties involved including participants, organizers, security staff and the police.”

Alcohol won’t be allowed in the streets at Pink Party, police noted, and “officers will patrol the venue and will be alert for persons possessing open containers of, or consuming alcoholic beverages, on streets, sidewalks and parks.

Police also offered several safety tips, including:

  • “Look out for each other and report any suspicious persons or activity to bar staff, Pride event staff or a police officer. A good adage is, ‘If you see something, say something.'”
  • “Drink responsibly and be aware of your drink.”
  • “Don’t drink and drive; Always use a designated driver.”
  • “Maintain possession of your cell phone, iPod, wallet and other valuables. 
One of the best protections is staying as a group with friends when on the street or leaving bars and clubs. Be cautious about leaving a bar or club with a stranger. A rule of thumb is that, if you feel “unsure” about another, rely on that instinct and do not go with that person.”

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story today, Pride officials are also encouraging people to be safe this weekend.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:25 pm PST
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BART police adopt transgender policy

BART police have adopted a policy guiding how officers will deal with transgender people, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has announced.

The policy aims to foster “respect and good will by addressing people how they wish to be addressed with regard to gender,” BART officials said in a June 24 news release.

For instance, the policy says, “if gender expression does not clearly indicate a transgender person’s identity, an officer may politely and respectfully ask how the person wishes to be addressed. For example, an officer may ask a transgender person which name and pronoun the transgender person prefers.”

BART police Chief Kenton W. Rainey. Photo: BART

BART police Chief Kenton W. Rainey. Photo: BART

BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey stated, “This policy is a reflection of our commitment to the community policing philosophy. Taking the time to involve our community stakeholders in this process only serves to strengthen our partnerships with various diverse communities we serve.”

In the news release, BART Independent Police Auditor Mark P. Smith said, “No specific problem or complaint spurred the action. The idea came from working with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement and the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service. The recommendation came from BART’s Citizen Review Board.

Officials said when the policy was being drafted last year, most other law enforcement agencies didn’t have similar policies.

“We feel that we have made a historic accomplishment,” Sharon Kidd, who chairs the Citizen Review Board, stated. “… We have such diversity in the Bay Area. It is very important for us to follow the model of what our charge is to do, which is to enhance the transparency of the BART Police Department.”

The policy also changes BART police recordkeeping, so that forms will include transgender data.

“While federal data, such as Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, may not include such options yet, this could possibly influence society in a larger way,” according to BART.

The policy also addresses how to treat people when they’re wearing prosthetics, makeup, and wigs, and when those items may need to be removed. It’s also designed to ensure transgender people who are detained have access to hormone therapy and other medical attention, “with the same urgency and respect as medical issues for other detained persons,” officials said.

The Oakland-based Transgender Law Center and the National Center for Transgender Equality were among those who provided input for the policy.

In a statement to the Bay Area Reporter today (Thursday, June 25), Krish Hayashi, TLC’s executive director, said, “This policy is a really important first step to reduce the harassment, abuse, targeting, and criminalization of transgender people who are just trying to go about their day, especially when you consider the larger context of police brutality against communities of color, specifically black communities. … As we have seen time and time again it is dangerous when police don’t know how to interact with and respect the needs of a community. Transgender people face alarming rates of incarceration and harassment, and we hope this policy pushes forward the conversation about ending violence, including state-sanctioned violence, against transgender people in the Bay Area.”

As the B.A.R. noted in a story today, data on how often transgender people face harassment in the Bay Area jails is hard to come by.

NCTE didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:00 pm PST
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Man hit with bat after Castro argument

A man was hit with a baseball bat as he ran from a store in San Francisco’s Castro district this week.

The incident, which started with “a verbal argument,” occurred at 12:45 a.m. Sunday, June 21 in the 3900 block of 18th Street, near Sanchez Street, according to Officer Grace Gatpandan, a police spokeswoman.

As the victim, 44, argued with another man Sunday, the victim kicked the shop’s front door, causing the glass to shatter. The suspect chased him from the store with the bat and hit him in the elbow and on the back of the legs with it, Gatpandan said.

The victim suffered a broken elbow and a contusion to the back of his legs. The suspect was described as a white male age 35 to 40.

In another recent Castro incident, a woman was robbed at 18th and Hartford streets Saturday, June 20.

The victim, a 26-year-old woman, was walking at 9:40 p.m. when the suspect approached her, grabbed her purse, and shook it. The woman’s tablet and perfume fell out. The man took the items and fled on foot.

The suspect was described as a black male in his 20s. The victim sustained redness to her neck.

No arrests have been reported in either case.

Anyone with information in the cases may call the SFPD anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444. People may also text a tip to TIP411. Type SFPD in the subject line.

The incident number for the incident at 18th and Sanchez is 150540910. The number for the 18th and Hartford case is 150539026.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 24, 2015 @ 11:46 am PST
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Parks service declares Chicago house newest LGBT national landmark

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

               Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The former home of a prominent gay rights activist in Chicago is now the country’s second LGBT site to be deemed a National Historic Landmark.

The Henry Gerber House in Chicago joins New York City’s famous Stonewall Inn, considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, as a federally recognized historic landmark 15 years after the gay bar received its designation.

Timed to coincide with Pride month, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who signed off on the landmarking, and the National Park Service announced the news this afternoon (Friday, June 19).

“The National Park Service is America’s storyteller, and it is important that we tell a complete story of the people and events responsible for building this great nation,” stated Jewell. “As we honor the pioneering work of Henry Gerber and the pivotal role this home played in expanding and fighting for equality for all Americans, we help ensure that the quest for LGBT civil rights will be told and remembered for generations to come.”

Given city landmark status in 2001 by Chicago officials, the residence is where Gerber lived in the early 1920s when he formed the Society for Human Rights, the first American gay civil rights organization, according to its listing on the Chicago Landmarks website. It is located at 1710 North Crilly Court in the Windy City’s Old Town Triangle neighborhood.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story in January of 2014, the federal landmarks program worked with University of Michigan at Ann Arbor Professor Michelle McClellan and her students on the nomination for Gerber’s house.

Starting in 1924, the house served as the headquarters and meeting place for the Society for Human Rights. The Society’s members held lectures, published a newsletter that was the earliest-documented gay-oriented periodical in the country, and worked to change the minds of legal and political authorities, noted the park service.

The Society’s chartered status and newsletter “were unprecedented” in the history of the gay rights movement in the U.S., according to the park service, and preceded better-known efforts by more than two decades. Although the house was the site of the earliest documented efforts toward LGBT emancipation, added the park service, the social and political climate led to the swift dissolution of the Society in 1925 after police arrested Gerber and several other members.

Although no warrant was produced, Gerber was taken into custody and his belongings confiscated. The organization’s collapse illustrates substantial obstacles in the struggle for civil rights, noted the park service.

“The struggles and achievements of Henry Gerber within the walls of this house resonate in the ongoing LGBT civil rights movement,” stated National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The desire to share his story is part of the National Park Service’s ongoing commitment, as it approaches its Centennial in 2016, to preserve and tell a more complete, inclusive, and diverse history of our country.”

The Gerber house recognition comes as park service officials seek more LGBT sites to add to the National Register of Historic Places and for consideration to be designated as a National Historic Landmark. There are more than 2,500 noteworthy archaeological and historic properties recognized by the National Historic Landmarks Program.

Work is also underway on a National Historic Landmark LGBTQ Theme Study and proposed framework for the National Park Service, which includes an online map of LGBT historic sites from across the U.S. The document is set to be completed in 2016.

As part of its National Park Service LGBTQ Initiative, the federal agency has asked historians, preservationists, and archivists who specialize in LGBT history to suggest sites that warrant being listed on the national register or designated as historical landmarks.

According to park service officials, just six properties in the country have been granted some form of federal historic preservation recognition specifically due to their relationship to LGBT history. The other four sites are in the National Register of Historic Places, described by the park service as “the nation’s inventory of properties deemed central to its history and worthy of recognition and preservation.”

The quartet comprises the Dr. Franklin E. Kameny Residence in Washington, D.C. (listed 2011); the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut (listed 2013); and Fire Island properties the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater (listed 2013) and the Carrington House (listed 2014).

Kameny in 1957 was fired from his federal government job for refusing to answer questions about his sexual orientation. Considered “the father of gay activism,” he died in 2011 at the age of 86.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Ingram Merrill, a celebrated American poet who died in 1995 at the age of 68, and his partner, David Noyes Jackson, who died in 2001 at the age of 76, bought their Stonington home in 1956. Merrill wrote almost all of his important works, including 25 volumes of poetry, three plays and two books, while residing in the house.

The Carrington House is considered “an important link” in Fire Island’s development as a gay resort area on the East Coast. The Cherry Grove property opened in 1948 and is considered the country’s “longest continuously operating gay and lesbian theater.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 19, 2015 @ 1:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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