Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 30 / 23 July 2015

Supreme Court OKs same-sex marriage

The United States Supreme Court Friday, June 26 ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry.

Supreme Court

The 5-4 decision, in Obergefell v. Hodges, means that same-sex marriage is now recognized in all 50 states. The decision, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and that states have to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when it is lawfully licensed out of state.

Prior to the ruling, 37 states plus the District of Columbia allowed gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot.

Couples from four states – Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee – were part of the consolidated case, which looked at two questions: 1) Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

Coming in the midst of Pride Week in cities like San Francisco and New York, the decision likely means joyous crowds will swell at this weekend’s festivities.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the court’s decision soon.

— Cynthia Laird, June 26, 2015 @ 7:05 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Re-installation set for defaced gay mural in SF’s Mission district

A gay-themed mural on the Bryant Street exterior wall of the Mission district's Galeria de la Raza was recently defaced with black spray paint. Photo: Rick Gerharter

A gay-themed mural on the Bryant Street exterior wall of the Mission district’s Galeria de la Raza was recently defaced with black spray paint. Photo: Rick Gerharter

A defaced mural depicting gay Latinos in San Francisco’s Mission district will be re-installed Friday, June 26, Galeria de la Raza, the gallery hosting the mural, has announced.

The re-installation will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the gallery, 2857 24th Street. There will be a vigil at 8 p.m.

The mural, known as Por Vida (“For Life”), has been vandalized three times in recent days. Police are investigating the incidents as a hate crime, according to the gallery. The digital piece shows a gay couple, a transgender man, and a lesbian couple.

“This gathering will be an action for strength and positivity as we cope with the rupture our communities have recently experienced and to celebrate Chican@/Latin@ LGBTQ visibility,” Ani Rivera, the gallery’s executive director, said in a statement today (Thursday, June 25).

The gallery also plans to have a community forum. A date is expected to be announced soon.

In an interview earlier this week, Rivera, who identifies as a queer Chicana and lives in the Mission, said the mural is meant “to bring visibility to a sector of our community, and we’re not going to stop because of the threats.”

Artist Manuel Paul, in a recent statement released by the gallery, explained the reason for the mural.

“Por Vida was created to celebrate the LGTBQ Chican@/Latin@ culture within the context of a historically Chicano barrio,” Paul, who worked on the mural and is with the Los Angeles-based Maricon Collective, said, using the @ symbol to refer to Chicanos or Chicanas. “Through our art and our work we present counterstories that reflect queers growing up in the Barrio.”



— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 25, 2015 @ 6:40 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SFPD urges safety during LGBT Pride weekend

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 5.30.27 PMThe San Francisco Police Department is urging people to be safe during the city’s LGBT Pride weekend.

The Pride celebration and parade are Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28, and the giant Pink Party street festival in the Castro is also set for Saturday. The festivities draw hundreds of thousands of people to the city’s streets each year, and bars will be packed throughout the weekend.

“The San Francisco Police Department joins the LGBT community at large in celebrating Pride Week,” Police Chief Greg Suhr said in a news release today (Thursday, June 25). “Along with our members, we’re working with many groups in a spirit of cooperation and good-will to make Pride Week 2015 a positive and safe experience for all.”

Police officials said, “There will be a significant police presence during the activities, with both uniformed and plain clothes officers on duty to monitor the events,” but safety “is the responsibility of all parties involved including participants, organizers, security staff and the police.”

Alcohol won’t be allowed in the streets at Pink Party, police noted, and “officers will patrol the venue and will be alert for persons possessing open containers of, or consuming alcoholic beverages, on streets, sidewalks and parks.

Police also offered several safety tips, including:

  • “Look out for each other and report any suspicious persons or activity to bar staff, Pride event staff or a police officer. A good adage is, ‘If you see something, say something.'”
  • “Drink responsibly and be aware of your drink.”
  • “Don’t drink and drive; Always use a designated driver.”
  • “Maintain possession of your cell phone, iPod, wallet and other valuables. 
One of the best protections is staying as a group with friends when on the street or leaving bars and clubs. Be cautious about leaving a bar or club with a stranger. A rule of thumb is that, if you feel “unsure” about another, rely on that instinct and do not go with that person.”

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story today, Pride officials are also encouraging people to be safe this weekend.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:25 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

BART police adopt transgender policy

BART police have adopted a policy guiding how officers will deal with transgender people, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has announced.

The policy aims to foster “respect and good will by addressing people how they wish to be addressed with regard to gender,” BART officials said in a June 24 news release.

For instance, the policy says, “if gender expression does not clearly indicate a transgender person’s identity, an officer may politely and respectfully ask how the person wishes to be addressed. For example, an officer may ask a transgender person which name and pronoun the transgender person prefers.”

BART police Chief Kenton W. Rainey. Photo: BART

BART police Chief Kenton W. Rainey. Photo: BART

BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey stated, “This policy is a reflection of our commitment to the community policing philosophy. Taking the time to involve our community stakeholders in this process only serves to strengthen our partnerships with various diverse communities we serve.”

In the news release, BART Independent Police Auditor Mark P. Smith said, “No specific problem or complaint spurred the action. The idea came from working with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement and the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service. The recommendation came from BART’s Citizen Review Board.

Officials said when the policy was being drafted last year, most other law enforcement agencies didn’t have similar policies.

“We feel that we have made a historic accomplishment,” Sharon Kidd, who chairs the Citizen Review Board, stated. “… We have such diversity in the Bay Area. It is very important for us to follow the model of what our charge is to do, which is to enhance the transparency of the BART Police Department.”

The policy also changes BART police recordkeeping, so that forms will include transgender data.

“While federal data, such as Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, may not include such options yet, this could possibly influence society in a larger way,” according to BART.

The policy also addresses how to treat people when they’re wearing prosthetics, makeup, and wigs, and when those items may need to be removed. It’s also designed to ensure transgender people who are detained have access to hormone therapy and other medical attention, “with the same urgency and respect as medical issues for other detained persons,” officials said.

The Oakland-based Transgender Law Center and the National Center for Transgender Equality were among those who provided input for the policy.

In a statement to the Bay Area Reporter today (Thursday, June 25), Krish Hayashi, TLC’s executive director, said, “This policy is a really important first step to reduce the harassment, abuse, targeting, and criminalization of transgender people who are just trying to go about their day, especially when you consider the larger context of police brutality against communities of color, specifically black communities. … As we have seen time and time again it is dangerous when police don’t know how to interact with and respect the needs of a community. Transgender people face alarming rates of incarceration and harassment, and we hope this policy pushes forward the conversation about ending violence, including state-sanctioned violence, against transgender people in the Bay Area.”

As the B.A.R. noted in a story today, data on how often transgender people face harassment in the Bay Area jails is hard to come by.

NCTE didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man hit with bat after Castro argument

A man was hit with a baseball bat as he ran from a store in San Francisco’s Castro district this week.

The incident, which started with “a verbal argument,” occurred at 12:45 a.m. Sunday, June 21 in the 3900 block of 18th Street, near Sanchez Street, according to Officer Grace Gatpandan, a police spokeswoman.

As the victim, 44, argued with another man Sunday, the victim kicked the shop’s front door, causing the glass to shatter. The suspect chased him from the store with the bat and hit him in the elbow and on the back of the legs with it, Gatpandan said.

The victim suffered a broken elbow and a contusion to the back of his legs. The suspect was described as a white male age 35 to 40.

In another recent Castro incident, a woman was robbed at 18th and Hartford streets Saturday, June 20.

The victim, a 26-year-old woman, was walking at 9:40 p.m. when the suspect approached her, grabbed her purse, and shook it. The woman’s tablet and perfume fell out. The man took the items and fled on foot.

The suspect was described as a black male in his 20s. The victim sustained redness to her neck.

No arrests have been reported in either case.

Anyone with information in the cases may call the SFPD anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444. People may also text a tip to TIP411. Type SFPD in the subject line.

The incident number for the incident at 18th and Sanchez is 150540910. The number for the 18th and Hartford case is 150539026.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 24, 2015 @ 11:46 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Parks service declares Chicago house newest LGBT national landmark

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

               Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The former home of a prominent gay rights activist in Chicago is now the country’s second LGBT site to be deemed a National Historic Landmark.

The Henry Gerber House in Chicago joins New York City’s famous Stonewall Inn, considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, as a federally recognized historic landmark 15 years after the gay bar received its designation.

Timed to coincide with Pride month, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who signed off on the landmarking, and the National Park Service announced the news this afternoon (Friday, June 19).

“The National Park Service is America’s storyteller, and it is important that we tell a complete story of the people and events responsible for building this great nation,” stated Jewell. “As we honor the pioneering work of Henry Gerber and the pivotal role this home played in expanding and fighting for equality for all Americans, we help ensure that the quest for LGBT civil rights will be told and remembered for generations to come.”

Given city landmark status in 2001 by Chicago officials, the residence is where Gerber lived in the early 1920s when he formed the Society for Human Rights, the first American gay civil rights organization, according to its listing on the Chicago Landmarks website. It is located at 1710 North Crilly Court in the Windy City’s Old Town Triangle neighborhood.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story in January of 2014, the federal landmarks program worked with University of Michigan at Ann Arbor Professor Michelle McClellan and her students on the nomination for Gerber’s house.

Starting in 1924, the house served as the headquarters and meeting place for the Society for Human Rights. The Society’s members held lectures, published a newsletter that was the earliest-documented gay-oriented periodical in the country, and worked to change the minds of legal and political authorities, noted the park service.

The Society’s chartered status and newsletter “were unprecedented” in the history of the gay rights movement in the U.S., according to the park service, and preceded better-known efforts by more than two decades. Although the house was the site of the earliest documented efforts toward LGBT emancipation, added the park service, the social and political climate led to the swift dissolution of the Society in 1925 after police arrested Gerber and several other members.

Although no warrant was produced, Gerber was taken into custody and his belongings confiscated. The organization’s collapse illustrates substantial obstacles in the struggle for civil rights, noted the park service.

“The struggles and achievements of Henry Gerber within the walls of this house resonate in the ongoing LGBT civil rights movement,” stated National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The desire to share his story is part of the National Park Service’s ongoing commitment, as it approaches its Centennial in 2016, to preserve and tell a more complete, inclusive, and diverse history of our country.”

The Gerber house recognition comes as park service officials seek more LGBT sites to add to the National Register of Historic Places and for consideration to be designated as a National Historic Landmark. There are more than 2,500 noteworthy archaeological and historic properties recognized by the National Historic Landmarks Program.

Work is also underway on a National Historic Landmark LGBTQ Theme Study and proposed framework for the National Park Service, which includes an online map of LGBT historic sites from across the U.S. The document is set to be completed in 2016.

As part of its National Park Service LGBTQ Initiative, the federal agency has asked historians, preservationists, and archivists who specialize in LGBT history to suggest sites that warrant being listed on the national register or designated as historical landmarks.

According to park service officials, just six properties in the country have been granted some form of federal historic preservation recognition specifically due to their relationship to LGBT history. The other four sites are in the National Register of Historic Places, described by the park service as “the nation’s inventory of properties deemed central to its history and worthy of recognition and preservation.”

The quartet comprises the Dr. Franklin E. Kameny Residence in Washington, D.C. (listed 2011); the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut (listed 2013); and Fire Island properties the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater (listed 2013) and the Carrington House (listed 2014).

Kameny in 1957 was fired from his federal government job for refusing to answer questions about his sexual orientation. Considered “the father of gay activism,” he died in 2011 at the age of 86.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Ingram Merrill, a celebrated American poet who died in 1995 at the age of 68, and his partner, David Noyes Jackson, who died in 2001 at the age of 76, bought their Stonington home in 1956. Merrill wrote almost all of his important works, including 25 volumes of poetry, three plays and two books, while residing in the house.

The Carrington House is considered “an important link” in Fire Island’s development as a gay resort area on the East Coast. The Cherry Grove property opened in 1948 and is considered the country’s “longest continuously operating gay and lesbian theater.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 19, 2015 @ 1:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Two men robbed with guns in Castro incidents

A giant rainbow flag overlooks San Francisco’s Castro district. Photo: Rick Gerharter

A giant rainbow flag overlooks San Francisco’s Castro district. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Two men walking in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood were robbed with guns last night (Tuesday, June 16) in separate incidents. Police provided limited suspect descriptions that suggested the robberies may be related, but it hasn’t been confirmed that the cases are linked.

[Update]: Officer Grace Gatpandan, a police spokeswoman, said in an email, “These two incidents are being investigated by separate teams. They’ll definitely look at the possibility of them being related but as of now, no correlation yet.”[End update]

No arrests have been made in either robbery.

The first incident occurred at 10 p.m. at 19th and Hartford streets. Four Hispanic men in their 20s brandished a handgun at the victim and demanded money, according to Gatpandan.

After the victim, 67, refused to give the men his money, he was hit with the gun, and the suspects took his wallet, cash, credit cards, and ID before fleeing the scene. The man suffered a trauma wound to the face and was treated and released at the scene.

A similar robbery happened about an hour and a half later at 21st and Castro streets, just blocks away.

Gatpandan said at 11:35 p.m., three Hispanic men ages 20 to 30 years old approached the victim with a gun and demanded money. The 32-year-old victim refused, and a suspect pistol whipped him and took his wallet and phone, then fled.

The victim suffered a cut to his eye and was treated at California Pacific Medical Center, Davies Campus.

More detailed descriptions of the suspects weren’t provided.

The gun in the second incident was described as a silver handgun with a white handle.

Two other robberies were also reported in the neighborhood in recent days.

At 8:08 a.m. Sunday, June 14, in the 4100 block of 18th Street, near Castro, a 63-year-old man was taking pictures when another man approached him from behind and pushed him over. The victim fell to the ground, and the suspect “forcibly” took his digital camera, Gatpandan said. The suspect ran away and got into a black vehicle driven by another suspect. The suspects fled the area.

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The victim, who suffered a hand laceration, refused medical treatment.

The suspects were described only as black males ages 20 to 25.

At 2:15 a.m. Saturday, June 13 at Octavia and Market streets, a man was walking to the Bart train when another man approached him. The victim, 30, reached into his pocket to get his phone when the suspect “pulled out a knife” and robbed the victim of his phone, cash, and driver’s license, Gatpandan said.

The victim wasn’t injured. The suspect was described only as a white male whose age was unknown.

As with the first two robberies, no arrests have been made in the latter two cases.

Anyone with information in the cases may call the SFPD anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444. People may also text a tip to TIP411. Type SFPD in the subject line.

The incidents numbers are 150527134 (19th and Hartford), 150527372 (21st and Castro), 150518434 (4100 block of 18th), and 150515985 (Market and Octavia).

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 17, 2015 @ 2:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Pink Party entertainers, beneficiaries announced

Crowds cheered and had fun during Pink Saturday 2012. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Crowds cheered and had fun during Pink Saturday 2012. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Organizers of the Pink Party, the street festival planned for San Francisco’s Castro district Saturday, June 27, the night before the city’s LGBT Pride parade, have announced the entertainment lineup and beneficiaries.

The music lineup will include Disco Daddy, featuring DJ Bus Station John; Hard French, with Tom Temprano and Brown Amy; the Monster Show, featuring Sugah Betes, Sue Casa, and others; and Shawna Virago.

Beneficiaries, who will provide volunteers for the party and share in proceeds from the gate, will include Bay Area Young Positives, the Center for Sex and Culture, and El/La Para TransLatinas.

The Pink Party, which will run from 3 to 8 p.m., takes the place of Pink Saturday, the annual event that drew thousands of people to the Castro’s streets for more than 20 years. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which ran the event for years and own the Pink Saturday name, opted not to produce the party this year, citing concerns about violence.

San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center stepped in to spearhead the event this year, at the request of gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose District 8 includes the Castro.

Unlike previous years, when the city declined to provide any direct funding for the party, the city is covering expenses for this year’s event. Rebecca Rolfe, the community center’s executive director, said in an email Wednesday, June 10 that the budget hasn’t been finalized. However, this year’s festival is expected to cost more than the $80,000 needed for the 2014 celebration.

The Sisters are planning to hold a revamped Pink Saturday at another location next year. – link for Sony Vegas Pro

There’s a suggested donation of $10 for Pink Party, but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. People interested in volunteering may sign up at

A full list of entertainers and beneficiaries is available on the festival’s Facebook page.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 11, 2015 @ 9:56 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF mayor welcomes plaintiff in US Supreme Court marriage case

Marriage lawsuit plaintiff Jim Obergefell. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Marriage lawsuit plaintiff Jim Obergefell. Photo: Rick Gerharter

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other officials gathered at City Hall today (Wednesday, June 10) to greet Jim Obergefell, the namesake plaintiff in the same-sex marriage case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lee and others also pledged that even if, as is expected, the court announces this month that gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states, more work needs to be done to protect LGBTs across the country against discrimination in employment, housing, and other areas.

“Your bravery, your courage, and your willingness to take a stand are an example” to everyone who values equality and fairness, Lee told Obergefell.

Obergefell married John Arthur in July 2013. Arthur died about three months later from ALS. The couple’s home state of Ohio has refused to recognize their marriage.

At the event on the mayor’s balcony Wednesday, Obergefell said, “I never thought I would have to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend our marriage,” but “I promised to love, honor, and protect my partner John.”

He added, “Marriage isn’t the end of our battle for equality. … I promise to keep up the fight for the LGBT community until full equality is truly a reality.”

Obergefell is the plaintiff at the heart of the case Obergefell v. Hodges. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in April.

Chad Griffin, CEO of the national Human Rights Campaign, said at the mayor’s event Wednesday that his organization is working on legislation aimed at protecting LGBTs across the country from discrimination. He didn’t know when a bill would be introduced.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Tuesday, June 16 edition of the online column Wedding Bells Ring.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 10, 2015 @ 4:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Victim in ’13 SF Pride shooting agrees to delay in trial

Shooting victim Trevor Gardner

Shooting victim Trevor Gardner

A man who was shot at San Francisco’s LGBT Pride festival in 2013 has agreed to a delay in the trial in his lawsuit against event organizers, acknowledging that June is a busy month for them.

Among other factors in the delay, Trevor Gardner, 25, of Los Angeles, is also recuperating from a surgery related to his injury.

This year’s LGBT Pride celebration and parade are set for Saturday, June 27 to Sunday, June 28.

In his lawsuit filed last may against the city’s LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, Gardner claimed the nonprofit neglected to provide adequate security at the 2013 event. The committee responded through court documents that Gardner had failed “to use diligent care.”

In an application for the delay filed in court Monday, June 1, both sides agreed to continue the trial from October 5 to November 2.

The Pride nonprofit and its workers “would be profoundly burdened in having to sit for depositions during the planning of this event in May and June,” the application says.

Also, Gardner “required surgery on his injury at issue in this litigation” May 19, the documents say, and he needs “at least six weeks to convalesce from his injuries.” Discovery on his injuries will have to take place after he recuperates.

Finally, Gardner’s attorney is supposed to begin an unrelated trial in July.

“Plaintiff and defendant wish to accommodate each of these scheduling matters and to complete all necessary discovery in this matter,” says the application, which Superior Court Judge John K. Stewart granted.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 4, 2015 @ 5:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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