Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 16 / 17 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


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

BLOG_SFO

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


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


Breaking: Frank wants interim Senate post

It looks like former Congressman Barney Frank isn’t quite ready to leave Capitol Hill after all.

Barney Frank, who retired from the House of Representatives this week, is interested in the interim Massachusetts Senate seat. (Photo: Rudy K. Lawidjaja

One day out of retirement as a member of the House of Representatives, Barney Frank said today that he has asked Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to appoint him as the interim senator to replace John Kerry, who is expected to be confirmed Secretary of State later this month.

Frank, a gay Massachusetts Democrat, told MSNBC’s Morning Joe talk show panel on that he would like to serve as U.S. senator from Massachusetts for the several months before a special election chooses Kerry’s replacement.

Host Joe Scarborough, racing to close off the eight-minute free-for-all “exit interview” with Frank, asked: “Former Congressman Barney Frank, would you consider possibly being future Senator Barney Frank if the governor calls you and says …”

“Yeah,” said Frank, before the question was fully out of Scarborough’s mouth.

” … fill in for a few months?”

“A month ago, a few weeks in fact, I said I wasn’t interested,” said Frank. “It was kinda like you’re about to graduate and they said you’ve got to go to summer school. But that [temporary fiscal cliff] deal now means that February, March, and April are going to be among the most important months in American financial …”

“So, you’d consider it?” interjected Scarborough.

“Yes, in fact, I’m not going to be coy, it’s not anything I’ve ever been very good at, but I’ve told the governor that I would like, frankly, to do that because I would like to be a part of that.”

President Barack Obama nominated Kerry December 15 to replace retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Patrick said, at a press conference December 21, that he would not name anyone to the seat until after Kerry is confirmed. But that process is not expected to take long because Kerry appears to have widespread support from his Senate colleagues in both parties.

Other names being tossed around the rumor mill as potential interim senators include Mike Dukakis, a former Democratic governor of Massachusetts, and Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Frank has the advantage of still having a residence and staff in Washington.

Meanwhile, former Senator Scott Brown, a Republican who held the Kennedy seat until he was replaced by newly sworn-in Senator Elizabeth Warren this week, is expected to run for the Kerry seat. And, at the moment, Democrats in Massachusetts appear to be coalescing behind Representative Ed Markey, who has announced his bid for the Kerry seat.

Frank, 70, who just retired after more than 30 years in Congress, said he is not interested in running for the Kerry Senate seat.

- Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, January 4, 2013 @ 10:28 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Breaking: High court delay ‘not unusual,’ Prop 8 attorney says

Marriage equality supporters on the West Coast were up early this morning, awaiting a possible decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on whether to accept for argument the federal Proposition 8 case, but when the court posted its list of cases at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time, there was no mention of that case or several others involving the Defense of Marriage Act.

One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case said that the delay was “not unusual.”
The U.S. Supreme Court once again delayed indicating whether it will hear one or more of 10 petitions before it concerning same-sex marriage.

Attorney Theodore Olson (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Many legal observers expected to learn Monday that the court refused to hear an appeal concerning Prop 8 and an appeal concerning Arizona’s law banning equal benefits for the domestic partners of gay state employees. Both a federal district court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled that Prop 8, passed by California voters four years ago, is unconstitutional. The appeals court put a stay on its decision pending review by the Supreme Court.

But when Monday’s orders list appeared, neither those cases nor any of the eight petitions concerning the Defense of Marriage Act were on it.

[Updated: Later in the morning, the Supreme Court website indicated the justices have rescheduled – or re-listed – all 10 petitions for its next scheduled conference meeting, Friday, December 7.]

Veteran Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston speculated recently that the announcement of a decision not to take up the Prop 8 case could take longer than usual because some justices might be writing dissents from the court’s decision not to review the lower court decision.

Four justices must agree to hear a case in order for it to be taken up for review by the Supreme Court.
A decision not to take up the Prop 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, will mean that same-sex couples will again be able to obtain marriage licenses in California within just a few days – a major development legally and politically. Officials in San Francisco and Los Angeles have been actively preparing for what they expect to be thousands of same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses, since November 2008 when a voter approved initiative amended the state constitution to stop allowing same-sex marriages in the state.

It would also mean that California, the most populous state in the nation, would become the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to enable same-sex couples to marry. That adds up to 28 percent of the U.S. population living in a jurisdiction where same-sex couples can marry.

Of equal concern is how the court will eventually decide to take up the appeals of decisions from three U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal that have struck down DOMA as unconstitutional. The high court could potentially take none, but most legal experts say it is almost certain to accept one or more of the five cases.

In a less visible case, the court has also been asked to hear a case from Arizona, Brewer v. Diaz, challenging a state law that bans equal benefits for gay state employees and their domestic partners.

Gay legal activists are studiously resisting the temptation to speculate about the amount of time the court is taking to decide whether to take any of the cases.

The justices were first scheduled to discuss the cases in conference in late September. That conference was re-scheduled for mid-November and then re-scheduled again for November 30.

Theodore Olson, part of the high-profile legal team that has been successfully challenging Prop 8, said Monday that it’s “not unusual for complex cases to be re-listed,” or be discussed by the justices in more than one of their private conferences.

[Updated: The court could conceivably issue an orders list on any of these cases Friday, following its conference meeting, or next Monday as part of its routine orders list issuance.]

The court could conceivably issue another orders list any day now. It is next scheduled to discuss cases Friday, December 7, and, if it takes one or more of the marriage-related cases, it would likely issue an orders list on Friday. The court’s calendar suggests that, if one or more of the cases is accepted for review, it will likely be argued in late March but could be argued as late as April 24.

- Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, December 3, 2012 @ 8:36 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Come out for Kaplan Saturday

Out at-large Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is having a fundraiser for her re-election campaign this Saturday, October 27 at the Bench and Bar in the city’s Uptown neighborhood. The event, dubbed “Coming Out for Kaplan” is a happy hour reception with LGBTQ and allied supporters.

Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Kaplan is in a tough battle for a second term on the Oakland City Council, as District 5 Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente is also running for the at-large seat, having decided to forgo what would have been an easy re-election in his Fruitvale district.

Several notable LGBT community leaders have signed on as hosts for the event, which takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. at 510 17th Street (at Telegraph). They include former California state Senator Sheila Kuehl, Berkeley City Councilman Darryl Moore, United Democratic Campaign co-director Michael Colbruno, and retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning, who is an elected member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee. The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club, which endorsed Kaplan, is also a host for the event and several of its members are expected to attend.

The happy hour party will include entertainment by comedian Karinda Dobbins and DJ Luna will be spinning. Christiana Remington will serve as emcee.

Tickets range from $16 for one ticket or $50 for two tickets to a maximum of $700 for six tickets. To purchase tickets online, visit http://tinyurl.com/8sd7plf. To RSVP email alicia_at_kaplanforoakland.org or call (510) 463-4WIN.

— Cynthia Laird, October 25, 2012 @ 3:21 pm PST
Filed under: Politics


School board candidate lands big endorsements

Richard Fuentes, an openly gay Oakland resident who’s running for a seat on the city’s school board, this week announced three big endorsements for his campaign.

At a fundraising brunch Sunday, August 26, at La Borinquene Mexican Delicatessen, Fuentes told the crowd that he has been endorsed by Oakland Teachers Association. He also introduced the president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, Barry Donelan, who said that his group has endorsed Fuentes.

Candidate Richard Fuentes (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

On his Facebook page today, Fuentes posted that he received the endorsement of the East Bay Young Democrats.

Fuentes, 30, works as a legislative aide for Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who was at the event and praised him as the type of leader the financially strapped school district needs.

“He’s committed to education, in this case obviously, schoolchildren,” De La Fuente said. “I’m 100 percent behind Richard.”

He added that Fuentes, who was 26 when he interviewed for the council staff job four years ago, has grown while working at City Hall and that the school district faces many challenges with which Fuentes can help.

“He’s running to move them forward,” the councilman added.

For his part, Fuentes told the audience that as the president of the Hoover Elementary School Site Council and a leader in the school’s PTA group, he has worked to transform the school. Wanting to get students off the street and into classrooms, Hoover now has a truancy center, Fuentes said. He also has a science and technology initiative and is “very focused on teacher retention.”

“We laid off no teachers” at Hoover, he said, referencing the school board’s decision earlier this year to close five campuses.

During his remarks, Donelan said that the police officers union does not usually get involved in school board races.

“What we’re looking for here is leadership. The OPOA unequivocally endorses Richard for school board,” Donelan said.

Fuentes is challenging incumbent Jumoke Hinton-Hodge in District 3, which includes the West Oakland neighborhood. His platform includes reducing the drop-out rate and increasing classroom funding.

Fuentes’s boyfriend is Sean Sullivan, who is running for the District 3 City Council seat. De La Fuente is locked in a race for the council’s at-large seat against lesbian incumbent Rebecca Kaplan.

— Cynthia Laird, August 30, 2012 @ 10:58 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


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