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

SF voices support for unsealing Prop 8 trial tapes

Retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker oversaw the Prop 8 trial. Photo: Rick Gerharter.

Retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker oversaw the Prop 8 trial. Photo: Rick Gerharter.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office filed its support Wednesday (May 31) for unsealing tapes of the Proposition 8 trial.

San Francisco’s KQED public radio and TV station filed a motion in April to unseal the tapes, which have never been broadcast in full.

The trial, which took place in 2010 in San Francisco and is formally known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, ended with U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, now retired, ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. The case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2013 that the ban’s backers didn’t have standing to defend it. The high court’s decision essentially killed the prohibition, and in 2015, the justices ruled 5-4 that same-sex marriages should be allowed nationwide.

The 2010 proceedings “concerned matters of immense social importance, and the public interest in access to the video recording far outweighs any interest that the proponents of Proposition 8 have in continuing to keep the recording under seal,” the city’s motion says.

It notes that Prop 8’s backers have claimed the tapes should be sealed because they “would be subject to harassment or backlash for their participation in the trail.”

However, the motion says, “they never substantiated these claims with admissible evidence. Instead, they relied on stale hearsay accounts of threats or intimidation that they claim occurred during the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign.”

The filing also says that it was already determined that “the local rule under which the recording was filed under seal provides that a sealing order is not presumptively valid past 10 years. … Accordingly, proponents must offer some compelling justification for the continued confidentiality of the recording today.”

In their motion opposing the effort to unseal the tapes, which was also filed Wednesday, Prop 8 proponents say, “The recording of the trial exists only because of Judge Walker’s solemn commitment that it would not be broadcast, and any order unsealing the recording would undercut that commitment and threaten judicial integrity.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 31, 2017 @ 12:52 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Outgames’ ceremonies and sports canceled at last minute

by Roger Brigham

Organizers of the 2017 World Outgames canceled the opening and closing ceremonies and almost all of the sports competitions Friday, May 26, the day the event was scheduled to begin, angering athletes en route to or already in Florida.

(A sign at Outgames registration Friday, May 26 taken by runner Andrea Hermann)

(A sign at Outgames registration Friday, May 26 taken by runner Andrea Hermann)

“Athletes found out about the cancellation via an email message sent at 12:02 p.m. (EDT) on Friday,” distance runner Andrea Hermann told the Bay Area Reporter. “Many athletes had already arrived and checked into their hotels. I found out after arriving in Florida while heading to the host hotel. When I arrived at the hotel, we immediately asked about leaving early as we would not be staying the whole week for events that were not taking place. The Marriott Stanton South Beach staff were not told about the cancellation. They told us they had already checked in 90 rooms of people here for the games.”

Although the Outgames, which were set to start on Friday in Miami, had been plagued by fundraising failures and poor registrations for more than a year, had previously canceled eight scheduled sports, and had reportedly not paid any of the permit fees required for individual events, organizers were reassuring city officials and registrants up until the final moments that everything was in order. The Miami Herald reports that now the event faces a city audit of its financial records.

Most athletes had already arrived or were en route when they received a one-paragraph email from the Outgames board of directors telling them of the cancellations.

“It is with deep regret that due to financial challenges, World Outgames must cancel opening and closing ceremonies and sports programming with the exception of aquatics, country western dance, and soccer,” the Outgames statement read. “The human rights conference and cultural programs will continue as planned. We thank everyone who has supported the effort and apologize to those who will be impacted by this difficult decision.”

Miami organizers originally said they expected their 10-day event would draw 15,000 participants – a number none of the previous three World Outgames had come even close to attaining. In the end, they had just about 2,000 registrants for sports, the bulk of those in the three sports that are continuing and which have their own conventions and celebrations not dependent on the Outgames.

“For the board to cancel everything on the first day of the actual event is unforgivable,” runner Colin Bodels wrote South Florida Gay News in an email. “I have friends in the air over the Atlantic flying in from Sweden, Belgium, the U.K., and elsewhere. This is unconscionable and smacks of greed and reading more and more like a scam to get $$.”

Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of, wrote that he thought the cancellation two months after organizers had promised the event would go on meant there will be no more Outgames.

“It is incredibly disappointing that organizers would guarantee the public they would not cancel the event, then wait until hours before the opening ceremony to cancel it,” Zeigler wrote. “Athletes are now stuck with vacation time they may not want and travel costs they will never recover. What the Outgames just did to LGBT athletes is horrible. While there will still be tournaments for soccer players, aquatics athletes, and dancers, the news today will have one lasting international impact: This is the end of the World Outgames.”

Australian tennis player Rowen D’Souza told the Miami Herald he spent about $3,000 in travel expense to play in the event but had been bothered by the lack of information given to athletes.

“The communication has been poor from the start,” D’Souza said. “I suspect they knew there were problems but did nothing.”

Belgium’s Peter Clancy, expecting to compete in track and field, and his partner, who was going to run the half marathon, was en route to Miami when he learned their events were canceled.

“This just displays bad management that has a serious financial impact on many people,” said Clancy. “Last minute notice also shows a complete lack of respect for the participants and especially those of us traveling from other continents.”

This would have been the first time the World Outgames were held in the United States. Last year a continental version of the Outgames set to take place in St. Louis was similarly canceled on short notice because of lack of registrations.

— Cynthia Laird, May 26, 2017 @ 1:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF mayoral chief of staff Steve Kawa to retire

Steve Kawa, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s longtime chief of staff, is expected to retire in June, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.

(Steve Kawa will retire in June. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Steve Kawa will retire in June. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Kawa, a gay man, has served as a gatekeeper for three mayors, starting as deputy chief of staff under Willie Brown. He then became chief of staff to Gavin Newsom, and stayed in that role for Lee.

Gay former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a longtime colleague and friend, told the B.A.R. that Kawa will be missed.

He’s had a monumental career, working for mayors as different as Brown, Newsom, and Lee,” Dufty said, adding that Kawa got his start in City Hall as an aide to former Supervisor Tom Hsieh.

Dufty also credited Kawa with stepping in to help establish the San Francisco LGBT Community Center at times when the project was experiencing financial or other challenges. Many people worked to see the center project to fruition, “and Steve played a pivotal role,” Dufty said.

“It was a point of pride to him as a gay man that the center happened,” Dufty added.

Kawa, 54, is married to Dan Henkle, with whom he is raising two children.

According to sources, Jason Elliott, a straight man who is currently deputy chief of staff, will replace Kawa.

Dufty said that he and Kawa would “laugh a lot” about the time they served as supervisors’ aides. At the time, the pay for board aides was much lower than it is today.

“We’d go to the Midnight Sun and wait for people to buy us drinks,” Dufty said.

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

— Cynthia Laird, May 25, 2017 @ 12:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Governor proclaims Harvey Milk Day

The late San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk. Photo: Dan Nicoletta

The late San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk. Photo: Dan Nicoletta

California Governor Jerry Brown has proclaimed Monday (May 22) Harvey Milk Day. The non-paid state holiday was established in 2010 to honor the slain gay civil rights icon, who would have been 87 Monday.

Milk became the first out gay man in San Francisco and in the state to win public office when he was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was assassinated with Mayor George Moscone by former Supervisor Dan White in City Hall in 1978.

In his proclamation, Brown said, Milk “is remembered as a hero in the movement for acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. His courage in facing a hostile public and his insistence on being treated the same as anyone else contributed greatly to the advancement of this cause. Milk succeeded because he was not just a gay leader but a champion for his district, a brilliant coalition builder and community organizer who brought the real concerns of ordinary people to City Hall.”

Brown, who was governor when Milk was fatally shot, added, “I urge all Californians to remember Harvey Milk for his contributions to the more open, free, and honest society that we live in today.”

Many in San Francisco are marking the holiday with the Windows for Harvey campaign, with displays honoring Milk installed in storefront windows throughout the Castro and inside the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library. They will remain up through May 31, then many will be auctioned off June 1 at Spark Arts, 4229 18th Street.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 22, 2017 @ 10:27 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Real estate ad indicates Sausage Factory to close

The Sausage Factory (Photo: Redfin)

The Sausage Factory (Photo: Redfin)

The Sausage Factory, the Italian restaurant that’s been in the Castro district for almost 50 years, will be closing, according to a real estate ad that lists the restaurant’s building for sale at $4.1 million. The building, which is located at 517 Castro Street, also includes apartments. A call to the restaurant wasn’t immediately returned Friday morning (May 19).

“Situated in the prime retail corridor of San Francisco’s vibrant and historic Castro District, this property consists of 3 units, including a 2500 square foot restaurant, which will be delivered vacant,” the Redfin ad says. “The second and third floor are comprised of two spacious three and four bedroom residential units with high ceilings, hardwood floors, and abundant sunlight. The property is in proximity to all of the popular Castro District attractions including the famous Castro Theater, Philz Coffee, Soul Cycle and an abundance of dining and retail options. This is a unique opportunity for investors to acquire a mixed use asset with strong upside potential in a fabulous location.”

A note on Preserving LGBT Historic Sites in San Francisco Facebook page says, “With its funky, old-timey décor, the Sausage Factory has long been known an establishment welcoming to Castro residents and visitors both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ. The menu offers reasonably priced comfort food in copious portions that kept diners on a budget well fed. Many an informal gathering of LGBTQ organizers has taken place in the large bar space at the back of the restaurant.”

Donovan Jones commented on the post, “My (now) husband and I had our first date there 14 years ago, and we got engaged there. Some very fond memories.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 19, 2017 @ 11:11 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Low calls on Trump to resign

California Assemblyman Evan Low

California Assemblyman Evan Low

Gay California Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) introduced a resolution Wednesday (May 17) calling on Republican President Donald Trump to resign.

Over the past week, Trump has faced one controversy after another, the latest being reports that he asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Many feel that amounts to obstruction of justice, which would be an impeachable offense.

In Assembly Joint Resolution 17, Low says that if Trump doesn’t quit, Congress should impeach him, citing “Trump’s obstruction of justice, classified leaks, and violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.”

“Americans have had enough of Donald Trump’s unrelenting scandals,” said Low in a news release. “Amid the gross incompetence, recklessness and overwhelming conflicts of interest, we can’t wait for the next shoe to drop. We have expressed concern over his actions for months now. It’s time to stand up and do something about it.”

Low’s office noted, “Obstruction of justice was cited in the impeachment proceedings for both Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon,” and Low stated, “There is a crisis of confidence in the Trump presidency and it is jeopardizing our global standing. I can no longer wait and see if Congress will take action.”


— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 17, 2017 @ 1:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

District 8 supe, clean up crews to spruce up community

San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy will be joined by city public works crews and more than 200 volunteers Saturday, May 13 to clean up the Castro neighborhood and other parts of District 8.

The Community Clean Team, as the public works department calls it, will meet at Mission High School, 3750 18th Street. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. Speakers begin at 9. The clean up efforts will last until 1 p.m.

Projects will include installing pebble mulch at Harvey Milk Plaza and Pink Triangle Park and weeding and pruning at the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Library, a news release from the public works department says.

Every month, Community Clean Team goes to a different supervisorial district where volunteers from around the city gather to beautify their neighborhoods.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 12, 2017 @ 5:07 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Teen robbed in Castro

A 17-year-old girl was robbed in San Francisco’s Castro district early Saturday morning, May 6.

Police said that at 4:20 a.m. the victim was walking on Noe Street toward 19th Street when the suspect, a woman in her 20s, approached her, grabbed cash from her hand, and fled in a vehicle. The victim wasn’t injured. No arrests have been reported.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:33 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF couple arrested on child porn charges

Billy Lockhart (Photo: SFPD)

Billy Lockhart (Photo: SFPD)

Benjamin Martin (Photo: SFPD)

Benjamin Martin (Photo: SFPD)

A San Francisco couple are facing charges that they each possessed more than 600 files of child pornography.

Billy Lockhart, 36, a psychiatrist at UCSF, and Benjamin Martin, 33, were arrested Tuesday, May 9 at their home in the 100 block of Buena Vista Terrace, police said in a news release. The men are in a relationship, according to their Facebook profiles.

Lockhart, who allegedly used UCSF Wi-Fi to upload child pornography, is not in custody. He didn’t respond to a Facebook message from the Bay Area Reporter, and his profile on the site has been deleted.

A UCSF statement says that the university “has placed Dr. Lockhart on investigatory leave from the Department of Psychiatry’s residency training program, suspending all clinical activity and access to all UCSF information systems.”

As of Thursday night, Martin was being held on $115,000 bail, according to sheriff’s department records. But by Friday morning, he’d been released.

In March, police said, the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit began investigating someone “who was uploading and trading child pornography on the internet” and eventually identified Lockhart as the suspect.

Monday, police served a search warrant at the couple’s home and found “numerous media devices belonging to Lockhart, which all contained hundreds of child pornography videos and images.” They also gathered evidence that he was viewing child pornography.

Additionally, investigators found “hundreds of child pornography files on media devices belonging to Martin,” police said.

Lockhart was arrested on suspicion of possession of child pornography, possession of over 600 files of child pornography, and distribution of child pornography. Martin was arrested on suspicion of possession of child pornography and possession of over 600 files of child pornography.

Police are asking anyone who feels they may have been a victim with Lockhart or Martin or who had “suspicious contact” with them to contact the Special Victims Unit at (415) 558-5500.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 11, 2017 @ 9:32 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Propane tank leads to Castro bomb scare

A bomb scare stemming from a report of a propane tank with a note shut down much of San Francisco’s Castro district Wednesday night, May 3.

According to a Facebook post by gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, “an anonymous citizen called 911 after seeing a propane tank scribbled with ‘This is a bomb!'” at Castro and Market streets.

Police spokeswoman Officer Grace Gatpandan said in a news release that police responded to the area at 9:17 p.m.

“The reporting party stated a propane tank was found with a label indicating the item was possibly explosive in nature,” Gatpandan said. Police “immediately shut down the surrounding area” to Muni, vehicles, and pedestrians.

City officals issued an alert at 9:59 p.m. for people in the area to shelter in place.

The 400 block of Castro Street was completely blocked off, and Market Street between Diamond and Noe was also shut down. Muni buses were rerouted. Numerous police and fire personnel were in the area.

The police department’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit “deployed its robot to inspect the device, and determined the propane tank to be non-hazardous,” said Sheehy.

Gatpandan said the bomb unit “ultimately rendered the item non-hazardous at approximately 11:10 p.m.”

The shelter in place advisory was lifted at 12:02 a.m. Thursday.

-Matthew S. Bajko contributed to this post.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 4, 2017 @ 2:48 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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