Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 17 / 24 April 2014

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

Virginia AG won’t defend marriage ban

The attorney general of Virginia announced Thursday (January 23) that his office will no longer defend the constitutionality of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

At a news conference, Attorney General Mark Herring told reporters his legal analysis of the state’s constitutional ban has determined the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process and that it discriminates against gay people on the basis of sexual orientation.

(Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Photo: Reuters)

(Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Photo: Reuters)

Addressing critics who say he should defend all state laws, regardless of whether he believes they are unconstitutional. Herring said that would be violating his oath and noted that his predecessors, including Republican Ken Cuccinelli, refused to defend other state laws they believed to be unconstitutional.

“Having determined after thorough and rigorous analysis that this unconstitutional law infringes on Virginia families,” said Herring, “I have a duty and authority to protect them and their rights. It does not mean the case will end or that the ban will go undefended or unenforced. Until the courts can rule on the matter, state registrar Janet Rainey will continue to enforce the current ban, but neither she nor I will defend its constitutionality.”

The announcement comes less than three weeks after Herring was sworn in and just one week before a federal judge in Norfolk is set to hear arguments in the first of two lawsuits challenging the ban in federal court in Virginia.

A spokeswoman for Herring told the Richmond Times Dispatch, “We will file a brief that will change the commonwealth’s legal position and we will argue along with the plaintiffs.” The state’s solicitor general is expected to present Herring’s position when the court hears oral arguments.

Supporters of marriage equality were elated.

“It is a critical and important development when the attorney general – the keeper of the federal and state constitution in the commonwealth – joins us in arguing that barring same-sex couples from marriage is clearly unconstitutional,” said Greg Nevins, counsel in Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund’s southern regional office based in Atlanta. Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union are representing same-sex couples in one of two lawsuits currently challenging the Virginia ban in federal district courts.

“This is a great day for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Theodore Olson, who is leading the other Virginia lawsuit. “Attorney General Herring’s actions today have brought Virginia that much closer to the quintessential American ideals of equality under the law and the freedom to pursue happiness. We are grateful for his leadership and look forward to working with him to strike down Virginia’s odious marriage ban.”

In another dramatic development, plaintiffs’ attorneys on Wednesday submitted the recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in SmithKline v. Abbott that found heightened scrutiny is required for cases involving disparate treatment based on sexual orientation. They ask the judge to apply that reasoning in the summary judgment hearing “or, in the alternative,” grant a preliminary injunction against enforcement of Virginia’s ban against the two plaintiff couples in this case.

Herring’s announcement Thursday represents a climax in an intense political drama over same-sex marriage in Virginia in recent months. Democrat Herring, who voted for the ban when he served as state senator in 2006, won election last November against Republican Mark Obershain, who opposes same-sex marriage, by fewer than 200 votes. In fact, Herring only last August shifted his position on allowing same-sex couples to marry, telling the Dispatch, “I would not want the state to tell my son or my daughter who they can and cannot marry.”

Just one day before Herring took office, Cuccinelli issued an official advisory opinion that the governor “may not direct or require any agency of state government to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for Virginia income tax returns.”

Herring’s spokeswoman, Ellen Qualls, told the Dispatch, “The attorney general has a strong interest in the courts adjudicating this matter, which will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court.”

On January 30, Judge Arenda Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia is scheduled to hear arguments at a summary judgment hearing in Bostic v. Virginia. Famed attorneys Olson and David Boies, who led the American Foundation for Equal Rights’ successful challenge against California’s Proposition 8, are heading the Norfolk legal team. It is not yet known whether Thursday’s announcement might require postponement of next week’s hearing.

The initial named defendants in Bostic are now State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey and Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer.

The amended brief submitted by Herring under Rainey’s signature states that “marriage is a fundamental right protected by the federal Constitution” and that current Virginia law “improperly denies same-sex couples access to” that fundamental right, “without legal justification, and therefore violates the federal constitution guarantees of due process of law and the equal protection of the laws.”

The court also granted intervenor status to Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg on January 17, noting that plaintiffs did not object.

A second lawsuit, Harris v. Virginia, led by Lambda Legal and the ACLU, is pending before a U.S. District Court for the Western District.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia has too often argued on the wrong side,” said Herring, referring to historic cases on desegregation in 1954, on interracial marriage in 1967, and on women entering the Virginia Military Institute in 1996.

“The same legal principles that applied in those cases apply in this case today,” he added.

Referring to his 2006 vote in favor of the ban on same-sex marriage, Herring was blunt.

“I was wrong to stop short of marriage equality,” said Herring, but he added his decision now “is not based on my policy preferences” but “based on my thorough analysis of applicable law and the constitutional questions raised by this case.”

“Virginia is, in many ways, the cradle of democracy,” said Herring, noting that many of the nation’s early presidents and authors of key government documents, including the Constitution, were written by Virginians.

“Too many times in our history our citizens have had to lead the way on civil rights while our leaders have stood against them,” said Herring. “It is time for the commonwealth to be on the right side of history and the right side of law.”

– Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, January 23, 2014 @ 12:38 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Supreme Court halts Utah marriages

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

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

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

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

LGBT legal activists agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, January 6, 2014 @ 9:24 am PST
Filed under: News

Federal judge throws out Utah ban on same-sex marriage

A federal judge in Utah issued a decision Friday striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Obama appointee Judge Robert Shelby issued a 53-page decision December 20 in Kitchen v. Herbert, saying the state’s current definition of marriage is not permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

Noting that a court interferes with a law adopted by voters “only under exceptional circumstances,” Shelby said, “Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law.”

“The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry,” wrote Shelby, “and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason.”

Shelby’s order immediately enjoined the state from enforcing its ban, but Republican Governor Gary Herbert’s administration will almost certainly seek an emergency stay of the decision from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It is, nevertheless, yet another surge of momentum in the direction of marriage equality in the United States, coming just one day after the New Mexico Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, said that state could no longer interpret its marriage laws to exclude same-sex couples. That decision made New Mexico the 17th state in the country, plus the District of Columbia, to provide marriage equality and putting more than one-third of states and one-third of the nation’s population in jurisdictions that treat same-sex couples the same as straight couples.

Gay rights advocates praised the decision.

“Today’s ruling by a federal district court in Utah, striking down Utah’s marriage ban, is a huge win, not only for same-sex couples in Utah, but for our entire country,” said Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This is the first decision since the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act to overturn a state marriage ban under the federal constitution. To have such a historic ruling take place in Utah speaks volumes about our country’s trajectory from discrimination to acceptance and support for same-sex couples and their families. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the brave couples who brought this case, as well as to the superb attorney, Peggy Tomsic, who represented them.”

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, December 20, 2013 @ 3:43 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Supervisors OK panel picks


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved applicants for several city panels.

First up, Jon Ballesteros and Maggie Weiland were approved to serve on the new advisory body tasked with selecting a terminal at San Francisco International Airport to name after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk.

Ballesteros is a gay Latino man who is vice president of public policy at San Francisco Travel, the city’s tourism bureau. Weiland is an analyst with the San Francisco Film Commission and the daughter of former Milk confidant Anne Kronenberg.

The supervisors can appoint four people to the panel, but as previously reported, the rules committee put off advancing two other names to the full board in hopes of finding more diverse applicants. It may reconsider the men, Alex Walker, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club’s political vice president; and Steven Guilliams, an engineer and code architect, at its meeting Thursday, November 21. Both are white.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Lee is expected to name five people to the committee. The panel will have three months to present its recommendations to the board and could also recommend names for all of the airport’s terminals, as well as boarding areas and control towers. There are three domestic terminals and an international terminal.

At its November 18 meeting the supervisors also approved out lesbian G. Joyce Pierson to serve on the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force. She fills the seat that became vacant when trans community activist Jazzie Collins died this summer.

Pierson, who came out in her 40s, is a psychotherapist in private practice.

Finally, the board approved gay city resident Patrick Carney to serve on the City Hall Preservation Advisory Committee. Carney, an architect, is best known locally for spearheading the annual pink triangle installation atop Twin Peaks during Pride weekend.

— Cynthia Laird, November 19, 2013 @ 6:23 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Santa Clara sheriff’s office releases sketch in De Anza College sexual assault

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office on Thursday, November 14 released a sketch of a man suspected of sexually assaulting a De Anza College student on campus.

(The Santa Clara County Sheriff's office has released this sketch of a suspect in the De Anza College sexual assault case.)

(The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office has released this sketch of a suspect in the De Anza College sexual assault case.)

As the Bay Area Reporter reported in an online story this week, a female student, possibly a pansexual or transgender woman, reported that on Monday, November 4 she was sexually assaulted in the campus’ Media and Learning Center building’s first floor women’s bathroom. The victim, who is a 19-year-old student at De Anza College, stated the she was in the women’s restroom when the male suspect entered her bathroom stall and sexually assaulted her. The victim identified the suspect as a De Anza College student based on prior interactions she has had with him on campus, but said they are not friends and she does not know his true name. However, the victim believes he goes by “Johnny” based on her prior interaction with him.

A news release from the sheriff’s office described the suspect as either a white or Hispanic male in his early 20s, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing between 180 and 200 pounds. He has shoulder length dark brown hair, brown eyes, prominent acne in and around the chin area and clean-shaven. The suspect was last seen wearing a long sleeve, button-up, dark colored shirt with blue jeans.

Anyone with any information on the identity of this suspect, or information on this assault, is asked to contact the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office at (408) 808-4500 or if they wish to remain anonymous, please call (408) 808-4431.

For the B.A.R.‘s story, see

— Cynthia Laird, November 15, 2013 @ 4:01 pm PST
Filed under: News,Uncategorized

Senate passes ENDA

The Senate Thursday (November 7) approved the flagship piece of legislation that the LGBT community has fought for over the past 19 years and more.

The 64-32 vote marked the first time the Senate has approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The only other Senate vote, in 1996, failed on a vote of 49-50.

ENDA seeks to add language to the federal Civil Rights Act to prohibit employers from taking adverse employment actions against employees or job applicants based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” It applies to employers with more than 15 employees but exempts some employers based on the degree to which they are involved in religious activities.

(Senator Tammy Baldwin. Photo: Chuck Colbert)

(Senator Tammy Baldwin. Photo: Chuck Colbert)

While the bill is not as comprehensive as the original legislation introduced by the late Representative Bella Abzug in 1974 and championed by the late Senator Ted Kennedy beginning in 1996, it is considered to be both a critical step toward securing equal rights for LGBT people and a powerful symbolic asset.

The major hurdle now is the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has repeatedly said he would not bring ENDA to the floor for a vote, saying he does not believe the legislation is necessary and that it would lead to frivolous lawsuits.

That looming hurdle did not dampen the enthusiasm of senators praising the Senate for its passage of the bill.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), who took the lead on ENDA in the Senate after the death of Kennedy, praised Kennedy’s leadership and that of others in both political parties.

“From the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution to our battles over slavery, our battles over gender discrimination, race discrimination, we have fought to capture that vision of equality and liberty and opportunity and fairness embedded in our founding documents and our founding vision,” said Merkley, at a press conference after the first two votes were secured. “We’ve taken a huge stride today in that direction.”

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who championed the bill in his Senate committee, said, “Today is an historic day.” He noted that the Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1994.

“Now, we have sort of finished the trilogy,” said Harkin, who also praised Merkley’s leadership on ENDA.

“We wouldn’t be here without Jeff Merkley,” said Harkin. “He spearheaded this whole effort.” And Harkin called out Senator Tammy Baldwin’s (D-Wisconsin) involvement “instrumental.”

The passage of ENDA came after the Senate first rejected an amendment to dramatically expand the number of employers who could claim a religious exemption to ENDA. The amendment, introduced by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), needed 60 votes to pass.

Section 6 of the original bill stated, “This act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

On November 6 the Senate approved, by voice vote, an amendment from six Republican senators led by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to ban state and local governments from “retaliating against religious groups that take action only permissible because of the religious exemption clause” in ENDA. While LGBT groups were not enthusiastic about the Portman amendment, they didn’t oppose it.

But nearly every LGBT group and supporter opposed the Toomey amendment. It sought to expand the exemption to include entities “managed by a church or religious organization, officially affiliated with a particular religion, or [that] teach a curriculum directed toward propagating a particular religion.” It would also apply to organizations with “both religious and secular functions.”

Speaking on behalf of his amendment Thursday morning, Toomey said ENDA “makes a strong stand” for equality. But he said religious freedom is also an important value. He said he thinks his amendment “strikes an appropriate balance.” He said he was concerned the courts have not been consistent in recognizing which religious institutions should enjoy the religious exemptions that currently exist in the Civil Rights Act.

Harkin spoke in opposition to Toomey’s amendment, saying that changing the existing language of the Civil Rights Act will call into question language that employers are already familiar with and know how to comply with. He said the Toomey amendment “officially affiliated with a particular religion” to discriminate.

“This is a new term that is undefined in the text of the amendment and could lead to thousands of pro-profit businesses being allowed to discriminate,” said Harkin. He said an employer might be considered “affiliated” simply by receiving a newsletter from a religious group. “It threatens to gut the fundamental purpose of ENDA,” said Harkin.

Baldwin, the Senate’s only openly gay member, said the current religious exemption in ENDA is a “very carefully negotiated bipartisan” exemption. She urged the Senate to reject Toomey’s amendment.

The Senate did so, by a vote of 43-55.

The Senate then voted 64-34 to approve a procedural motion to close debate on ENDA. (All roll call votes are available on the Senate website approximately one hour after they are recorded.)

ENDA supporters were clearly hoping for a robust vote in support of the underlying bill and were heartened that not one senator, over the course of four days of allotted debate time, spoke in opposition.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) did express concern about the addition of language to protect people on the basis of gender identity. Flake indicated he had prepared an amendment that did not make it to the floor, but suggested that his concerns were addressed.

“When I voted for ENDA in the House in 2007, it did not contain the provisions with regard to gender identity,” said Flake. “Those added provisions have concerned me in terms of potential costs of litigation or compliance. I still have concerns, and I hope that as we work through the process and this bill moves onto the House that we can find ways to make sure that employers can implement these provisions in a way that is reasonable and proper.”

Thanking Baldwin for working with his office on “these issues,” Flake said, “I have a better appreciation for what needs to be done and what we can do with this legislation as it moves through the process.”

Baldwin, speaking at the press conference after the first two votes were taken, said “For folks, like myself, in the LGBT community, the opportunity to be judged in the workplace by your skills and qualities, your loyalty, your work ethic, is an important pronouncement for this nation.”

She talked also about the “symbolic impact” of the vote.

“When we something is wrong and it shouldn’t be done,” said Baldwin, “that sends a powerful message to prevent discrimination in the first place.”

“This is a really tremendous milestone,” said Baldwin, “a day I will never forget in my service in the Senate.”

– Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, November 7, 2013 @ 12:58 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Board prez and Assembly candidate David Chiu ties the knot

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President and state Assembly candidate David Chiu got married over the weekend, according to a post on his Facebook page.

(David Chiu and his new wife, Candace Chen. Photo courtesy Chiu's Facebook page.)

(David Chiu and his new wife, Candace Chen. Photo courtesy Chiu’s Facebook page.)

“On Sunday [October 20], Candace and I were married at Calvary Presbyterian Church in a ceremony surrounded by our family and friends,” Chiu wrote. “I am so happy to be starting our life together. Thanks so much to all of you for your love and support.”

Chiu married Candace Chen, whom he met seven years ago. According to media reports, the two were friends for awhile and she was a volunteer on his 2008 supervisorial campaign.

Chiu is running for the 17th District Assembly seat against his board colleague, gay Supervisor David Campos.

With the two Davids, both Democrats who serve on the local party’s oversight body, often voting similarly on policy issues at City Hall, it is likely that voters will be swayed by other factors, such as race and sexual orientation, in determining which of the two to back, the Bay Area Reporter‘s online Political Notes column reported this week. Campos, 42, would not only maintain LGBT representation in the seat, he would also be the first Latino to represent San Francisco in the state Assembly.

A victory by Chiu, 43, would mark the first time that Asian Americans represented both of the city’s Assembly districts. Last fall Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) won election to the 19th Assembly District covering San Francisco’s western neighborhoods.

— Cynthia Laird, October 24, 2013 @ 12:03 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Updated: SF Pride board retracts self-serving endorsements

[Updated 9/13/13, 6:45 p.m.] Late Friday afternoon, a letter from the San Francisco Pride Committee to members retracted an earlier letter whereby the board members seeking re-election endorsed themselves.

The letter, from Pride board President Davace Chin and Pride’s interim attorney Julius Turman, said in part that the previous 9/12/13 email sent 24 hours prior, “was sent in error and, accordingly, the email and its endorsement message are hereby retracted. We sincerely apologize for this error.

“SF Pride, as an organization, has not and will not make any endorsement of any candidate for its board.”

The letter went on to provide the names of all the candidates running, including those who have been endorsed by San Francisco Pride Members for Democracy, Accountability, and Transparency. Those candidates have been sharply critical of the current Pride board’s operation and decisions made this year.

“We are working diligently to ensure that the board of directors’ election will be conducted fairly, impartially, and with the utmost professionalism. We wish the very best to each of this year’s candidates on their campaign,” the letter concluded. End of update. Original post below.]

Just days before members are set to vote for new board members, incumbent board members sent out their own slate list of endorsed candidates – themselves.

The move raised questions from some board candidates who were not included, since it was sent out on Pride letterhead to the entire membership.

“Recently you received several emails from a group that identifies themselves as SFPMDAT [San Francisco Pride Members for Democracy, Accountability, and Transparency]. Their recent email included a slate of candidates they endorse for SF Pride Board of Directors,” the SF Pride slate letter states. “Pride is a membership-driven organization and while we welcome participation by all of our members, we have received multiple inquiries from other general members about this slate and wish to clear up any confusion.”

The letter continues, “The slate you may have received is not an official endorsement by the current board members of SF Pride. We welcome you to come to our [Annual General Meeting] on Sunday, September 15. There are many good candidates that are running and we hope that you can come, listen to the candidates and make your own decision.”

The letter then listed the slate of incumbent Pride board members Kirk Linn-Degrassi, Pam Grey, Shaun Haines, Justin Taylor, and Javarre Wilson. It also included Community Advisory Board member Rochelle Fortier Nwadibia, who is running for a seat.

The seven-member SFPMDAT slate consists of Kevin Bard, Joey Cain, John Caldera, Jose Cital, Marsha Levine, Jesse Sanford, and Gary Virginia.

(Gary Virginia raised questions about Pride's election process. Photo: David Curan)

(Gary Virginia raised questions about Pride’s election process. Photo: David Curan)

Neither newly installed interim CEO Lisa Williams, who previously served as board president, nor newly appointed President Davace Chin, signed the email. Chin denied any knowledge about it. Williams left a Board of Supervisors hearing Thursday, September 12 and was unavailable to comment.

In response to the Pride board candidates’ self-endorsement, Virginia sent a scathing email to Williams, Chin, Pride attorney Julius Turman, and Supervisors David Campos and Scott Wiener saying it “jeopardized” his candidacy. He also questioned why he was not considered for SF Pride’s endorsement.

Virginia further questioned the fairness of Sunday’s election as incumbent board members seeking re-election will conduct the election and determine the outcome.

Virginia is seeking written answers to seven questions concerning the San Francisco Pride Committee’s unusual self-endorsement before the Sunday election.

“At this point, I’m considering seeking legal counsel to see if any California laws have been violated,” he stated in the email.

Sunday’s Annual General Meeting takes place at 2 p.m. at the W Hotel, 181 Third Street. Registration begins at 1:30.

– Reported by James Patterson

— Cynthia Laird, September 13, 2013 @ 9:59 am PST
Filed under: News

Parties, bike ride kick off Pride weekend in Oakland

Back for a third year, fiveTen Productions has several events planned this weekend, in the run-up to the fourth annual Oakland Pride festival Sunday, September 1.

FiveTen (the Oakland area code) is a mix of dance parties, live performances, and a bike ride. It’s promoted by Eden Pride Events and produced by Christine De La Rosa and Chaney Turner. The events are open to men and women alike.

(The Memorials will headline the fiveTen Pride after-party Sunday in Oakland.)

(The Memorials will headline the fiveTen Pride after-party Sunday in Oakland.)

First up is Casino Royale Friday, August 30, the official Oakland Pride kickoff party. The action takes place at the Den inside the historic Fox Theatre, 1807 Telegraph Avenue, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

There will be blackjack, roulette, craps tables, and more. Guests who purchase advance tickets will earn $100 in credit to play at the tables. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Eden LGBTQ Youth Foundation. DJs Val G, Lay Fingaz, and Trinity will be spinning the hottest beats.

The foundation, which launched earlier this year, is a separate entity from Eden Pride Events. The events are produced by fiveTEN Oakland Events.

On Saturday, August 31, fiveTen will host its second annual Oakland Pride Bike Ride. Participants should meet at lake Merritt (El Embarcadero Street) at 5:30 p.m.; the ride goes from 6 to 8 and ends at New Parish, 579 18th Street, where valet bike parking will be available The ride is free.

Following the ride, New Parish will host WERQ! Vogue Ball until 2 a.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. The party will feature two dance floors, food vendors, an outside patio and a vogue competition. The night will feature some of the bay’s finest voguers, whackers, and house dancers who will all battle it out for cash prizes and ultimate vogueing supremacy. The party is hosted by Lady Lana and Aima the Dreamer.

Finally, fiveTen’s events will conclude Sunday, September 1 with a music fest and after-party from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Oakland Metro, 630 3rd Street. VIP tickets are $20, general admission is $15 in advance or VIP $25, general $20 at the door.

This year’s line-up is amazingly diverse with headliners The Memorials, Lila Rose, Aima the Dreamer joined by Raw G., Billie Jr., Micah Tron, Queens D. Light, we have artists representing multiple genres of music. Hip-hop, R&B, indie rock and soul music.

For more information on any of the above events, visit

As for the Oakland Pride festival, it takes place Sunday, September 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the city’s Uptown district. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids between 2-12. Entrance is at 20th and Broadway, near the 19th Street BART station. For more information, visit

— Cynthia Laird, August 29, 2013 @ 10:58 am PST
Filed under: Arts,News

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