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    In The News: 4.20.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    LGBTQ Lawmakers in California Pave Way for Universal Health Coverage

    Openly LGBTQ Senators and 2016 Victory Fund candidates Toni Atkins and Ricardo Lara are pushing a sweeping “Medicare for All” bill that would provide health insurance to nearly every Californian. If successful, California would join Vermont as the second state to attempt universal coverage. Lara recently announced he’s running for state insurance commissioner in 2018, where he’d oversee implementation of the plan. The bill, co-sponsored by the California Nurses Association, would aim to have the government, and not insurers, provide payments and set coverage rules. Lara’s bill contains a long list of benefits the statewide program would cover. It would include, not just doctors and hospitals, but also prescriptions, vision and dental care, hospice and rehabilitative therapies, and more.

    Court Strikes Down Last Ban on Gay & Lesbian Foster Parents in U.S.

    As of now, gay and lesbian foster parents in all 50 states have the legal right to adopt children—something that could not be said in Nebraska last Friday morning. Nebraska’s State Supreme Court has struck down a decades-old ban on adoptions by gay and lesbian individuals and couples. “The era of states baselessly branding LGBT people unfit to parent is over,” said Leslie Cooper of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project in a statement. “Children in the foster care system are no longer needlessly denied access to available loving families.” There are tens of thousands of LGBT people who call the Cornhusker State home, and thousands of Nebraska children in need of a foster care placement. This victory means that Nebraska’s motto of “Equality before the Law” rings out more truly for all in Nebraska. More than 3,800 children spend every day hoping to be adopted, languishing in the foster care system in Nebraska. The ACLU said between bad placements over and over again and long stays in emergency shelters, the long wait is inhumane.

    Lawmakers Say Trump, Others Should Disclose Tax Returns to Get on California’s 2020 Ballot

    Senator Scott Wiener has authored a bill with Senator Mike McGuire—Senate Bill 149—which would require any future presidential candidate to release 5 years of tax returns in order to appear on the California primary ballot. This should be a non-partisan issue, as both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates going back 40 years have voluntarily released their tax returns. SB 149 recently passed its first committee hearing, and another hearing is lined up. The refusal by the president to release his tax returns broke the longstanding practice of disclosure, which many believe should be required. New York also seeks to force candidates to comply by using election law.

    Graffiti Continues Across the Castro

    Graffiti isn’t new to the neighborhood, but there are some specific new instances to note. First up is the defacing of the photographs and history signage at Harvey Milk Plaza, near the Castro Muni entrance, as captured by San Francisco Bay Times photographer Rink. Additional graffiti also appeared on “The Hope for A World Cure” mural on 16th Street near Market, less than a month after it was tagged by a serial graffiti vandal who hit many other Castro locations as well. Finally, new “Evict Trump” graffiti went up on the building closest to the former Home restaurant space at Church and Market, which is currently in the process of becoming a mixed-use apartment building. Graffiti is a crime and can be reported a number of ways, including 311 and 415-531-0123 for found graffiti, and 911 for graffiti in progress. Learn more at, the SF Public Works’ information page. and Rink Foto

    TRANSform Tech Highlights Transgender & Gender Nonconforming People in the Tech Industry

    Transgender Law Center partnered with Lesbians Who Tech and hosted Salesforce at their worldwide corporate headquarters, One Market, to convene “TRANSform Tech” on April 13, a day-long summit that brought together tech industry leaders and workers with transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people. Throughout the day, TGNC people, advocates and tech experts discussed challenges, explored possibilities, and shared best practices. Presenters included Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer of Salesforce and Kris Hayashi of Transgender Law Center.

    Muni Escalator Rehabilitation Is Just About Finished in Castro Station

    Rehab work will start shortly at Church Station on both inbound-side escalators—from platform-to-fare gates and from fare gates-to-street. The former already was slated for rehab at this time; the other broke down last week and has been moved up to priority rehab as a result. Those rehabs will be underway simultaneously for about five months. The popular Rainbow Lights on the Castro Station escalator into Harvey Milk Plaza from fare gates-to-street will eventually be replicated on all escalators at the Castro and Church Stations. It’s just taking some time to purchase those colored LED bulbs through “the system.”

    Changes Made in the Local Police Department

    March saw Mission Station Captain Dan Perea get promoted to Commander Perea. A new captain, Captain Bill Griffin, was also appointed to Mission Station. Captain Bill Griffin comes to Mission station with extensive experience all over the City and a commitment to community policing. Captain Griffin is following Perea’s staffing pattern and ensuring there are officers assigned to the Castro and walking a beat.

    LGBTQ Citizens Urged to Take the 11th Annual LGBT Community Survey

    The 11th Annual LGBT Community Survey, which is one of the largest LGBT surveys in the world, is now open. CMI Community Marketing and Insights wants to hear from you about various issues facing our community today. More bisexual and pansexual community members are needed for this year’s survey. It should take about 10 minutes to complete. Participating in this study helps open doors and minds around the world, and influences positive changes for our community. Previous surveys have yielded 45,000 respondents from 150 countries. Those who complete the entire survey by May 15 may enter to win one of twenty prizes: either $50 cash, or a $50 donation to a charity of your choice.

    Joe Biden: ‘I am Disgusted and Appalled’ by Reports of Torture and Murder of Gay Men in Chechnya

    Former VP Joe Biden released a statement denouncing detentions of gay men in Chechnya. “I am disgusted and appalled by reports from both the Russian media and non-governmental organizations that authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up, tortured, and even murdered individuals who are believed to be gay. When faced with such crimes of hate and inhumanity, it is the responsibility of every person of conscience to speak out—to oppose this campaign of violence before it continues further.” Biden continued, “Every man or woman on this earth is entitled to be treated with dignity—to live without fear and to love freely. Unfortunately, the human rights abuses perpetrated by Chechen authorities and the culture of impunity that surrounds them means that these hate crimes are unlikely to ever be properly investigated or that the perpetrators will see justice. But that does not mean that we should fail to defend basic human rights, fundamental freedoms, and universal values.” He concluded, “I hope that the current administration lives up to the promises it has made to advance human rights for everyone by raising this issue directly with Russia’s leaders. The United States must lead the way to demand an end to these egregious violations of human rights.”

    New $1.5M NIH Grant Targets Oral Complications of HIV

    While advances in HIV treatment have dramatically improved patient lifespans and quality of life, nagging side effects remain; among the most common is chronic inflammation—essentially, when an immune system imbalance causes the body to attack itself. Case Western Reserve University researchers are taking aim at where inflammation can be especially harmful to patient health: in the mouth and throat, where it’s been linked to oral cancer, lesions, viral infections and other ailments that can make eating painful and further weaken immune systems through malnourishment. “Restoring balance to an immune system is key after being altered by HIV and medications,” said Pushpa Pandiyan, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the School of Dental Medicine who will lead the research with a 5-year $1.59 million NIH grant. “Otherwise, a person’s natural defenses can sometimes be too aggressive, especially in vulnerable areas like the gums and other oral tissues.” Pandiyan added, “Eventually, our findings could have the potential to help HIV patients lead healthier, longer lives.”

    Dining Out for Life Helps SF AIDS Foundation

    On Tuesday, April 25, you can join more than 20,000 patrons at participating restaurants for San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s 17th annual Dining Out for Life event. Help support the free, local HIV prevention and care services SFAF provides to tens of thousands of individuals in our community each year. Dining Out for Life is a local fundraising initiative for HIV/AIDS service organizations throughout the United States and Canada. On April 25, over 100 top Bay Area restaurants will donate 25% of the day’s proceeds to San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

    North Carolina Republicans File Bill Going After Same-Sex Marriage

    Four North Carolina Republicans filed a bill that would direct the state to defy a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. It would reinstate the state’s constitutional amendment, limiting marriage to between one man and one woman, approved in 2012 by voter referendum. Same-sex marriages conducted in other states would also not be recognized in North Carolina. House Bill 780, titled the “Uphold Historical Marriages Act,” would make the 2015 Supreme Court ruling “null and void in the State of North Carolina.” The bill also claims “the United States Supreme Court overstepped its constitutional bounds when it struck down Section 6 of Article XIV of the North Carolina Constitution in its Obergefell v. Hodges decision of 2015.” Gov. Roy Cooper stated, “This bill is wrong. We need more LGBT protections, not fewer.”

    Straight and Gay Men Holding Hands Worldwide in Gay Solidarity 

    Straight and gay men all over the world were standing up to homophobia by holding hands. From New York to London, and from Canberra to Amsterdam, famous figures and ordinary Dutch citizens have been posting images of themselves on social media with the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand (all men, holding hands). The trend was sparked by reports of a group of young people armed with bolt cutters brutally attacking a gay couple, Jasper Vernes-Sewratan, 35, and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes, 31, in Arnhem, a city in the east of the Netherlands. The hashtag in support of the couple was inspired by Barbara Barend, founder of a Dutch magazine, who tweeted, “Can this whole week all men (straight and gay) please just walk hand in hand …”