Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 34 / 21 August 2014
 

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 whorunsgov.com 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


SF Supe Daly denounces homophobic caller

After the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notebook reported last week that a gay man who publicly opposed a change to the city’s sanctuary city policy received a homophobic phone message, liberal San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly contacted the paper to denounce the hate speech.

The anonymous caller left the diatribe on the answering machine of Colin Gallagher, who had spoken out against legislation that would restrict city officials from reporting illegal immigrant youth who are arrested to federal immigration authorities until after they are convicted of their crimes.

The unidentified male caller contacted Gallagher at home and left him a message that both attacked Gallagher and praised Daly, who supports the policy change introduced by openly gay Supervisor David Campos.

Following the publication of the column in the October 15 edition of the B.A.R, Daly e-mailed to say he was surprised to see his name come up in the item and denounced the caller for using hate speech in a policy dispute.

“As you know, I have prided myself on my work on behalf of San Francisco’s LGBT community and immigrant communities. I truly believe that peoples’ liberation struggles are interdependent,” wrote Daly. “I also take this opportunity to denounce the homophobic comment reported in your column, as I denounce the many racist and anti-immigrant comments that I have received.”

At their meeting Tuesday, October 20 the Board of Supervisors passed Campos’ legislation by a mayoral-veto-proof majority of 8-2, with Supervisors Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd opposed. Supervisor Michela Alioto Pier was excused to attend a funeral, while openly gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a mayoral candidate in 2011, provided the vote needed to block Mayor Gavin Newsom’s veto threat.

But the mayor’s spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle that the policy change is unenforceable and will be ignored by the mayor.

“The Campos bill isn’t worth the paper it’s written on – it’s unenforceable and he knows that,” Ballard told the daily paper. “We are not going to put our law enforcement officers in legal jeopardy just because the Board of Supervisors wants to make a statement.”

To read the rest of the Chronicle’s coverage of the policy dispute, visit http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2009/10/21/MNO61A8DTN.DTL.

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 21, 2009 @ 2:42 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Milk Day bill clears Senate

Just a few days shy of what would have been Harvey Milk’s 79th birthday, the state Senate on Thursday, May 14 passed legislation that creates Harvey Milk Day in California in honor of the state’s first openly gay elected official.

SB 572, authored by state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), cleared the Senate with a 24-14 bipartisan vote. The bill designates May 22, Milk’s birthday, as a day of special significance in California. It would not be a paid holiday.

“Harvey Milk is an inspiration to Californians who believe in fairness and equality,” Leno said in a statement. “He fought for many of the issues we value today, including access to education, public transportation, affordable housing, and the environment. Harvey Milk gave his life for what he believed in.”

Milk, who represented the Castro while on the board, was assassinated along with then-Mayor George Moscone by ex-Supervisor Dan White in November 1978. The City Hall killings shocked the city. Next week, May 21, is the 30th anniversary of the White Night riots, when people angrily took to the streets after a jury convicted White of manslaughter instead of murder.

SB 572 is sponsored by Equality California and co-authored by 22 members of the Legislature, including out lawmakers Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), and Assemblymen Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and John Perez (D-Los Angeles).

The bill now goes to the Assembly, where it will be heard in committee.

— Cynthia Laird, May 14, 2009 @ 3:26 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics


No on 8 weekend challenge

Go to www.calitics.com for a weekend fundraising challenge for No on 8! Brian Devine will match all contributions up to $1,000.

— Cynthia Laird, October 10, 2008 @ 7:56 pm PST
Filed under: Politics


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