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

Chiu’s LGBT data collection bill advances in CA senate

Assemblyman David Chiu marched in this year's Pride parade in San Francisco. Photo courtesy Chiu's Facebook page.

Assemblyman David Chiu marched in this year’s Pride parade in San Francisco. Photo courtesy Chiu’s Facebook page.

A bill that would require a number of state agencies in California to collect LGBT demographic information survived its first hearing in the Senate this week.

Assembly Bill 959, authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), is known as the LGBT Disparities Reduction Act. As the Bay Area Reporter has noted previously, the legislation would instruct state agencies overseeing health and social services programs to begin collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity no later than July 1, 2017.

It passed out of the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization Tuesday, July 12 by a vote of 12-1. Republican Senator Sharon Runner was the only dissenting vote; the bill did receive support from the other three Republican senators on the committee.

The bill moves next to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it will be heard in late August.

“Understanding the health disparities our LGBT communities disproportionately face across the state is long overdue,” stated Chiu. “We must take this first essential step towards overcoming the historical invisibility of the LGBT community to the state when it comes to crucial resources and services.”

Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2013, partly due to the cost associated with having to upgrade state forms and computer systems. Over the ensuing years the number of LGBT advocates, health officials, and academic researchers speaking out on the need for better data about the LGBT community has only grown.

New York state has been leading the way on the matter, with officials at a variety of agencies in the Empire State already collecting LGBT information. Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, is sponsoring Chiu’s bill and has made LGBT data collection one of its top legislative goals this session.

“While we have accomplished much in recent years, both in California and nationwide, eliminating healthcare disparities suffered by LGBT people is one of the next major chapters of our movement,” stated EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur. “The pervasive discrimination still confronting our community shows up in our overall health, with high rates of substance abuse, depression and suicide, but we can’t begin to treat the problem if we don’t know its size. This legislation will help public programs target those most in need.”

AB 959 specifically directs four California departments to collect “voluntary self-identification information” pertaining to LGBT people. The agencies are the departments of health care services, public health, social services, and aging.

A fifth state agency that had initially been included, fair employment and housing, is no longer covered by Chiu’s bill, which was last amended July 7. The list was pared down to focus more on social service and health data, with additional agencies added in the future should the initial legislation be adopted this year.

The bill also specifies that, due to safety concerns and “the sensitive general nature of data relating to sexual orientation and gender identity,” the quartet of agencies will be prohibited from publicly disclosing any personal identification information “that would allow the identification of an individual who provided voluntary self-identification information pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 15, 2015 @ 3:25 pm PST
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Hookup ends in robbery in SF

An apparent hookup went wrong early Tuesday when a man was robbed in San Francisco by a man he met in a bar.

The victim, 32, met the suspect, 21, in a bar, and they took the victim’s car back to his hotel room near Post and Buchanan streets at about 3 a.m. July 14, according to Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman.

Once they were on the sidewalk, the suspect reached into the victim’s pocket and took out his wallet. The victim tried to get his wallet back, but the suspect “grabbed his arm and twisted it, causing pain,” Esparza said in a summary of the incident. The suspect, who’s described only as a white male, fled on foot.

The suspect got away with the victim’s wallet, which contained his Brazilian identification, other ID, and cash, but the victim wasn’t injured. No arrests have been reported.

Anyone with information related to the case may call the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The incident number is 150611834.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:21 pm PST
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CA LGBT legal groups blast lack of LGBT judges on state bench

ONLINE_Political_Notes_11_15_LRGA coalition of LGBT legal groups in California is blasting the lack of LGBT judges on the state bench in what it is describing as a “first in the nation survey.”

Titled “The New Frontier of LGBT Equality: The California State and Federal Judiciary,” the 15-page document concludes that “LGBTs are just treading water” when it comes to being appointed or elected to serve on state and federal courts in the Golden State.

As the report notes, “even with recent appointments and election victories, the percentage of openly LGBT sitting California judges and justices still remains at a disappointing 2.4 percent.”

The Bay Area Reporter has been been reporting on the lack of LGBT judges on the state bench since 2011, when California judges were first asked if they identify as LGBT. State law requires the California Administrative Office of the Courts to annually report on the diversity of the judiciary, including on the sexual orientation and gender identity makeup of the state bench.

Responding to the questionnaire is entirely voluntary, and the identities of the lesbian, gay, and transgender judges are not disclosed. As the B.A.R. noted in a March story about the data released earlier this year, there were zero bisexual judges among the 1,655 jurists serving as of December 31, 2014. It marked the fourth year in a row that bi justices were missing from the demographic data.

In a news release about its report on the state’s judicial makeup, the California LGBT Bar Coalition stated that “among the remaining frontiers for full LGBT equality is equal representation in the state & federal judiciary. It is both ironic and sad that the very judicial institutions that we rely upon for our equality are themselves so unequal and un-inclusive of LGBT Americans.”

Among the findings highlighted in the report, the coalition noted there has never been an openly LGBT justice on the California Supreme Court and that 45 of California’s 58 counties do not have any LGBT judges.

“In other words, the LGBT community is not represented in the judiciary in 78 percent of the counties in California,” noted the coalition.

The report also highlighted that out of 438 Los Angeles County trial court judges, only nine self-identify as LGBT.

“It’s time for California to make a sustained commitment to increase LGBT representation throughout the judiciary. The legitimacy of the justice system depends on inclusion,” Herbst Foundation Professor and Dean’s Circle Scholar at the University of San Francisco School of Law Julie A. Nice states in the report.

The B.A.R. will have more about the report in its July 23 issue next Thursday.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:53 pm PST
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Teen charged in shooting near SF Pride pleads not guilty

Joshua Spencer. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

Joshua Spencer. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

The teen charged with shooting a man who had just attended San Francisco’s recent LGBT Pride celebration has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges in the case.

Joshua Spencer, 19, allegedly shot the 64-year-old victim in the arm Saturday, June 27 after Spencer and several other men got into an argument at United Nations Plaza. The site of the shooting, which occurred just after 6 p.m., is near where the festival had ended for the day, but police have said the incident was unrelated to Pride. The victim was briefly hospitalized.

Besides the attempted murder charge, Spencer, who’s being held on $2.5 million bail, also pleaded not guilty Thursday, July 9 to two counts of assault with a semiautomatic rifle and a count of intentional discharge of a firearm with great bodily injury.

Assistant District Attorney Nathan Quigley said in court this week that video of the incident shows Spencer firing at one of the two victims. The victims are the man who was actually shot, and the person that Spencer had allegedly been firing at.

The gun was found in the same block as the shooting, Quigley said, and Spencer’s “palm prints were found on the magazine of the gun.”

Spencer has declined the Bay Area Reporter’s request for an interview.

Asked about the case today (Friday, July 10), Deputy Public Defender Brian Pearlman, who’s representing Spencer, said, “I’m not going to have any statement about that right now.”

The  next court date is July 21.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 10, 2015 @ 4:10 pm PST
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CA LGBT bills survive Senate committee votes

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell

Two LGBT bills survived committee votes this week in the California state Senate and now await passage by the full Senate.

On Tuesday (July 7) the Senate Education Committee by a 7-2 vote, with the body’s two Republican members opposed, approved AB 827, authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach). It calls for the creation of a training program to help teachers combat bullying and support LGBT youth who are coming out of the closet or being targeted by other students.

In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, O’Donnell, a former schoolteacher, hailed the committee voting to advance his bill. He noted it “requires schools to provide annual training for teachers on school and community resources available to LGBTQ students. Supportive learning environments improve academic achievement and make schools safer!”

Also on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 – with all the Democrats in favor while the two Republicans on the committee abstained – to advance AB 960, the Equal Protection for All Families Act. Authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), the legislation modernizes California law to protect families using assisted reproduction methods.

The legislation would grant unmarried people using assisted reproduction the same parental rights as married parents. It would also remove the requirement from the state’s Family Code that couples must involve a physician or sperm bank when using assisted reproduction in order to ensure that the donor is not a parent.

“This bill is about treating every intended parent, who has carefully weighed the life-changing decision to have children, as a parent from the moment of birth,” stated Chiu. “Many couples, especially our LGBT couples, use assisted reproduction to start their families. It is time that California updates its assisted reproduction laws to ensure couples using assisted reproduction are not unjustly deterred from having their own families.”

Supporters of the bill argue that the state’s current rules on artificial insemination are cost prohibitive to many families as they cannot afford to conceive using a sperm bank or doctor, which can costs hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. They also note that a sperm donor could be required to pay child support by the state, under the current rules, if the parents conceived through at-home insemination.

“Currently, many families with children conceived through assisted reproduction are not recognized by California law,” stated National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “AB 960 ensures that all children conceived through assisted reproduction have equal legal protections for their families.”

AB 960 is expected to be voted on by the full Senate in the next two weeks. It is one of 10 pieces of legislation regarding LGBT issues begin considered by California legislators this session.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 8, 2015 @ 3:07 pm PST
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Man hit with bottle in Castro

Photo: Rick Gerharter

Photo: Rick Gerharter

A man was hit over the head with a bottle early Tuesday morning in San Francisco’s Castro district after arguing with another man.

The July 7 incident occurred at 12:30 a.m. in the 4000 block of 18th Street when the men had “a verbal argument” and the suspect “grabbed a glass bottle” and struck the victim with it, according to Officer Albie Esparza, a police department spokesman.

The assailant fled the scene, leaving the victim, 31, with a non-life threatening head laceration. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

The suspect was described as a 28-year-old Hispanic male. No arrest has been reported in the incident.

Anyone with information related to the case may call the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The incident number is 150589601.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:54 pm PST
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Navy and Marine Corps toughen rules for discharging transgender members

Courtesy KPBS

Courtesy KPBS

The Navy and Marine Corps have toughened the rules for discharging transgender members, similar to recent moves by other branches of the U.S. armed forces.

According to a memorandum, dated July 1, from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the level of authority required to discharge transgender sailors and marines has been raised higher up the chain of command.

“Effective immediately, separations initiated under the provisions of the references for service members with a diagnosis or history of gender dysphoria, who identify themselves as transgender, or who have taken steps to externalize the condition, must be forwarded to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) for decision,” wrote Mabus.

The day prior to the discharge rule change announcement, Tuesday, June 30, the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California held the base’s first LGBT Pride event. A Navy Fleet Readiness Center Southwest spokesman told San Diego radio station KPBS 89.5/97.7 FM that the celebration was the first of its kind at a naval base on the West Coast.

The policy change follows steps taken earlier this year by the Army and the Air Force to elevate the decision authority for discharging transgender servicemembers in those branches of the U.S. military. In both branches neither gender dysphoria nor self-identification as transgender is an automatic circumstance that generates involuntary separation.

The American Military Partner Association, a national organization for LGBT military families, hailed the decision by the Navy and Marine Corps. But the group also called for a wholesale rescinding of the military’s policies that bar transgender servicemembers from serving openly.

“While this is welcome news and an important step in the right direction, it does not change the ultimate risk of being fired that transgender troops continue to face simply for being open and honest about who they are,” stated AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “We need the Department of Defense to expeditiously update the outdated regulations that continue to threaten and harm our transgender service members and their families.”

The step taken by the Navy this week comes after the Navy Times reported in March that the senior enlisted sailor of the U.S. Navy – Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens – would support open and honest service by transgender troops if the ban caused by outdated regulations was lifted.

Asked if transgender recruits who have completed their gender transitions should be allowed to serve, Stevens told the publication that if they meet the Navy’s standards, they should be allowed to serve. Stevens said, “So, I was a recruiter at one time. The Navy sets the guidelines for [who] we can allow to join the Navy. So if they’re physically, mentally and morally qualified, anybody who meets those criteria has an opportunity to serve their country.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 2, 2015 @ 3:47 pm PST
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AG Harris rejects second ‘kill gays’ initiative

The anti-gay Orange County attorney who submitted the Sodomite Suppression Act for the November 2016 ballot that was rejected by a judge last week again attempted to submit a proposed constitutional amendment that would have done the same thing.

(Attorney General Kamala Harris. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Attorney General Kamala Harris. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday rejected the proposal from attorney Matthew McLaughlin, according to the Sacramento Bee.

According to the paper, McLaughlin said that he purposely didn’t defend the first initiative, which would have amended the state’s penal code. The new proposal, dubbed the Sodomite Suppression Mandate, would have amended the state constitution and legalized the killing of gays and lesbians by “bullets to the head” or “any other convenient method.”

In a phone interview with the Bee, McLaughlin invoked the Bible as the reason he was proposing laws allowing people to kill gays.

“What I’m proposing is not murder,” McLaughlin told the paper. “I’m proposing the laws as they’ve ever been. The Bible doesn’t change.”

Harris didn’t waste any time in rejecting the measure. In a letter, she also returned McLaughlin’s $200 processing fee, the paper reported.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported this week, Harris called McLaughlin an “idiot” during her remarks at the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club Pride Breakfast.

“Look at where we are – some idiot proposed a state initiative to allow gays to be killed,” Harris said at the June 28 event.

The attorney general’s office didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on the latest rejected measure. McLaughlin has not responded to requests for comment from the B.A.R.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 1:10 pm PST
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UPDATED: Police make arrest in shooting near SF Pride

San Francisco police have made an arrest in the June 27 shooting that occurred near the San Francisco Pride festival.

(Joshua Spencer. Photo: Courtesy SFPD)

(Joshua Spencer. Photo: Courtesy SFPD)

According to a news release issued late Thursday afternoon, the San Francisco Police Department’s Gang Task Force Unit followed investigative leads and identified the suspect responsible as Joshua Spencer, a 19-year-old San Francisco resident.

Police said that Spencer was arrested Thursday, July 2 at noon in Vallejo. Spencer was then transported to the San Francisco Gang Task Force Unit for further investigation, police said.

Police added that at approximately 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Spencer was booked at San Francisco County Jail two counts of attempted murder, discharging a firearm in public, and possession of an unregistered firearm.

(previous entry)

A police source told the Bay Area Reporter Thursday that a suspect has been arrested. Cellphone video taken by witnesses apparently helped nab the person.

The shooting happened in United Nations Plaza shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, as the nearby Pride festival was ending for the day.

A 64-year-old Pride spectator was shot once in the arm and transported to San Francisco General Hospital that night in stable condition.

Police spokesman Carlos Manfredi told the paper this week that the incident was believed to have started when several groups of men, “unrelated to the Pride event,” got into a verbal argument near or inside the venue.

“The incident escalated when one of the subjects pulled out a gun and fired several shots,” Manfredi said earlier this week.

The B.A.R. will have more on this story in next week’s issue.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 1:02 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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