Recent Comments


    In the News: 1.26.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    San Francisco Elected Officials Denounce Trump, Commit to Protecting Health Care

    On Tuesday, January 24, numerous San Francisco officials led a Community Rally and Press Conference with Elected Women Leaders. Participants included Supervisors Hillary Ronen, London Breed, Sandra Lee Fewer, Jane Kim, Malia Cohen, Katy Tang; Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu; Sheriff Vicki Hennessy; Board of Education Members Emily Murase, Hydra Mendoza, Rachel Norton; Community College Board Members Thea Selby, Brigitte Davila, Shanell Williams; Democratic County Central Committee Members Cindy Wu, Petra DeJesus, Sophie Maxwell, Pratima Gupta, Angela Alioto, Mary Jung, Leah Lacroix; Planned Parenthood Northern California; Women’s Community Clinic; and many community organizations. They committed to protecting women’s universal access to affordable reproductive, family planning and sexual health services. They also voiced support for protecting health care for all, which is under threat from the new Trump administration. A resolution (see text on this page) was announced at the event.

    Governor Brown Gives Forceful State of the State Speech

    California Governor Jerry Brown gave a forceful State of the State speech on Tuesday, January 24, mentioning that “California is not turning back. Not now. Not ever,” and reinforcing “basic principles.” He highlighted the continued work needed on immigration matters, renewable energy and climate change, health care and infrastructure. Assemblymember David Chiu, after the speech, commented: “Governor Brown today delivered a vintage defense of California’s values and accomplishments. His overall theme of inclusion, of our mutual dependence amidst our State’s incredible diversity, resonates in this moment of national fear and division.” He added that he hopes “Governor Brown will apply his considerable skills to working with the Legislature this year to move forward solutions” to the particularly “vexing and persistent” problems associated with the housing crisis. The full text of the speech may be read at

    Massive Crowd for Women’s March in San Francisco

    San Francisco police estimate that at least 150,000 people came from all over the Bay Area to San Francisco Saturday afternoon, January 21, for the Women’s March. This was a day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. A rally was held at 3 pm at Civic Center Plaza. After the rally, participants headed down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building. Many women, men and children wore pink “pussy” knitted hats as a reference to a 2005 video released during the presidential campaign in which Trump told an entertainment reporter about grabbing women by their genitals. Sister Merry Peter from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an order of queer nuns, said sisters marched in 38 cities nationwide. “We’re here because women have always been with queer people in their struggles and it’s time to pay that back,” Sr. Peter said during the San Francisco event. “Today is the day our community has said that we have to have a rally to show that this election, while (Trump) may have won, he did not end the conversation.” The San Francisco march was one of several sister marches that took place around the Bay Area, with others held in Oakland, San Jose, Walnut Creek and additional Northern California cities. and multiple other reports

    Elton John AIDS Foundation Grants Millions to AIDS/LGBT Organizations

    In the midst of much uncertainty around the future of healthcare in America, several San Francisco-based organizations working to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic just got a major boost from the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF). The foundation announced a new round of grants totaling $3.5 million to 57 organizations across the country. EJAF’s support will help provide these organizations with the resources they need to carry out their mission effectively, from combating HIV/AIDS and enhancing the quality of life of people affected by HIV to helping ensure that vulnerable populations—particularly the LGBT community—are treated fairly under the law.

    Plans Being Set for a Redesign of Harvey Milk Plaza

    Backed by a $500,000 donation from a gay California man and an upcoming international design competition, plans are being set for a multimillion-dollar redesign of San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza. The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza, SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) and AIASF (American Institute of Architects San Francisco) held a community meeting in the Castro to discuss the redevelopment and re-visioning of the plaza named for civil rights icon Harvey Milk. A capital campaign will launch in February 2017 to fund the Harvey Milk Plaza redesign.

    Obama Credits His LGBTQ Legacy to All the Individual Activists Who Said, ‘This Is Who I Am’

    In his final press conference, President Barack Obama said he “could not be prouder” of the progress made toward LGBTQ equality during his presidency, and added that the laws finally “caught up” to societal change. “I think we made some useful contributions to it,” he said, responding to a question from the Washington Blade, “but the primary heroes in this stage of our growth as a democracy and a society are all the individual activists and sons and daughters and couples who courageously said, “This is who I am, and I’m proud of it. And that opened people’s minds and opened their hearts.” President Obama added, “I think that what we did as an administration was to help society to move in a better direction.”

    156 LGBT Elected Officials Speak Out for Equality

    In an unprecedented display of LGBT political power, 156 openly LGBT elected officials sent a letter to President Trump demanding that he declare full support for LGBT equality. These officials—representing millions of Americans—implore him to “be a president for all Americans,” and to make the values of inclusion, fairness and justice the cornerstone of his administration. They make clear that they will fight any efforts to roll back LGBT rights, and warn that they will continue to oppose his anti-LGBT nominees. “Now more than ever, we need LGBT people to run for office and be our voice in the halls of power,” says Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, President & CEO of Victory Institute. “That is why Victory Institute holds Candidate & Campaign Trainings throughout the country—so we can build a diverse pipeline of LGBT elected leaders.”

    Obama Commutes Sentence of Chelsea Manning, Transgender Soldier Convicted for Leaking Classified Information

    Chelsea Manning was convicted in 2013 for leaking secret diplomatic and military documents to WikiLeaks and was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison. President Obama commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Manning after deciding that she had served enough time. Officials said the president thought that in Manning’s case, seven years behind bars was enough punishment, and that she had been given an excessive sentence—the longest ever imposed in the United States—for a leak conviction. Manning, 29, will be set free in four months, on May 17, instead of in 2045, under the terms of Obama’s commutation.

    More Than 175 Mayors from 42 States Launch Coalition for LGBT Protections

    More than 175 mayors across the country, from cities large and small, announced “Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination,” a broad-based, nonpartisan coalition comprised of local officials who support equal protections and fair treatment for all LGBT people. The launch was announced at a breakfast roundtable briefing and discussion among LGBT policy experts and dozens of mayors—including co-chairs of the coalition—at the Holland & Knight law offices in Washington, D.C. The discussion centered on what mayors and local officials can do to support their LGBT constituents and advance equal protections at home, and took place alongside Freedom for All Americans and the Center for American Progress. The co-chairs included San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “I’m proud of San Francisco’s long-standing commitment to advancing and protecting the rights of our LGBT community, and of the tremendous contributions we’ve made to LGBT culture, history, and advocacy in America,” said Mayor Lee, founder and co-chair of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination. “San Francisco is a stronger city in part due to the invaluable members of our LGBT community.” Thirty-two states still lack comprehensive protections for LGBT people, and the new administration brings increasing uncertainty surrounding federal policies. Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination will provide support and resources that can be implemented immediately at the local level in order to advance equality and affirm the dignity of all.

    Assessment Underway to Improve Local Services for the LGBTQ Community

    Horizons Foundation is leading an LGBTQ community needs assessment that will result in current, actionable data about the queer community. The data will be employed by the foundation to set grant-making priorities, and serve as a resource for community organizations and foundations. Horizons staff have been working with 14 other leading organizations serving our community, and Learning for Action to develop a survey that will help them gather this information. LGBTQ people are urged to take the survey at

    The survey links will be open for people to share their input until midnight on Wednesday, February 1.

    Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy Sponsors Student March

    Students from the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, an inclusive elementary school in the Castro, took to the streets as Inauguration Day festivities were underway in Washington D.C. Dubbed the “March of the Peaceful Penguins,” the event was organized by Castro resident George Kelly, a longtime volunteer at the academy and the man behind Project Inscribe, the Milk Academy’s World AIDS Day commemoration. According to Kelly, the students weren’t marching in protest of the nation’s new president; rather, the neighborhood march was intended to spread a message of peace, love, and unity. The students, accompanied by Kelly, principal Ron Machado, as well as teachers and parents, began their march on 19th Street carrying signs with messages of peace, love and respect. Security for the march was provided by SFPD and Ken Craig of Castro Community on Patrol.

    Texas Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Same-Sex Marriage Legalization

    The Texas Supreme Court has reversed its previous ruling and will hear a Houston case that top conservatives hope will let the state limit the impact of 2015’s federal legalization of gay marriage. The state’s highest civil court announced it was setting arguments for March in a lawsuit seeking to halt same-sex spousal benefits that America’s fourth-largest city offers municipal employees.

    Ben Carson: No ‘Extra Rights’ for LGBT People

    Ben Carson was asked about his position on LGBT housing discrimination and said he opposed “extra rights” for LGBT people. In confirmation hearings for the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Senator Sherrod Brown pressed Carson on whether he believed the HUD had “a duty” to take actions to reduce anti-LGBT discrimination. “What I have mentioned in the past is the fact that no one gets extra rights. Extra rights mean you get to redefine everything for everybody else,” Carson responded. “That doesn’t seem very fair to me.” It is unclear what exactly Carson meant in his answer. There is no statutory law that prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and discrimination on the basis of gender identity is actionable under the Fair Housing Act’s ban on sex-based discrimination. Discrimination is only prohibited by the HUD’s Equal Access Rule that bans discrimination in FHA-backed loans. The term “extra rights” is also unclear in this context. Carson defined it as “to redefine everything for everybody else,” an apparent reference to same-sex marriage rights, which the HUD does not regulate.