Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 35 / 27 August 2015

Hookup ends in robbery in SF

An apparent hookup went wrong early Tuesday when a man was robbed in San Francisco by a man he met in a bar.

The victim, 32, met the suspect, 21, in a bar, and they took the victim’s car back to his hotel room near Post and Buchanan streets at about 3 a.m. July 14, according to Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman.

Once they were on the sidewalk, the suspect reached into the victim’s pocket and took out his wallet. The victim tried to get his wallet back, but the suspect “grabbed his arm and twisted it, causing pain,” Esparza said in a summary of the incident. The suspect, who’s described only as a white male, fled on foot.

The suspect got away with the victim’s wallet, which contained his Brazilian identification, other ID, and cash, but the victim wasn’t injured. No arrests have been reported.

Anyone with information related to the case may call the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The incident number is 150611834.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 15, 2015 @ 2:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

CA LGBT legal groups blast lack of LGBT judges on state bench

ONLINE_Political_Notes_11_15_LRGA coalition of LGBT legal groups in California is blasting the lack of LGBT judges on the state bench in what it is describing as a “first in the nation survey.”

Titled “The New Frontier of LGBT Equality: The California State and Federal Judiciary,” the 15-page document concludes that “LGBTs are just treading water” when it comes to being appointed or elected to serve on state and federal courts in the Golden State.

As the report notes, “even with recent appointments and election victories, the percentage of openly LGBT sitting California judges and justices still remains at a disappointing 2.4 percent.”

The Bay Area Reporter has been been reporting on the lack of LGBT judges on the state bench since 2011, when California judges were first asked if they identify as LGBT. State law requires the California Administrative Office of the Courts to annually report on the diversity of the judiciary, including on the sexual orientation and gender identity makeup of the state bench.

Responding to the questionnaire is entirely voluntary, and the identities of the lesbian, gay, and transgender judges are not disclosed. As the B.A.R. noted in a March story about the data released earlier this year, there were zero bisexual judges among the 1,655 jurists serving as of December 31, 2014. It marked the fourth year in a row that bi justices were missing from the demographic data.

In a news release about its report on the state’s judicial makeup, the California LGBT Bar Coalition stated that “among the remaining frontiers for full LGBT equality is equal representation in the state & federal judiciary. It is both ironic and sad that the very judicial institutions that we rely upon for our equality are themselves so unequal and un-inclusive of LGBT Americans.”

Among the findings highlighted in the report, the coalition noted there has never been an openly LGBT justice on the California Supreme Court and that 45 of California’s 58 counties do not have any LGBT judges.

“In other words, the LGBT community is not represented in the judiciary in 78 percent of the counties in California,” noted the coalition.

The report also highlighted that out of 438 Los Angeles County trial court judges, only nine self-identify as LGBT.

“It’s time for California to make a sustained commitment to increase LGBT representation throughout the judiciary. The legitimacy of the justice system depends on inclusion,” Herbst Foundation Professor and Dean’s Circle Scholar at the University of San Francisco School of Law Julie A. Nice states in the report.

The B.A.R. will have more about the report in its July 23 issue next Thursday.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Teen charged in shooting near SF Pride pleads not guilty

Joshua Spencer. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

Joshua Spencer. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

The teen charged with shooting a man who had just attended San Francisco’s recent LGBT Pride celebration has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges in the case.

Joshua Spencer, 19, allegedly shot the 64-year-old victim in the arm Saturday, June 27 after Spencer and several other men got into an argument at United Nations Plaza. The site of the shooting, which occurred just after 6 p.m., is near where the festival had ended for the day, but police have said the incident was unrelated to Pride. The victim was briefly hospitalized.

Besides the attempted murder charge, Spencer, who’s being held on $2.5 million bail, also pleaded not guilty Thursday, July 9 to two counts of assault with a semiautomatic rifle and a count of intentional discharge of a firearm with great bodily injury.

Assistant District Attorney Nathan Quigley said in court this week that video of the incident shows Spencer firing at one of the two victims. The victims are the man who was actually shot, and the person that Spencer had allegedly been firing at.

The gun was found in the same block as the shooting, Quigley said, and Spencer’s “palm prints were found on the magazine of the gun.”

Spencer has declined the Bay Area Reporter’s request for an interview.

Asked about the case today (Friday, July 10), Deputy Public Defender Brian Pearlman, who’s representing Spencer, said, “I’m not going to have any statement about that right now.”

The  next court date is July 21.

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

CA LGBT bills survive Senate committee votes

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell

Two LGBT bills survived committee votes this week in the California state Senate and now await passage by the full Senate.

On Tuesday (July 7) the Senate Education Committee by a 7-2 vote, with the body’s two Republican members opposed, approved AB 827, authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach). It calls for the creation of a training program to help teachers combat bullying and support LGBT youth who are coming out of the closet or being targeted by other students.

In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, O’Donnell, a former schoolteacher, hailed the committee voting to advance his bill. He noted it “requires schools to provide annual training for teachers on school and community resources available to LGBTQ students. Supportive learning environments improve academic achievement and make schools safer!”

Also on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 – with all the Democrats in favor while the two Republicans on the committee abstained – to advance AB 960, the Equal Protection for All Families Act. Authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), the legislation modernizes California law to protect families using assisted reproduction methods.

The legislation would grant unmarried people using assisted reproduction the same parental rights as married parents. It would also remove the requirement from the state’s Family Code that couples must involve a physician or sperm bank when using assisted reproduction in order to ensure that the donor is not a parent.

“This bill is about treating every intended parent, who has carefully weighed the life-changing decision to have children, as a parent from the moment of birth,” stated Chiu. “Many couples, especially our LGBT couples, use assisted reproduction to start their families. It is time that California updates its assisted reproduction laws to ensure couples using assisted reproduction are not unjustly deterred from having their own families.”

Supporters of the bill argue that the state’s current rules on artificial insemination are cost prohibitive to many families as they cannot afford to conceive using a sperm bank or doctor, which can costs hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. They also note that a sperm donor could be required to pay child support by the state, under the current rules, if the parents conceived through at-home insemination.

“Currently, many families with children conceived through assisted reproduction are not recognized by California law,” stated National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “AB 960 ensures that all children conceived through assisted reproduction have equal legal protections for their families.”

AB 960 is expected to be voted on by the full Senate in the next two weeks. It is one of 10 pieces of legislation regarding LGBT issues begin considered by California legislators this session.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 8, 2015 @ 3:07 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man hit with bottle in Castro

Photo: Rick Gerharter

Photo: Rick Gerharter

A man was hit over the head with a bottle early Tuesday morning in San Francisco’s Castro district after arguing with another man.

The July 7 incident occurred at 12:30 a.m. in the 4000 block of 18th Street when the men had “a verbal argument” and the suspect “grabbed a glass bottle” and struck the victim with it, according to Officer Albie Esparza, a police department spokesman.

The assailant fled the scene, leaving the victim, 31, with a non-life threatening head laceration. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

The suspect was described as a 28-year-old Hispanic male. No arrest has been reported in the incident.

Anyone with information related to the case may call the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The incident number is 150589601.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:54 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Navy and Marine Corps toughen rules for discharging transgender members

Courtesy KPBS

Courtesy KPBS

The Navy and Marine Corps have toughened the rules for discharging transgender members, similar to recent moves by other branches of the U.S. armed forces.

According to a memorandum, dated July 1, from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the level of authority required to discharge transgender sailors and marines has been raised higher up the chain of command.

“Effective immediately, separations initiated under the provisions of the references for service members with a diagnosis or history of gender dysphoria, who identify themselves as transgender, or who have taken steps to externalize the condition, must be forwarded to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) for decision,” wrote Mabus.

The day prior to the discharge rule change announcement, Tuesday, June 30, the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California held the base’s first LGBT Pride event. A Navy Fleet Readiness Center Southwest spokesman told San Diego radio station KPBS 89.5/97.7 FM that the celebration was the first of its kind at a naval base on the West Coast.

The policy change follows steps taken earlier this year by the Army and the Air Force to elevate the decision authority for discharging transgender servicemembers in those branches of the U.S. military. In both branches neither gender dysphoria nor self-identification as transgender is an automatic circumstance that generates involuntary separation.

The American Military Partner Association, a national organization for LGBT military families, hailed the decision by the Navy and Marine Corps. But the group also called for a wholesale rescinding of the military’s policies that bar transgender servicemembers from serving openly.

“While this is welcome news and an important step in the right direction, it does not change the ultimate risk of being fired that transgender troops continue to face simply for being open and honest about who they are,” stated AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “We need the Department of Defense to expeditiously update the outdated regulations that continue to threaten and harm our transgender service members and their families.”

The step taken by the Navy this week comes after the Navy Times reported in March that the senior enlisted sailor of the U.S. Navy – Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens – would support open and honest service by transgender troops if the ban caused by outdated regulations was lifted.

Asked if transgender recruits who have completed their gender transitions should be allowed to serve, Stevens told the publication that if they meet the Navy’s standards, they should be allowed to serve. Stevens said, “So, I was a recruiter at one time. The Navy sets the guidelines for [who] we can allow to join the Navy. So if they’re physically, mentally and morally qualified, anybody who meets those criteria has an opportunity to serve their country.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 2, 2015 @ 3:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

AG Harris rejects second ‘kill gays’ initiative

The anti-gay Orange County attorney who submitted the Sodomite Suppression Act for the November 2016 ballot that was rejected by a judge last week again attempted to submit a proposed constitutional amendment that would have done the same thing.

(Attorney General Kamala Harris. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Attorney General Kamala Harris. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday rejected the proposal from attorney Matthew McLaughlin, according to the Sacramento Bee.

According to the paper, McLaughlin said that he purposely didn’t defend the first initiative, which would have amended the state’s penal code. The new proposal, dubbed the Sodomite Suppression Mandate, would have amended the state constitution and legalized the killing of gays and lesbians by “bullets to the head” or “any other convenient method.”

In a phone interview with the Bee, McLaughlin invoked the Bible as the reason he was proposing laws allowing people to kill gays.

“What I’m proposing is not murder,” McLaughlin told the paper. “I’m proposing the laws as they’ve ever been. The Bible doesn’t change.”

Harris didn’t waste any time in rejecting the measure. In a letter, she also returned McLaughlin’s $200 processing fee, the paper reported.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported this week, Harris called McLaughlin an “idiot” during her remarks at the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club Pride Breakfast.

“Look at where we are – some idiot proposed a state initiative to allow gays to be killed,” Harris said at the June 28 event.

The attorney general’s office didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on the latest rejected measure. McLaughlin has not responded to requests for comment from the B.A.R.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 1:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

UPDATED: Police make arrest in shooting near SF Pride

San Francisco police have made an arrest in the June 27 shooting that occurred near the San Francisco Pride festival.

(Joshua Spencer. Photo: Courtesy SFPD)

(Joshua Spencer. Photo: Courtesy SFPD)

According to a news release issued late Thursday afternoon, the San Francisco Police Department’s Gang Task Force Unit followed investigative leads and identified the suspect responsible as Joshua Spencer, a 19-year-old San Francisco resident.

Police said that Spencer was arrested Thursday, July 2 at noon in Vallejo. Spencer was then transported to the San Francisco Gang Task Force Unit for further investigation, police said.

Police added that at approximately 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Spencer was booked at San Francisco County Jail two counts of attempted murder, discharging a firearm in public, and possession of an unregistered firearm.

(previous entry)

A police source told the Bay Area Reporter Thursday that a suspect has been arrested. Cellphone video taken by witnesses apparently helped nab the person.

The shooting happened in United Nations Plaza shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, as the nearby Pride festival was ending for the day.

A 64-year-old Pride spectator was shot once in the arm and transported to San Francisco General Hospital that night in stable condition.

Police spokesman Carlos Manfredi told the paper this week that the incident was believed to have started when several groups of men, “unrelated to the Pride event,” got into a verbal argument near or inside the venue.

“The incident escalated when one of the subjects pulled out a gun and fired several shots,” Manfredi said earlier this week.

The B.A.R. will have more on this story in next week’s issue.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 1:02 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Breaking: Wiener launches CA Senate seat bid

Gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener made official this week his long expected run for a state Senate seat.

Wiener, 45, filed paperwork with state elections officials to begin raising money for his campaign to represent Senate District 11, which includes all of San Francisco and portions of northern San Mateo County. The current officeholder, gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), is termed out of office in 2016 and is endorsing Wiener to be his successor.

(Supervisor Scott Wiener. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Supervisor Scott Wiener. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

“I love serving on the Board of Supervisors. It’s been a tremendous honor to have worked very hard for my district and the city,” Wiener told the Bay Area Reporter in a phone interview Tuesday. “In terms of the work I do around transportation, housing, water, and health, I can, being in the state Senate, be so impactful in that role in helping not only the city and region but the state as a whole.”

Leno said the political colleagues, as well as friends, have known each other since at least 2002 when he first ran for an Assembly seat.

“I think Scott will make a terrific state senator. Supervisor Wiener has been a prolific and earnest legislator on the county board,” Leno told the B.A.R. “On complex issues such as transportation, health, civil rights, the environment, Supervisor Wiener has repeatedly demonstrated an uncommon understanding and command.”

“You can throw in his work ethic, his intelligence, and his tenacity,” added Leno. “Altogether, they suggest the constituents of District 11 will be well served.”

Wiener, a former San Francisco Democratic Party chair, plans to announce numerous endorsements from politicians, community leaders, and unions Wednesday morning when he publicly launches his Senate bid.

Among those on the list are Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma. All three Democrats are former local San Francisco elected officials.

Both City Attorney Dennis Herrera, for whom Wiener once worked, and District Attorney George Gascon are backing Wiener’s Senate bid, as is Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu. All four of the Board of Supervisors’ more moderate members, Board President London Breed (District 5), Julie Christensen (D3), Mark Farrell (D2), and Katy Tang (D4), endorsed Wiener.

In San Mateo County, state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has endorsed Wiener, as have all five members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The Senate district includes the cities of Colma and Daly City as well as a portion of South San Francisco.

The list of individual endorsers runs nearly 200 strong. Twelve unions, including police, firefighters and labor trades, have also lent Wiener their support.

The strong showing out of the gate from Wiener doesn’t surprise Rafael Mandelman, a local Democratic Party official who unsuccessfully ran against him for the supervisor seat in 2010.

“I think he has certainly demonstrated over his time in office that he is incredibly hardworking and that he is incredibly diligent and persistent. Once he starts working on an issue, he pursues it doggedly until he gets what he wants,” said Mandelman, currently president of the City College board of trustees who has yet to be asked for his endorsement in the Senate race. “I think that people on all places in the political spectrum have been impressed with his work ethic and his tenacity. The challenge is he is also quite controversial. He has picked a number of fights that have earned him friends and enemies.”

One issue critics have repeatedly attacked Wiener on is affordable housing. It is no coincidence housing is listed at the top of a list of his legislative accomplishments Wiener’s campaign sent out to reporters. It mentions his push to allow homeowners to add in-law units and granting larger density allowances to developers to build more affordable housing among his legislative wins.

“I think that criticism is way off base and based on a very selective view of the work I have done I have been working hard on housing for all income levels since the day I took office,” said Wiener. “I have been a consistent supporter of building more affordable housing. I have supported money in the budget every year for affordable housing, including for seniors and at-risk youth.”

Should he win the Senate seat, Wiener said he would take up Leno’s so far unsuccessful legislative battle to curb Ellis Act evictions in the city. And he said he would support changes to Proposition 13 that would result in commercial property owners paying more in taxes than residential property owners.

Wiener said he fully expects that housing issues will be “front and center” in the Senate campaign.
“Housing is the most significant challenge facing our city right now,” he said. “How we react to this housing crisis will determine, in many ways, what this city is in the future.”

Unlike in his re-election bid last year for supervisor, when he faced only token opposition, Wiener is likely to face at least one, perhaps two, strong progressive opponents for the Senate Seat.
Gay former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who was termed out of his seat last December, has expressed interest in seeking Leno’s seat. He filed paperwork to form a Senate campaign committee but has yet to report raising any money for it.

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim is said to be interested in running for the seat, while gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos has also been mentioned as a possible candidate. Campos lost his bid in November for a state Assembly seat representing San Francisco’s eastern neighborhoods to former Supervisor David Chiu, who has endorsed Wiener’s Senate bid.

The June primary, where the top two vote getters will advance to the November election, is less than a year away. It won’t be long before another candidate jumps into the race.

But with the field his alone at the moment, “Scott has a significant head start,” said Mandelman. “If I were Scott right now, I would be feeling really good.”

– reported by Matthew S. Bajko

— Cynthia Laird, June 30, 2015 @ 11:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Former CA Gov Schwarzenegger celebrates marriage ruling

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 5.07.05 PMHe could have enacted marriage equality in California – twice – while in office, but both times former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the legislation.

A decade after he first jettisoned a pro-gay marriage bill, the actor-turned-politician took to Twitter late Friday afternoon to celebrate today’s historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court making same-sex marriage the law of the land in all 50 states.

Schwarzenegger simply typed the hashtag #LoveWins and linked to an Instagram picture of himself as his famous movie character The Terminator over-layed with the rainbow colors of the Pride flag. The latest installment of the blockbuster film franchise, Terminator Genisys, opens July 1.

After the state Legislature became the first in the country to pass a pro-gay marriage bill in 2005, Schwarzenegger said he could not sign AB849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act authored by gay lawmaker Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), then serving in the Assembly, because of the passage of Proposition 22 in 2000. The measure defined marriage as between a man and a woman and restricted California from recognizing gay marriages performed out of state.

“I am proud California is a leader in recognizing and respecting domestic partnerships and the equal rights of domestic partners,” he wrote in his veto message. “I believe that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationships. I support current domestic partnership rights and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce these rights and as such will not support any rollback.”

Schwarzenegger also cited the ongoing court battle over the state’s marriage laws sparked by former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision to order city officials to marry same-sex couples in 2004 as also impacting his reasoning in why he should not sign the marriage bill into law.

“The ultimate issue regarding the constitutionality of [the state’s laws] and its prohibition against same-sex marriage is currently before the Court of Appeal in San Francisco and will likely be decided by the Supreme Court,” Schwarzenegger correctly predicted.

He issued a similar message in 2007 when Leno was able to pass a second marriage equality bill through the Legislature.

“I maintain my position that the appropriate resolution to this issue is to allow the court to rule on Proposition 22. The people of California should then determine what, if any, statutory changes are needed in response to the court’s ruling,” wrote Schwarzenegger.

In 2008, Schwarzenegger opposed Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban passed that November.  And in 2010 he publicly backed a decision by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that declared Prop 8 unconstitutional. Schwarzenegger had refused to defend the anti-gay initiative in the courts.

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 26, 2015 @ 5:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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