Online extra: Wedding Bell Blues: New EQCA director seeks 2 for top posts
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Today (Tuesday, July 5) is the first day on the job for Roland Palencia, the new executive director of the statewide lobbying group Equality California.
It seems one of his first orders of business will be replacing two top staffers. Jim Carroll, who had most recently served as interim executive director, just quit, and Vaishalee Raja, EQCA's spokeswoman, is leaving next week.
Carroll, who had filled the group's top post after former Executive Director Geoff Kors resigned in March, had been a candidate for the permanent position. Carroll's last day at the organization was Tuesday, June 28. He didn't respond to interview requests.
Raja, 32, will be an account director at Fenton, a public interest public relations firm.
"I'm sad about leaving EQCA because the work and our staff have been incredible, but it's a great opportunity for me to work on several different social justice issues," she said in an email. Her last day at EQCA will be Wednesday, July 13. She declined to say what her EQCA salary had been.
In other EQCA news, the group is inviting wine lovers to its Wine Country Weekend for Equality.
The festivities start with a concert Saturday, July 23, in Calistoga. More fun will be offered at the second annual Get Wet! Wine Country event Sunday, July 24, in Yountville.
For more information, visit www.eqca.org.
Lara holds LGBT Latino health hearing
Palencia will have a busy first week. On Wednesday he will address an informational legislative hearing called by out gay Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to discuss the state of Latino LGBT health.
The LGBT Latino Select Committee of the Latino Legislative Caucus is a new committee Lara created. The hearing will include two panels on systemic barriers to health access and care for LGBT Latinos and the role of families in fostering mental health. The hearing is set for Room 444 in the state Capitol building and starts at 2 p.m.
In addition to Palencia, presenters will include Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University; Daniel Zingale of the California Endowment; Dr. Octavio Vallejo of AIDS Projects Los Angeles; and Carolina Ramos of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.
State legislators, activists, health care providers, and community members are invited to attend.
From 3:45 to 5 p.m. there will be a reception on the second floor rotunda of the Capitol. To RSVP for either the hearing or the reception contact Jacqueline Serna at mailto:Jacqueline.Serna@asm.ca.gov.
Bay Area facilities rank high in Healthcare Equality Index
The national Human Rights Campaign recently released its annual report rating hospitals on how they treat LGBTs, including policies related to same-sex couples.
In the 2011 LGBT Healthcare Equality Index, 23 out of 25 Bay Area facilities earned perfect ratings.
The numbers are based on responses to a survey administered by the HRC Foundation. Respondents voluntarily submitted information on policies.
"The first step in creating a health care environment free of bias and discrimination is taking an internal look at the policies and practices that directly affect LGBT patients,Ó HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement Thursday, June 30, the day the report was released. "We thank these health care facilities for participating in the Healthcare Equality Index."
In the Bay Area, the 19 facilities within Kaiser Foundation Hospitals; California Pacific Medical Center; San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center; UCSF Medical Center; and UC Davis Medical Center are recognized as "Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality."
These facilities have explicit policies in place to protect LGBT patients and employees from discrimination and ensure equal visitation access for same-sex couples and same-sex parents, according to HRC. They also provide LGBT cultural competency training for all staff.
Kaiser helped Leeane Jensen, 29, and her partner, Farra Levin, 34, conceive a child in 2008 through a procedure known as intrauterine insemination. The couple lives in Emeryville and receives care through Kaiser's Oakland hospital.
"I thought they were very responsive to our needs. Especially being an LGBT couple, we didn't really know what to expect, but they were really great," Jensen said. Staff has included both of them in discussions, and their straight pediatrician even refers to both of them as "Mom." Their son, Lucas, is now 2.
Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, said in a statement, "Equal care is the essence of health care. It is our responsibility, our calling as health care providers, to deliver safe, quality care to everyone in need."
Nationally, only 49 percent of participating facilities have an explicitly inclusive visitation policy granting equal access for same-sex couples and 52 percent have such a policy inclusive of same-sex parents, according to HRC.
One facility that didn't fare so well in the index is Stanford Hospital and Clinics. According to HRC's report, the hospital doesn't have explicitly inclusive visitation policy that grants same-sex couples equal visitation access as different-sex couples and next of kin. Stanford also doesn't provide cultural competency training addressing health care issues relevant to the LGBT community, the report says.
Gary Migdol, Stanford Hospital's director of communications, disputed the accuracy of last year's report, when the hospital also received a less-than-perfect ranking. He didn't respond to an interview request on this year's report.
Wedding Bell Blues is an online column looking at various issues related to the marriage equality fight in California and elsewhere. Please send column ideas or tips to Seth Hemmelgarn at or call (415) 861-5019. Wedding Bell Blues appears every other Tuesday.