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    Local and National News

    By Dennis McMillan

    LGBT Organizations Commemorate Black History Month

    February is Black History Month, and a number of LGBT organizations are marking it with special programs and events. HRC is spotlighting the voices of African American LGBT leaders and allies as part of its Black History Month series. (http://www.hrc.org/blog/c/black-history-month) The San Francisco-based Baynewsard Rustin LGBT Coalition and numerous other organizations throughout the Bay Area are hosting the event “Generations: Black LGBT History Experiences,” to be held on February 20 from 6–9pm at the African American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street at Webster in San Francisco. (http://www.defrankcenter.org/events/featured-events/478-february-20-generations-black-lgbt-history-experiences)

    SF Pride Grand Marshal Nominees Announced

    San Francisco Pride on February 3 announced the 2015 slate of nominees for public vote for Individual Community Grand Marshal, Organizational Community Grand Marshal, and the Pink Brick, which is a faux award given to a detractor of the LGBT community. The nominees are as follows:

    Community Grand Marshal: Tita Aida, Brian Basinger, Patrick Carney, Belo Cipriani, Masen Davis, Judy Dlugacz, Alicia Garza, Mary Midgett, Caitlin Ryan, Miko Thomas

    Community Grand Marshal: AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Magnet SF, Openhouse, Southern Poverty Law Center, Transgender Law Center

    Pink Brick: American Family Association, Pacific Justice Institute, World Congress of Families

    To learn more about the nominees and to place your vote, please visit http://sfpride.org/vote/
    Public voting concludes on March 2, so be sure to get your vote in on time.

    news2Free Muni for Seniors Will Begin on March 1

    Applications are now being accepted for the “Free Muni for Seniors” program, which begins on March 1. All San Francisco seniors, ages 65+, with a gross annual family income at or below 100 percent of the Bay Area Median Income level are eligible for the program. A chart at the SFMTA website further explains eligibility and provides instructions on how to apply. Applications are being accepted now. http://www.sfmta.com/getting-around/transit/fares-passes/free-muni/free-muni-seniors

    After Soft Launch, Castro Cares Goes into Full Action

    The Castro Cares two-year pilot program is now fully underway, after a soft launch took place in December. Castro Cares is a coalition of neighborhood groups, businesses, social services and city programs that have come together to improve the quality of life for those living on the street and for those who live, work, shop and play in the Castro. Castro Cares is now focused on the following issues: people with serious mental illness/drug addiction on the streets; the increase in mostly nonviolent crime; drug dealing and petty theft; and the increase in bad behavior, public drunkenness, rowdiness and lack of respect for the area from late-night partiers. evna.org

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    Public Comment Sought for Proposed New SFPD Station District Boundaries

    The San Francisco Police Commission is now seeking public input on proposed SF Police Department district boundary changes meant to better reflect calls for service, staffing levels within each district, and changes that have occurred in districts since the original boundaries were established. If the proposed changes are adopted, the Northern Police Station would cover everything north of Market Street and east of Castro Street. Park Police Station would cover everything north of Market Street and west of Castro Street. For more information, including on how to comment, please go to: http://castropatrol.org/bulletins/police-commission-considers-new-sfpd-station-district-boundaries/

    LGBT Senior Bill of Rights Unveiled

    Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos have unveiled groundbreaking anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBT seniors residing in long-term-care facilities in San Francisco. It is the first legislation of its kind in the nation.

    According to a press release issued by Supervisor Wiener’s office, the proposed ordinance will amend the Police Code to prohibit discrimination against residents in long-term care facilities in San Francisco on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. In addition, it will provide aggrieved persons with the right to seek investigation and mediation by the Human Rights Commission. Importantly, it will also create a private right of action and impose treble damages on violators.

    Castro Retail District Strengthens

    The Castro/Upper Market neighborhood’s retail sector is experiencing a gradual filling of vacant storefronts. From long-term vacancies such as the old Diesel store (soon to be SoulCycle) and the Patio (soon to be Hamburger Mary’s) to more recent vacancies such as Escape from New York Pizza (now Oz Pizza) and the old sunglass shop (now Dapper Dog), dozens of new stores, service providers, restaurants, and bars have come into the neighborhood. Supervisor Wiener and others hope to be proactive in attracting businesses that will add to the neighborhood and meet the needs of both residents and visitors.

    MCC Church Relocates from Castro District to Polk District

    The Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, the Christian-based spiritual heart of the San Francisco queer community for over four decades, has accepted buyer offers for its Castro location on 150 Eureka Street and an adjacent four-unit residential building at 138-140 Eureka Street. MCC is now renting space from First Congregational Church of San Francisco at 1300 Polk Street, which used to be a largely gay neighborhood. Beginning February 8, Sunday services will be held at 12 noon and 6 pm. The Prayer at the Heart Service will also move to 1300 Polk Street on February 11.

    Anniversary Celebration at Moby Dick This Friday

    Moby Dick owner Joe Cappelletti and his partner Scot Riffe are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a party at the legendary Castro bar on February 6 at 7:30pm. All are invited. When Joe and Scot announced their wedding in 2013, after being together for 18 years, they joked that “we will not be releasing doves on a hillside, in Monterey, at dusk, nor will we be writing our own vows to be recited in a majestic Redwood forest along the northern California coast, with everyone dressed in white croquet outfits, and toasting afterwards to sprites of the forest for a long and happy union.” They instead were married during a very private ceremony. The San Francisco Bay Times wishes them many more years of happiness and success! Moby Dick is located at 4049 18th Street, in the heart of the Castro.

    Reminder Regarding 415 Area Codes

    As of February 21, all calls made from the 415 Area Code will have to be dialed using 1 + area code + 7-digit telephone number. Beginning March 21, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the 628 area code.

    California Bars Judges from Boy Scout Membership

    California’s Supreme Court voted to prohibit state judges from belonging to the Boy Scouts on grounds that the group discriminates against gays. The court said its seven justices unanimously voted to heed a recommendation by its ethics advisory committee barring judges’ affiliation with the organization. In 1996, the state Supreme Court banned judges from belonging to groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but made an exception for nonprofit youth organizations. The Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics recommended eliminating the exception to enhance public confidence in the judiciary. The Boy Scouts allows the participation of openly gay boys, but continues to prohibit gay and lesbian adults from serving as leaders.

    Project Open Hand Executive Director to Step Down

    Project Open Hand Executive Director Kevin Winge will leave the organization on April 3, 2015. Winge has led Project Open Hand since January 2012. He is resigning as executive director so he can spend time with family in his home state of Minnesota and help care for critically ill family members. Project Open Hand Board Chair Scott Willoughby thanked Winge for his innovation, energy and commitment to Project Open Hand’s mission, vision and long-term growth. Under Winge’s leadership, Project Open Hand has become a stronger organization and launched an ambitious strategic plan to ensure the organization is not only sustainable, but also thriving. Project Open Hand’s Board of Directors is actively developing a leadership transition plan that will be announced to the community prior to Winge’s departure.

    Mayor Lee Announces $25.6 Million in HUD Grants for Homeless Programs in SF

    Mayor Ed Lee recently announced that the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded San Francisco $25.6 million in HUD’s Continuum of Care grants to fund 60 San Francisco-based organizations and a variety of housing and services including transitional and permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, street outreach, client assessment, and other services for families, victims of domestic violence, youth, and homeless veterans. Among other projects, the grants will fund Richardson Hall in Hayes Valley that will serve 8 chronically homeless seniors with disabling HIV/AIDS. The Mayor also announced that, working with Supervisors David Campos and Scott Wiener, San Francisco would fully fund a shelter for the LGBT homeless population.