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    In the News——-July 21, 2016

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    GOP Platform Calls for End to Marriage Equality; Supports Conversion Therapy and ‘Religious Freedom’ Laws

    The Republican party will officially reject the June 2015 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage with a new plank that in the current draft calls for a reversal of Obergefell vs. Hodges: “We urge (the decision’s) reversal whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.” It continues, “Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society.” The GOP also includes new support for the so-called “religious freedom” laws, wildly popular in Southern conservative states, aimed at legally protecting businesses that deny services based on religious objections to same-sex marriage. The platform additionally calls for embracing harmful gay conversion therapy. There’s also a plank backing the congressional proposal to make that effort effective nationwide with the “First Amendment Defense Act.”


    California’s Students Will Soon Learn More LGBT History in Schools

    The California State Board of Education voted unanimously on a new History-Social Science Framework that includes “a study of the role of contributions” of minority groups, including “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.” LGBT content will be included in some elementary, middle and high school grades. In fourth grade, for example, students would learn about “the emergence of the nation’s first gay rights organizations in the 1950s,” the framework states, as well as struggles in California from the 1970s to the present day to affirm the right of gay people to teach and to get married. The vote comes after the passage of the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, a 2012 California law that requires better representation of the LGBT community—along with other minority groups—in history education.


    Black Brothers Esteem to Celebrate 20th Anniversary Gala

    Strut, the 470 Castro Street center for gay/bi men’s health and well being, will on July 31 celebrate Black Brothers Esteem’s 20 years of work, and recognize the challenging, tireless efforts of its founding members. The evening will include awards for founding members, recognition of BBE’s work in the community, catered refreshments, a live DJ, giveaways to the first 100 people, and fun. BBE is the only program focused solely on black same-gender loving men in San Francisco and provides public health awareness, community engagement and HIV/AIDS prevention for gay, bisexual, same-gender loving, gender-variant and transgender individuals of African descent.


    Board of Supervisors Passes LGBT Data Collection Law

    Supervisor Scott Wiener and Assemblymember David Chiu joined with advocates to rally in advance of a Board of Supervisors committee hearing on Supervisor Wiener’s LGBT Data Collection legislation. The ordinance, which was unanimously approved,  requires city departments and contractors providing health care and social services to seek, collect and analyze data concerning the sexual orientation and gender identity of the clients they serve. Assemblymember Chiu has passed similar legislation to collect this data at the state level. By collecting this data, public agencies and non-profit partners will be able improve outreach and services for the LGBT community. The legislation was a recommendation by the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force, which was created by Supervisor Wiener and Supervisor David Campos in 2012.


    Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative Changes Name, Services

    Launched in 2007 as TEEI (Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative), the initiative has changed its name to Trans Employment Program to better reflect what it does and what it offers as the first city-funded program to help transgender and gender non- conforming people get back to work and address the economic barriers facing the community. The Trans Employment Program at the SF LGBT Community Center is a unique, collaborative program designed to help create inclusive workplaces and jobs for trans and GNC people. Despite recent trans visibility, trans and GNC communities face staggering rates of discrimination, homelessness, underemployment and unemployment. The program provides a wide range of services including job referrals and career coaching, navigating being out at work or transitioning on the job, resume review and managing references, hiring, and community event, mentoring, and legal help.


    Methodists Elect First Openly Queer Bishop in Defiance of Ban

    The Western District of the Methodist church has elected an openly gay bishop despite the denomination’s ban on same-sex relationships. Rev. Karen Oliveto was elected at a meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, of the church’s Western Jurisdiction. Oliveto is pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. She is the first openly gay bishop in the 12.7 million-member denomination. The United Methodist Church is deeply divided over LGBT rights. Church law says same-gender relationships are “incompatible with Christian teaching.” But several regional districts are openly defying the prohibition by appointing gay clergy and allowing same-sex weddings in churches. Some instances have led to trials under the church legal system. Oliveto’s election could draw complaints that will prompt a review under church law.


    Cancer-Fighting Immunotherapy Shows Promise as HIV Treatment

    In a study published in the Journal of Virology, researchers from the UCLA AIDS Institute and from the Center for AIDS Research found that a type of immunotherapy that uses artificially-created immune T-cells to fight cancer cells may also help the body to kill cells infected with HIV-1. These artificially-created cells, known as chimeric antigen receptors, are designed to target and kill specific cells containing viruses or tumor proteins. Scientists tried this approach for HIV-1 infection in the late 1990s, but the study was “abandoned for a lack of efficacy.” They’ve now decided to give the idea another try because of seven recently-discovered “broadly neutralizing antibodies” that have the ability to bind multiple strains of invading viruses, unlike earlier isolated antibodies that tend to bind few strains.


    Background Given on Bigoted Anti-LGBT Governor Mike Pence as Trump Running Mate

    Back in 2000, now-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s Vice President pick, wrote on his website in a section on LGBT issues that money from a program to help those with HIV/AIDS should go to organizations “which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” That section on LGBT issues was called “Strengthening the American Family.” It read: “Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage; Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities; Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus; Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”


    Gallery ‘Art Attack SF’ to Open Second Location in the Castro

    Along with nine other businesses closing in the Castro this summer, Frame 123 has closed its doors for good, and the next tenant for the recently shuttered storefront is Art Attack SF. Fisherman’s Wharf gallery Art Attack SF just signed a lease, and with renovations now underway, is slated to open at 2358 Market. It will be the second location for Art Attack SF, which opened at 2722A Hyde Street in 2012. Art Attack will continue to represent exciting new artists and explore new creative outlets in the Castro.


    SF Gay Men’s Choruses Fight Hate by Serenading Focus on the Family

    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus recently shared the love with anti-gay group Focus on the Family while in Colorado. Surrounding the sign at the conservative Christian group’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, the chorus sang a rousing rendition of “If You Were Gay” from the musical Avenue Q. This was part of an outreach extension tour SFGMC is doing, following the quadrennial GALA Choruses Festival, which brings together over 160 LGBT choruses from North America and beyond every four years. This year, the GALA Festival was held in Denver, and so SFGMC decided to head to Colorado Springs after the conclusion of the Festival to perform a benefit concert for local LGBT charities. They were joined by the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus and Out Loud: Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus. The groups also performed at the Air Force Academy Chapel, an apparent first for gay choruses.


    Supervisor Wiener Calls for Hearing on Preserving LGBT Nightlife Spaces

    With possible loss of the Stud and other LGBT venues in SOMA at risk, Supervisor Wiener calls for renewed, strong response to ensuring these safe cultural spaces continue to exist. He also calls for the long-stalled SOMA LGBT Cultural District to move forward. The announcement comes on the heels of news that, due to a rent increase and possible site development, the Stud (at 9th and Harrison)—an iconic and beloved LGBT nightlife venue—is at risk of closure. A community effort has come together to save the Stud, as well as many other venues in SOMA, the Castro, and the Tenderloin.


    20,000 People Participated in the 28th Annual AIDS Walk San Francisco

    This year, an estimated 20,000 people participated in AIDS Walk San Francisco, collectively raising more than $2 million. The start of AIDS Walk San Francisco was a star studded event with ABC7 News anchor Dan Ashley serving as master of ceremonies. Richard McAllister was the “Top Walker,” raising $24,528.16. Max Kirkeberg and Joanie Juster also each raised well over $12,500. This year’s AIDS Walk SF benefits Project Inform, Ward 86 at San Francisco General Hospital, Project Open Hand and other HIV/AIDS programs and services throughout the Bay Area.