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    In the News: 5.18.18

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    The Democrats’ New CEO is an Out and Proud Lesbian

    With newly installed DNC Chair Tom Perez in charge, the Democrats are starting to remake their organizational structure. As Perez lines up his team, he has picked a well-known, successful lesbian as CEO. Jess O’Connell, the former Executive Director of EMILY’s List, was a powerhouse surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president—while at the same time leading the organization, which focuses on electing women to political office, to historic increases in membership and fundraising.

    Tipping Point and Mayor Lee Pledge to Reduce Chronic Homelessness by Half

    Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Tipping Point Community, a private poverty-fighting organization, have launched a $100 million initiative to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 percent within the next five years in San Francisco. Partnering with Tipping Point is part of Mayor Lee’s multifaceted approach to combating homelessness in San Francisco. Since he took office, nearly 11,000 residents experiencing homelessness have been housed, but this and related problems, such as the lack of affordable housing in the city, are clearly far from being solved.

    San Mateo LGBT Center to Open on June 1

    The official grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new San Mateo County Pride Center will happen on June 1 from 4–7 pm. The Center, located at 1021 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo, has a $2.2 million budget for operation over the next three years and will bring together the efforts of five nonprofits and the county’s Health System. StarVista will primarily manage the Center, with the other partners including the nonprofits Outlet Adolescent Counseling Services, Peninsula Family Services, Pyramid Alternatives, Daly City Partnership and the county’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.

    Mark Leno Announces Run for Mayor of San Francisco

    Mark Leno has announced his plans to run for Mayor of San Francisco. Leno was joined by longtime friends and community supporters at his San Francisco City Hall announcement. “It’s time for a new direction,” said openly gay Leno. “I’m ready to lead with a progressive vision for our City, grounded in a commitment to affordability and civil rights.” Leno has dedicated his life to serving the San Francisco community as a small business owner, Supervisor, Assemblymember, and State Senator. He brings a progressive vision for the City, grounded in a commitment to affordability and economic equity. A longtime civil rights champion, Leno has spent over a decade authoring historic legislation to protect and fight for equality. His landmark FAIR Education Act ensured that the contributions of LGBTQ Americans and those with disabilities are included in public school curricula. In 2014, Governor Brown also signed into law Leno’s historic legislation formally recognizing marriage equality in California.

    Chelsea Manning Released from Prison, Scheduled to Return to Active Military Duty

    Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who came out as transgender while in prison for leaking documents to Wikileaks, was released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth, Kansas, this week. Although Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013, former President Obama granted Manning clemency. At the time of his decision, President Obama said, “I feel very comfortable that justice has been served.” Manning is set to return to active Army duty and will be eligible for some benefits, according to Army spokesman Dave Foster. He explained, “Pvt. Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review. In an active duty status, although in an unpaid status, Manning is eligible for direct care at medical treatment facilities, commissary privileges, Morale Welfare and Recreation privileges, and Exchange privileges.” Will Manning appear at LGBT events, such as Pride parades, this summer? No announcements have yet been made, but U.S. activity duty members of the military are allowed to participate in gay pride parades, and can wear their uniforms while doing so.

    Resolution to Landmark Rainbow Flag (and Pole) at Harvey Milk Plaza in Works

    Plans are in the works to grant City landmark status to the rainbow flag and flagpole located at Harvey Milk Plaza at the intersection of Market and Castro Streets. The flagpole was erected as an art installation in 1997 and was never intended to be a functioning flagpole, said District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, the man behind the resolution. Gilbert Baker, creator of the Rainbow Flag, latched onto the idea of installing a giant rainbow flag over the Castro in 1997. He had identified an unused flagpole near U.N. Plaza, and through a chance encounter with Willie Brown, got the flag and pole up in about six weeks. If the Board of Supervisors vote to landmark the iconic flagpole, the matter will be referred to the City’s Historic Preservation Commission, something that Sheehy’s office hopes will happen as soon as this summer. If the commission gives the initiative a green light, it’ll return to the supervisors for final approval.

    Rainbow World Fund Helping Global LGBTQ Family in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon

    Over the years, San Francisco-based Rainbow World Fund has provided emergency grant assistance to LGBTQ refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon who have faced imminent threats in their homelands. RWF funds have allowed LGBTQ Iraqi refugees to be flown out of Iraq to Turkmenistan and then to Lebanon, where conditions are safer, but no less precarious. RWF has covered the costs of airplane fare, food, basic needs, and housing for 2–3 months as the refugees await safe evacuation from the region and eventual connection to LGBTQ groups able to assist them with filing for asylum. RWF is located in the Castro and can always use volunteers.

    U.​S. Support of Same-Sex Marriage Hits All-Time High

    Despite a perceived political shift to the right, support for same-sex marriage continues to rise in the United States. According to recent results released by Gallup, 64 percent of U.S. adults say same-sex marriages should be recognized by the law and valid. Gallup notes that Americans’ support for same-sex marriage has more than doubled since Gallup first polled on the issue in 1996, when 27% said it should be recognized as valid by the law. Once considered a political lightening rod, support for same-sex marriage has almost always been strongest among Democrats, with 74 percent saying they approved in the survey. Independents followed with 71 percent approving. And while Republicans came in at a meager 47 percent, it bears noting that the number shows GOP approval has nearly tripled since 1996.

    GLBT History Museum to Offer Free Admission on May 22 in Honor of Harvey Milk Day 

    The State of California annually marks Harvey Milk’s birthday, May 22, as a statewide day of significance. Milk was the first openly gay elected official in California and one of the first in the United States. He served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for 11 months before he was assassinated. The GLBT History Museum will honor the occasion this year by offering free admission to all visitors throughout the day. The museum is located at 4127 18th Street in San Francisco’s Castro District. It will be open 11 am to 6 pm on Harvey Milk Day.

    Cafe Du Nord Declared Official Landmark

    According to SF Planning’s landmark designation report, the Cafe Du Nord building is “architecturally significant as an embodiment of the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, and method of construction,” in addition to “being an architecturally significant work of master architect August Nordin.” Originally opened in 1907, Cafe Du Nord is located below The Swedish-American Hall. In 2013, it was sold to Dylan MacNiven, before a 2015 renovation. The club at 2174 Market Street will host its official reopening party on June 1.