Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Christina Olague tapped as D5 supe

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee this morning named Christina Olague as the new supervisor for District 5. Olague, who had served as president of the Planning Commission, was sworn in around 10:30 a.m.

An out bisexual Latina, Olague was an early member of the “Run Ed Run” campaign to encourage Lee to seek a full four-year term.

“Christina Olague is my appointment for District 5 supervisor,” Lee said in a statement. “As a low-income tenant and immigration advocate, she shares my values in making government more fair and responsive for San Francisco residents. She has been a voice for our neighborhoods and has proven through her voting record on the Planning Commission that what San Francisco needs most right now is job creation and revitalizing our local economy.”

District 5 covers the Haight Ashbury, Lower Haight, Fillmore, Western Addition, Parnassus Heights, North Panhandle, Anza Vista, Lower Pacific Heights, Japantown, part of Hayes Valley, part of Ashbury Heights, and part of UCSF Parnassus Heights.

Olague will fill the term of former Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who was sworn in Sunday as sheriff. She is expected to run for a full term when the odd-numbered districts are up this November.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on Olague in Thursday’s edition.

— Cynthia Laird, January 9, 2012 @ 12:49 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

DOMA repeal leaves Senate panel but faces hurdles

The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday voted to recommend passage of a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

The bill is the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 598). Thursday’s 10-8 vote along partisan lines had been originally scheduled for November 3 but was postponed a week at the request of Republicans on the committee.

Republican Charles Grassley (Iowa) criticized Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) for putting the bill on the committee’s agenda, saying the committee should, instead, be taking up “bills that can pass” and which address the country’s financial problems. Grassley said S. 598 “lacks the votes to pass the Senate” and that, even if it does pass the Senate, “it will not be taken up in the House,” which is controlled by Republicans.

Grassley repeatedly referred to the measure as the “Restoration of Marriage Act,” instead of Respect for Marriage, and said it would not accomplish “restoration of any rights,” but rather create “new rights that same-sex couples have never had under federal law.”

He also said there is a “universal religious view” that marriage is “about procreation and child-bearing.”

“To me, this debate is about stable families, good environments for raising children, and religious belief,” said Grassley. “It is not about discriminating against anyone. No society has limited marriage to heterosexual couples because of a desire to create second-class families.”

He rebuffed the arguments of many, including the bill’s chief sponsor, California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) (shown at right), that the fight to repeal DOMA is reminiscent of the fight to repeal laws that barred interracial marriages. Quoting Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Grassley said such comparisons can be “deeply offensive” to African Americans.

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper offered some support for Grassley’s concerns about “priorities” but also spoke about “what marriage means in America today.”

“Today’s hearing was a principled discussion about the meaning of federalism, the priorities of our nation in a challenging time, and what marriage means in America today,” said Cooper.

Feinstein noted, in her remarks Thursday, that a large group of corporations filed a legal brief recently highlighting the ways DOMA burdens them with red tape and requires they treat employees differently if they are gay.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, issued a statement saying, “President Obama applauds today’s vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the Respect for Marriage Act, which would provide a legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The president has long believed that DOMA is discriminatory and has called for its repeal. We should all work toward taking this law off the books. The federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections afforded to straight couples.”

Evan Wolfson, head of the national Freedom to Marry group, noted that support for the Respect for Marriage Act has grown to 31 co-sponsors in the Senate and 133 in the House.

“The historic growth in support among lawmakers for repealing DOMA mirrors the growth in public support for the freedom to marry to what is now a solid majority nationwide,” said Wolfson.

Recent polling has begun to show a consistent trend in public opinion supporting the right of same-sex couples to get married. A survey of 1,001 adults nationwide by ABC and the Washington Post in July found 51 percent “think it should be legal for gay and lesbians couples to get married.”

Supporters of the legislation will need 60 votes to overcome will almost certainly be a filibuster of the legislation should Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) bring it to the floor. noted that Feinstein acknowledged to reporters after the hearing that the bill does not have those 60 votes and that she has not spoken to Reid about the bill.

– Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, November 10, 2011 @ 11:17 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Senate panel OKs gay judicial nominee; puts off DOMA repeal vote

On a voice vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee today recommended the confirmation of openly gay attorney Michael Fitzgerald (pictured at right) to serve on the federal bench in Los Angeles. But, at the request of Republicans, the committee postponed its vote on a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) announced during the November 3 business meeting that Senator Charles Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the committee, had asked that the vote on the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 598) be held over until next week.

Leahy granted the bill’s chief sponsor, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), an opportunity to speak for the bill. Feinstein noted that the Defense of Marriage Act had been passed “five years ago,” in 1996, when no state had yet made it possible for same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses. (She later corrected her remarks to note that it had been passed 15 years ago.) Today, said Feinstein, six states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Now,” she said, “there are 131,000 same-sex couples in the United States. They are real people.” And DOMA, she said, “is the pernicious denial” of equal rights to that class of legally married couples.
Leahy himself compared DOMA to laws that once prohibited interracial marriages.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) quoted the 19th century French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville as having marveled at the United States’ “march to equality.” The repeal of DOMA, said Schumer, “will be a large step in that direction.”

“It will happen,” said Schumer. “It will happen. Let’s just hope it happens sooner rather than later.”

The Respect for Marriage vote is now scheduled for Thursday, November 10.

President Barack Obama’s nomination of Fitzgerald advanced with minimal opposition expressed by Republicans. Fitzgerald, 52, has been fairly heavily involved in both gay and non-gay legal and political issues. He noted himself that he spent “hundreds of hours” doing pro bono work that led to the elimination of a ban on gay people from service as FBI agents. That history prompted the only Republican in attendance at his confirmation hearing last month to label him an “activist.”

– Written by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, November 3, 2011 @ 11:03 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Current Headlines

Breaking: Ex-AIDS czar lashes out at Lee, Chiu at mayoral forum

Interim San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu came under withering attack at Wednesday night’s mayoral forum on HIV and AIDS issues.


Leno: EQCA ‘unstable’

State Senator Mark Leno is expressing serious doubts about the future of Equality California, the largest – and only – statewide LGBT lobbying organization.


Let the sun shine in

At age 79, the co-creator and one of the original Broadway stars of Hair is feeling a return of some of the counterculture energy that defined a generation more than four decades ago and helped turn Hair into one of the icons of that period.


In the heart of the heart of the circus

Last summer Out There was among a small group of journalists invited to tour the Cirque du Soleil International Headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, the hub of artistic, administrative and media efforts for Cirque productions worldwide.

— admin, October 20, 2011 @ 2:47 pm PST
Filed under: Blogroll,Politics

Senate confirms lesbian judge to federal bench

The Senate voted Thursday to confirm the nomination of lesbian attorney Alison Nathan to serve as a federal district court judge.

The roll call vote was 48-44, thus securing Nathan’s (right) appointment to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan. No Republicans voted for her confirmation; no Democrats voted against her.

Nathan’s was one of three judicial nominations considered by the Senate Thursday and one of two “non-consensus nominees.”

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) spoke in opposition to Nathan’s confirmation, saying she is too supportive of examining foreign law and not supportive enough of the death penalty. He said her willingness to review the values behind foreign law is Nathan’s strategy for finding law to reach a result that U.S. law would not support.

“Her record,” said Sessions, “evidences an activist viewpoint. … She has the real potential to be an activist judge.”

During her confirmation hearing, Nathan said foreign law would have “no relevance to my interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.” But she acknowledged that there is “an important debate” on “what role the Supreme Court’s reference to foreign law is playing in the Court’s decision. …” She has also written that the three-drug protocol for implementing the death penalty inflicts “severe pain,” violating the 8th Amendment’s guarantee that the federal government will not inflict “cruel or unusual punishment.”

Republican Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma hinted strongly in July that they would likely oppose Nathan’s confirmation on the floor of the Senate. Both cited what they saw as Nathan’s lack of experience with litigation, and Coburn suggested she would been an “activist judge.”

On the Senate floor Thursday, Coburn did not speak. But Grassley, ranking minority member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, reiterated Republican criticism of Nathan, noting the American Bar Association suggests “at least 12 years’ experience in the practice of law” and “substantial courtroom and trial experience” for judicial nominees.

Nathan, 39, “graduated only 11 years ago,” said Grassley, and has been practicing law for only eight years.

The ABA standards also note that there is merit in “experience that is similar to in-court trial work – such as appearing before or serving on administrative agencies or arbitration boards, or teaching trial advocacy or other clinical law school courses. …” This similar experience, say the ABA guidelines, “may compensate for a prospective nominee’s lack of substantial courtroom experience.”

But Grassley said he had other concerns about Nathan, including her position on the 2nd Amendment, the death penalty, the reference to foreign law in examining U.S. law, and what measures may be used in the war on terror.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) noted that, while the ABA’s committee on judicial nominations did not vote unanimously that Nathan is well-qualified to serve as a federal judge, the majority did. And Nathan’s rating, he said, “is equal to or better than the rating received by 33 of President Bush’s confirmed judicial nominees.”

Nathan is counselor to the New York State solicitor general and, prior to that, served as a special assistant to President Barack Obama. Nathan clerked for now-retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, as well as 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Betty Fletcher.

She is a former assistant professor of law at Fordham University, a former associate of the Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr law firm, and a former fellow at New York University Law School.

So far, the Senate has cleared two of Obama’s four openly gay judicial nominees. In addition to Nathan, the Senate has confirmed Paul Oetken, also to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Obama’s most recent openly gay nominee, Michael Fitzpatrick, a nominee for the federal district court in Los Angeles, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee October 4. A committee vote on his nomination is expected in the coming weeks.

But federal appeals court nominee Edward DuMont has still not received even a committee hearing. A committee staffer said Republicans are still “reviewing” his qualifications.

With her confirmation, Nathan becomes the third openly gay judge in that federal district – along with Deborah Batts and Oetken. She becomes the fourth openly gay federal judge in the country – along with Emily Hewitt of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Batts and Hewitt were both appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Filed by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, October 13, 2011 @ 11:54 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Breaking: Dufty snags Victory Fund endorsement

Out gay San Francisco mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty today received the endorsement of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. The national group, which works to elect qualified open LGBT candidates, is expected to make the formal announcement Sunday, March 20 at its 20th anniversary brunch in Washington, D.C.

Dufty, 56, a former supervisor, had been seeking the high-profile national LGBT group’s backing in his race for mayor. He recently abandoned his self-imposed donation policy of accepting funds only from people who live or work in the city. The change – Dufty now accepts the maximum $500 per donor – means he can accept money nationally, including donations from Victory Fund members.

Dufty (pictured at right) was pleased with organization’s decision.

“I’m really appreciative of them making an early endorsement,” Dufty told the Bay Area Reporter from D.C.

[Updated: Victory Fund spokesman Denis Dison said the group was proud to endorse Dufty.

“About 30 cities in the country have LGBT mayors,” Dison said. “San Francisco is long overdue for one.”

Dison said Dufty is an “extremely viable” candidate. “Obviously he knows the city like the back of his hand,” he added.

For his part, Dufty said the Victory Fund has given him invaluable training; he recently attended the group’s candidate sessions in Las Vegas.

“The Victory Fund has been singularly important in giving me a new direction with my campaign,” he said.]

In recent years, the Victory Fund has endorsed early in big-city mayoral contests. The group’s support was seen as key in the election two years ago of out lesbian Annise Parker as mayor of Houston. The Victory Fund has already endorsed Parker in her re-election race this November.

In the wide-open race to be San Francisco mayor, Dufty is so far the only out gay candidate. The filing deadline for the race is in August. This year the city will use rank choice voting in the mayor’s race.

The B.A.R. will have more on Dufty’s endorsement in Thursday’s edition.

— Cynthia Laird, March 19, 2011 @ 12:34 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

New chief of staff an ‘internal advocate’

President Barack Obama announced today that White House senior adviser Peter Rouse will take over as his chief of staff, replacing Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel is leaving his post to launch a campaign to run for mayor of Chicago. The change is effective immediately.

Rouse (pictured at right), for many years, worked for former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle (D), a strong supporter of equal rights for gays. He joined then Obama’s Senate staff after Daschle lost his re-election bid in 2004.
Daschle told the Washington Post’s that Rouse “has an amazing capacity to bring disparate people together and create unity in a level of cooperation and chemistry that is remarkable.”

“Unlike the forceful Emanuel,” said the Post, “Rouse is described as a compromiser who is ‘completely ego-free,’ in the words of President Obama.”

Democratic activist David Mixner has blamed Emanuel for blocking progress on LGBT issues in the Clinton White House. He had a falling out with Emanuel over President Clinton’s willingness to consider separate facilities for gay service members.
He said Emanuel essentially ignored him when he tried to get Clinton’s help to secure permits for the 1993 National March on Washington for gay civil rights.

Mixner was not available for comment Friday, but in an interview with political blogger Bil Browning in March, Mixner said he thinks Emanuel has continued to be “gun shy” around gay issues in the Obama White House, with an attitude of “don’t touch the gay community early.”

Emanuel, Mixner said, “didn’t learn the lesson about being prepared.”

“He just said that we were toxic and I think we have enabled them to believe that,” said Mixner. “… I think Rahm has brought that attitude into the White House on a lot of issues – health care, gays and lesbians …”

In his press conference Friday morning, Obama kidded that Emanuel and Rouse have two “different styles.” Emanuel is widely characterized as bullish advocate for the president’s agenda. Rouse is seen as more cooperative.

Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said nothing is known about Rouse’s attitudes on LGBT specific issues.

“But there’s plenty of folks that think great things of him,” said Sainz, “and think he’s thoughtful and responsive.”

Democratic activist Hilary Rosen said she doesn’t think the changing of the guard will open doors any wider for LGBT activists.

“Rahm leaving doesn’t change the policies the White House pursues or the president’s commitment to making progress on our issues,” said Rosen. “But it is true that Pete has long been known as someone who is an internal advocate for us and will make sure that the president has the best options when it comes to moving a civil rights agenda.”

– by Lisa Keen

— admin, October 1, 2010 @ 10:13 am PST
Filed under: Politics

Chronicle columnists out Prop 8 trial judge

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who is presiding over the federal Proposition 8 trial, was outed Sunday, February 7 in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In their Matier & Ross column, Phil Matier and Andy Ross write that Walker (right), who was appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, “has never taken pains to disguise – or advertise – his orientation.” The column is “exclusive” to the paper’s Sunday print edition and won’t be online until Monday.

The column states that Walker, 65, offered a “no comment” when asked if he had any concerns about “being characterized as gay.”

Matier and Ross talked to several gay San Francisco politicos and lawyers, none of whom believe Walker’s being gay will influence how he rules in the case now before him, known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, two same-sex couples denied the right to marry in the Golden State, tried to show during the 12-day trial last month that there is no rational basis for Prop 8 and that it harms same-sex couples and their children.

Evidence in the case is now being reviewed before Walker hears closing arguments, likely to take place sometime in March.

The columnists wrote that Walker’s orientation is an open secret among those involved in the Prop 8 case.

Openly gay State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) told the columnists that Walker’s background is a nonissue. “It seems curious to me,” Leno told the paper, that when the state Supreme Court heard a challenge to Prop 8, the justices’ sexual orientation “was never discussed.”

A federal judge who is friends with Walker called the columnists to state that Walker does not want people to think he “wants to conceal his sexuality.”

“He has a private life and he doesn’t conceal it, but doesn’t think it is relevant to his decisions in any case, and he doesn’t bring it to bear in any decisions,” said the judge, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the Prop 8 trial.

For their part, defenders of Prop 8 told the paper that they have no plans to make an issue of Walker being gay.

“We’re not going to say anything about that,” Prop 8 general counsel Andy Pugno said.

Walker himself drew the ire of gay rights activists back in the 1980s when, as a private attorney, he represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in its successful effort to bar the San Francisco Gay Olympics from using the word “Olympics.” The quadrennial event is now known as the Gay Games.

— Cynthia Laird, February 7, 2010 @ 8:50 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Milk club changes bylaws to allow for co-chairs

The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club voted to change its bylaws Tuesday night, and for the first time in its history, it will now allow for co-chairs to be elected rather than having one president.

The city’s more progressive queer political group has tried to dump its one-person-as-titular-head structure for several years. But the proposals never garnered the two-thirds vote needed to pass. This time the measure surpassed the 66 percent threshold, said club officials.

The Milk club did not, however, completely abandon having one president. The club could still choose to elect one person to oversee it, or it can decide to elect two co-chairs, so long as the duo is one man and one woman.

The more moderate Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club has long had a co-chair structure so that there is always a man and a woman leading the club. In alternating years it elects either the male co-chair or the female co-chair who then serve two-year terms.

The last time the Milk Club had a female president was in 2002, when Debra Walker held the presidency. The lack of gender parity in its top position led some club members to push for the change in its leadership structure.

It is unclear just what effect the new rules will have on whom the club elects to lead it in 2010. In January the current president, Rafael Mandelman, plans to step down after serving in the post the last two years, and as of now, no one person or team of two club members has mounted a campaign to oversee the club.

Next year is a crucial election year, as voters in San Francisco will elect a new Democratic County Central Committee in June and in November vote for supervisors in even numbered districts, including District 8 in the Castro and District 6 in the South of Market area, where queer candidates will likely be top vote-getters.

The June election is especially crucial, as the DCCC decides whom the local Democratic Party endorses in the November general election. In 2008 progressives claimed a majority of DCCC seats and helped to then elect a progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors.

The Milk Club played a key role in those elections, and progressive leaders will be looking for the club, and in large part its president (or co-chairs) to help achieve similar victories next year.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 25, 2009 @ 11:18 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Magnet to host first D8 Town Hall

Magnet, the gay men’s health center in the Castro, next week will play host to the first town hall with the major candidates running for District 8 supervisor.

All four of the well-known out candidates competing to succeed termed out Supervisor Bevan Dufty in 2010 have agreed to attend the event. Dufty, who is running for mayor in 2011, will also be on hand at the public’s first chance to meet and greet the wannabe supes contenders. The town hall will run from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, October 27.

The get together comes one night after the board of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is set to vote on a contentious proposal to suspend its bylaws and do an early dual endorsement for D8 candidates Rebecca Prozan and Scott Wiener.

The idea to split Alice’s nod between the two former co-chairs of the club is roiling the more moderate LGBT political group and has incensed the campaign of Laura Spanjian, another past Alice co-chair.

Along with shutting Spanjian out of the competition for Alice’s endorsement, the proposal would also block former Alice board member Rafael Mandelman from the endorsement process altogether. Wiener’s and Prozan’s backers say they have the votes needed to push through the dual endorsement, but Spanjian’s supporters have been hitting the phone lines to try to stop it in its tracks.

The Alice board meets behind closed doors, so it will be interesting to see if the internal club dispute spills out into the open Tuesday night.

That same evening the more progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club is set to vote on whether to give its endorsement in the D8 race to Mandelman, its current president. Considering none of the other candidates plan to be at the Milk Club meeting, which starts at the same time as the town hall, it is a safe bet that Mandelman has the endorsement locked up.

Magnet is located at 4122 18th Street, while the Milk Club meeting takes place at the Women’s Building at 3543 18th Street.

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 22, 2009 @ 10:37 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

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