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    In the News: 8.24.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    ‘Patriot Prayer’ Rally Scheduled for August 26, but There Are Alternatives

    The group Patriot Prayer—organized by Joey Gibson, who is of Japanese descent—is planning an August 26 rally at Crissy Field. While Gibson says that his group is primarily about exercising and strengthening free speech in the U.S., it has attracted neo-Nazis and people from the alt-right. Mayor Ed Lee and many others have therefore expressed concern over the August 26 rally and the potential violence it could incite. Street closures and public transit changes are expected. A second “No to Marxism Rally” is confirmed in Berkeley from 1–5 pm on Sunday, August 27, in Martin Luther King, Jr., Civic Center Park in Berkeley. There are alternatives to these events, however. Activist and drag queen Juanita MORE!, for example, has confirmed that she will host a rally and march to Civic Center from Castro on Saturday, August 26. Participants will meet at noon in Harvey Milk Plaza.

    See page 6 of this issue for more information. 

    California Legislative LGBT Caucus Introduces Resolution to Prevent Discrimination Against Transgender Service Members

    This week, Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 22, condemning President Trump’s announcement that he will ban transgender individuals from serving in the military and directing the California military to not discriminate against transgender service members. “Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military is offensive, misguided, and contrary to our American values,” said Low. “The thousands of transgender military service members who have put their lives on the line for our country deserve better. The California Legislative LGBT Caucus stands by our transgender service members and will do everything in our power to prevent further discrimination.” California hosts more than 190,000 active and reserve service people from all five branches of the United States military and is home to three army bases, seven marine bases, 10 navy bases, six air force bases and five reserve and national Coast Guard bases. Thousands of transgender troops are currently serving in our military and an unknown number are currently in combat zones. AJR 22 will be heard on the Assembly Floor in the coming weeks.

    Oakland Will Open Its First LGBTQ Community Center on September 7

    On September 7, the grand opening of the new Oakland LGBTQ Community Center will take place. It will add to the estimated 27 such centers that already exist in the state of California. Founders Jeff Myers and Joe Hawkins recently spoke with the San Diego LGBT Weekly. “For the first time in history, Oakland will have an official LGBTQ community space that serves the diversity of our community regardless of age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, but focused on the most vulnerable among us,” Hawkins said. Myers, the new nonprofit’s Board President who is a surgical scrub nurse by profession and a frequent community volunteer, expressed: “This is a big moment for us! Having a central space is critical, not just to come together, but a place to find support and resources during times of crisis. We are actively fundraising for the center, and although we are seeking grants, we need a diverse stream of funding to make this work, and that means donations from our LGBTQ community and allies. This center will be a space that addresses key issues of the community. The time for an all-inclusive LGBTQ community center in Oakland has been way overdue.”

    Fresno’s Only LGBT Community Center Closes Its Doors

    As Oakland is opening its community center, Fresno is recovering from the recent closure of its similar hub.

    Difficulty in keeping its all-volunteer organization afloat was cited as a reason for the shutdown. Run by Gay Central Valley president Chris Jarvis, the Fresno LGBT Community Center, formerly at 1067 N. Fulton Street, opened in 2010 as the first for the LGBT community in Fresno in 20 years, according to Jarvis. In a recent letter, the center announced the closing and said Gay Central Valley, formed in 2009, would also be ceasing operations by the end of the year. The letter, posted at and on its Facebook page, detailed the uphill battle Jarvis and other board members faced keeping the community center open for seven years. “Issues such as funding, staffing, volunteer/leadership changes and our ongoing philosophy of an all-volunteer organization (where no one receives compensation and all money raised is funneled back into the community) presented ongoing challenges,” the letter read. “… We sincerely hope that vital works such as the community center, The Rainbow Delegation and Cultural Competency Training Outreach will be taken on by other organizations.” Jarvis said, “I hate that the center is closing. This isn’t a decision we came to overnight. This is a very time-consuming volunteer job, but we have lots of strong leaders in this community that are not going to abandon the LGBTQ community.”

    City Grant Helps Fund Pink Triangle Park’s $250,000 Renovation Plan

    Dedicated in 2001, Pink Triangle Park is a memorial to the estimated 15,000 LGBTQ persons who were killed during the Holocaust. (Nazis made gay men wear pink triangles stitched onto their garments as a way to identify them.) The 15 pylons at Pink Triangle Park have become unsteady, and five have cracked at their base. Although it was the first such memorial in the United States, the park has since fallen into disrepair, attracting encampments, accumulating rubbish and going unnoticed by many, until now. The Castro/Upper Market CBD acted as the fiscal sponsor for the Pink Triangle Park’s bid to get grant money, and neighborhood groups like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Castro Merchants, the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, the GLBT Historical Society and others lent their support. The project has now been granted $91,400. The secured grant money will help to restore all 15 pylons (one for each of the 1,000 LGBTQ victims of the Holocaust), install a new irrigation system, and replant the park with new flowers. Funding will also be used to make Pink Triangle Park partially handicapped-accessible. Eventual upgrades may include: widening and expanding the sidewalk on the 17th Street side, installing granite-block benches donated by the Children’s Garden, creating a formal park entrance where the bus shelter was removed on Market Street, planting lower-profile plants to deter people from sleeping and dumping, and installing a webcam so viewers can observe the weather, park, and Rainbow Flag.

    City and State Sue Trump Administration Over Latest Attack on Sanctuary Cities

    San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced that he has filed a second lawsuit against the Trump administration over what he believes are unconstitutional new conditions on federal law enforcement grants instituted by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The first lawsuit was filed in January, alleging an executive order aimed at defunding so-called sanctuary cities (of which San Francisco remains), exceeded presidential power and was unconstitutional. A federal judge has since invoked a preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of the executive order nationwide. The new lawsuit names U.S. Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions III, acting Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Hanson, and the DOJ as defendants. “Once again, this president is attempting an end-run around the Constitution,” Herrera said. “The Department of Justice does not have authority from Congress to impose these conditions, and for good reason. In the name of public safety, this president is undercutting law enforcement and trying to withhold money used to reduce crime. That’s like burning a mountain of coal in the name of environmental protection. Maybe that makes sense to this White House, but it doesn’t add up for most Americans.”

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation Dedicates Wall

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation has dedicated a wall to the community of donors who supported the $15 million fundraising campaign to open Strut and sustain and grow the programs that occur there. CEO Joe Hollendoner spoke at the event and acknowledged the many community members who made Strut possible. “Not only did this campaign raise an unprecedented $15 million for our community, this building will be the cornerstone by which San Francisco AIDS Foundation and our community partners get to zero: zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero HIV stigma,” said Hollendoner. He noted the public can check out the new donor wall on Strut’s second floor.

    Log Cabin Republicans Didn’t Endorse Trump but Booked Gala at Trump’s D.C. Hotel

    America’s foremost gay Republican group, which did not endorse Donald Trump for president last fall, is throwing its 40th anniversary party next month at his Washington, D.C., hotel. The Log Cabin Republicans booked the venue before the president signaled his intent to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. “Our desired original venue was unable to accommodate us on any of our desired dates,” Gregory T. Angelo, the group’s president, said, adding that “the Trump Hotel gave us a very competitive deal.” Asked whether the group has considered a venue change in light of the growing backlash over the president’s tepid response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, the group said there has been “some discussion but with barely a month until the event and every prime hotel booked a change of venue would be impractical.”

    Democrats Introduce Resolution to Censure Trump

    In the aftermath of Charlottesville, many Democrats believe that Donald Trump has allowed white supremacists and Nazis to find a home in the Republican Party. They believe it is not enough for Republicans to simply tweet that they oppose hatred and bigotry—they must denounce Donald Trump. House Democrats are introducing a resolution to censure Donald Trump for his defense of the white supremacist mob in Charlottesville. According to Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee Chair, the Republicans in Congress have a choice: they can declare their support for our American values, or they can stand with the leader of their party who appears to have embraced white supremacists and given voice to their cause.

    Sha’ar Zahav Welcomes New Rabbi Mychal Copeland

    At a special congregational meeting, Sha’ar Zahav members voted to approve the recommendation of the search committee and Va’ad to hire Rabbi Mychal Copeland as their new “settled” rabbi. Rabbi Copeland’s past position was the director of InterfaithFamily Bay Area where, according to her website, she helped “interfaith couples navigate bringing two backgrounds into one home.” Prior to that, she was the Rabbi and Senior Jewish Educator at Hillel at Stanford for eleven years. Many Sha’ar Zahav members know her from her work as a Rabbi in Residence at Camp Tawonga, and from her presentations to Introduction to Judaism classes. She was an Assistant Rabbi at The Jewish Center of Princeton, NJ, a Conservative Egalitarian synagogue, and a Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, New York’s LGBT synagogue.

    Momentum Builds for SB 384 ‘Nightlife’ Bill

    California legislators and Los Angeles nightlife supporters joined together in the Broadway Theater District in Downtown Los Angeles calling for the passage of a bill authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to allow communities to expand nightlife in California. Senator Wiener was joined by co-authors Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Matt Dababneh (D-Woodland Hills) and Los Angeles nightlife and hospitality leaders, who spoke about the positive economic and cultural benefits of Senate Bill 384. SB 384 allows—but does not require—local communities to extend alcohol service to as late as 4 am. The LOCAL Act, which stands for Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night, applies to bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, but not to liquor stores. SB 384 is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which is the last stop for the bill before being considered by the full Assembly. In May, the LOCAL Act passed the Senate with a bipartisan super-majority vote of 27–9.