Political Notebook: SF planners back Campos' LGBT housing rule
by Matthew S. Bajko
San Francisco planners are backing a proposed rule that would require national developers wishing to build residential projects with 10 or more units in San Francisco to disclose if they prohibit LGBT discrimination.
The city's planning commission will vote on the proposal at their Thursday, July 10 meeting, and the planning department is urging them to approve it.
"The Planning Department supports the proposed ordinance in its current form and finds it an appropriate and minor adjustment to current application intake practices," wrote Diego R. Sánchez , who oversees legislative affairs for the department, in a staff report to planning commissioners.
As the Political Notebook first reported in March, gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos worked with LGBT housing rights activists to craft the proposal with an eye toward providing nationwide protections for LGBT tenants. Currently 21 states in the U.S. prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 16 states also ban gender-identity-based housing discrimination.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Jane Kim , Mark Farrell, John Avalos, and Eric Mar.
If approved as expected, the policy would require the planning department to inquire, as part of its routine application process, whether developers of larger projects have a national policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the sale, lease or financing of any dwelling unit.
While the planning department would be prohibited from using the information as part of its evaluation of a project, it would not be able to consider a development application as complete until the LGBT housing protection questions are answered.
The department would be required to share the information with the city's Human Rights Commission, which would use it to compile a written report on an annual basis for the Board of Supervisors to review.
"As the executive director of HRC and as a leader in the LGBTQ community, I believe that information empowers and illuminates us on the path to eradicating discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in the city and county of San Francisco and throughout the nation," wrote Theresa Sparks, a transgender woman, in a letter of support. "To that end, the legislation proposed by Supervisor David Campos would serve as a vehicle of progress for some of the most marginalized individuals and families in our communities."
According to the staff report, the proposed rule has not generated any opposition. Planners did receive letters in support from a number of LGBT agencies, including the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Larkin Street Youth Services, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
The Board of Supervisors will take up the proposal following the planning commission's vote. Once adopted, it would take effect 30 days after.
Congressman calls for end to gay blood ban
Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) this week called on the Food and Drug Administration to end its "discriminatory regulation" that prohibits gay and bisexual men from donating blood. The ban has been in place since the early days of the AIDS epidemic, and despite the advent of HIV tests, the federal government has shown little imperative to revise its policy.
"Despite tremendous advances in the medical and biotech fields, the Food and Drug Administration still bans blood donations from gay and bisexual men," stated Honda, who is facing a heated re-election race this fall. "The American Medical Association now opposes this discriminatory and outdated restriction. Our society is increasingly supporting equality for LGBT people. I will fight this ban that only marginalizes, stigmatizes, and stereotypes healthy people across the country."
A number of South Bay politicians joined Honda at a press conference Monday, July 7 at the Santa Clara County Government Center in San Jose.
"The ban on gay men donating blood is an archaic and discriminatory policy that precludes gay Americans from participating fully in our society," stated gay Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager . "Thanks to advances in testing science, overturning this ban would increase the donor blood supply and help save thousands of lives."
Gay Campbell City Councilman Evan Low has targeted the FDA's anti-gay policy since last year after he was asked to oversee a local blood drive during his time serving as mayor of his hometown.
"With the risk of man-made and natural disasters that could injure thousands of people, it's inconceivable that we would be turning away gay donated blood that has been scientifically tested to be safe," stated Low, who is running for a state Assembly seat this fall. "I urge the FDA to join the U.K., Canada, and Australia in rescinding this lifetime discriminatory ban."
Advocates of having the FDA lift its ban are holding a National Gay Blood Drive this Friday, July 11 to highlight the issue. They are asking people who can donate blood to do so that day in honor of a gay or bisexual man.
For more information, visit http://www.gayblooddrive.com.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.