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    In the News —– May 5, 2016

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan


    Life Partners Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell Receive Nation’s Greatest Small Business Honor

    The U.S. Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday named Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell from San Rafael-based Equator Coffees & Teas the 2016 Small Business Persons of the Year. The occasion additionally marked the first time that an LGBT business has been named the National Small Business of the Year. The lesbian-owned beverage business, which started with a coffee roaster in McDonnell’s garage, is a member of the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), which is the nation’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said, “Helen and Brooke purchased their own roasting plant using an SBA 504 loan. They have worked diligently with their farmers for 17 years and were one of the first roasters to support the Fair Trade movement to gain better wages for growers.”


    Mayor Lee Announces HIV/AIDS Funding in City’s Budget

    Mayor Edwin M. Lee announced backfilling federal cuts to maintain the city’s current funding levels for HIV/AIDS prevention and health services to protect essential services to the most vulnerable. The funding will maintain primary care services and critical support services for San Franciscans living with HIV/AIDS, including hospice, treatment adherence, case management and housing. “San Francisco is a national leader in treatment, housing and compassionate care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and we are fully committed to funding critical care and prevention services for those at risk,” said Mayor Lee. “Our investment provides hope to finding a cure, getting to zero and one day bringing an end to this epidemic.”


    Town Hall Held on Homeless State of Emergency

    A Town Hall discussion on what it means for our city to declare a Homeless State of Emergency was held Wednesday at St. Anthony’s Foundation. According to the city’s last biennial homeless count, there are more than 6,686 homeless people in San Francisco, with the numbers likely much higher and including many LGBT individuals. A few days before the Town Hall, Supervisor Scott Wiener said, “We need to work very hard to transition people off the streets into shelter, housing, and mental health and drug addiction services, and the last thing we should do is encourage, indeed legalize, the pitching of tents on sidewalks and other public spaces. It is already way too hard and takes way too long for our city departments to address these tent encampments and to get the tent occupants help. We should not be making it even harder to get people off the streets.” Supervisor David Campos, in an earlier statement concerning the issue, mentioned that the city has “spent millions of dollars on bad homeless policies that leave shelter beds empty; that there are long wait lists for drug treatment and detox programs; and that San Francisco, the city of innovation and tolerance has become known for our outdated, inhumane, and ineffective homeless policies, while cities like Salt Lake have solved theirs.” Co-sponsors of the Town Hall included AIDS Housing Alliance, Compass Family Services, Dolores Street Community Services, Drug Policy Alliance, Episcopal Community Services, Eviction Defense Collaborative, The Gubbio Project, Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, Hamilton Family Center, Homeless Emergency Service Providers Association (HESPA), Homeless Youth Alliance, Hospitality House, Larkin Street Youth Services, St. Anthony’s Foundation, St. Francis Challenge, Swords to Plowshares and Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP).


    Tenants Together Announces Counselor Trainings

    Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights (based in San Francisco), seeks volunteers to become tenant’s rights counselors. Tenants Together volunteers have worked alongside over 10,000 California renters as they learn and fight for their rights. Counselors help tenants fight against evictions, rent increases, uninhabitable living conditions and the wholesale displacement of their communities. Join their crew of volunteers as a hotline counselor, and get trained on tenant’s rights during the next training: May 31 and June 1 from 5:30–8 pm (both days required).


    LGBTQ Citizens Urged to Take Community Survey 2016

    The LGBTQ public is invited to take a new survey about their opinions and preferences, from an LGBT perspective. Participating in this study helps open doors and minds around the world, and influences positive changes for the community. Previous surveys have yielded 45,000 respondents from 150 countries. Take the survey at:


    San Francisco Police Required to Complete Anti-Bias Training

    San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr recently announced that all San Francisco police officers must complete anti-bias training to help combat racism and homophobia. The department also now requires officers to document any time they point their weapons at someone. Measures were additionally announced “to create time and distance from a person with a weapon short of a firearm,” Chief Suhr said. Hunger strikers known as the #Frisco 5, who began their fast on April 21 and have been camped out at the Mission Police Station, believe that such measures are not enough. They demand that Chief Suhr should be fired or resign, and repeated those demands at a protest march to SF City Hall on Tuesday., #Frisco5


    Lincoln High School in San Jose Installs Gender-Neutral Restrooms

    A San Jose high school is making a bold statement in the midst of a nationwide debate over gender rights. Lincoln High School is changing some of its restrooms to be usable by any gender. District and campus officials said the change is part of a goal of taking a stand for what it calls “inclusive culture.” The idea of setting up the gender-neutral restrooms, in addition to the usual gender-specific facilities, came from a school-wide student recommendation.


    D.C. Passes First Bill in Nation to Require School Suicide Policy to Address LGBTQ Youth

    The Washington D.C. Council passed the Youth Suicide Prevention & School Climate Survey Act. After the Mayor’s signature, the Act will be sent to Congress for the usual 30-day review period. This will be the first law in the country to require a state education office (OSSE) to develop a policy on student suicide prevention that specifically addresses the needs of LGBTQ youth, who are at greatly increased risk of suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2012, nearly 15% of the District of Columbia’s students ages 11–17 had contemplated suicide at some point, with statistics more than doubling for the LGBTQ population, ages 11–13.


    FDA Launches Public Education Campaign to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use Among LGBT Young Adults

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the launch of an historic public education campaign aimed at preventing and reducing tobacco use among LGBT young adults ages 18–24. Of the 2 million plus LGBT young adults in the U.S., more than 800,000 smoke occasionally. The “This Free Life” campaign is designed to specifically reach the occasional or “social” smokers in the LGBT community to help prevent tobacco-related disease and the loss of tens of thousands LGBT lives to tobacco use each year.


    House Amendment Threatens LGBTQ Protections for Federal Contractors

    The U.S. House Armed Services Committee passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4909) intended to overturn an executive order by President Obama that prohibits LGBT discrimination in the employment practices of federal contractors. The amendment creates a broad religious exemption that would allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT workers, effectively rescinding protections for 28 million Americans. The executive order this amendment targets generated little controversy and was implemented with no major problems. Pride at Work Executive Director, Jerame Davis, stated, “Apparently, the Republican majority on the House Armed Services Committee has not been paying attention to the outrage generated by these thinly veiled attacks on LGBTQ Americans.”


    Lawsuit Seeks Records Tied to Eisenhower’s Anti-gay Orders

    A gay rights group sued the Justice Department for failing to produce hundreds of pages of documents related to a 1953 order signed by President Dwight Eisenhower that empowered federal agencies to investigate and fire employees thought to be gay. The suit in U.S. District Court accuses the government of conducting an inadequate search for the material and of groundlessly withholding some records on the basis of national security. Executive Order 10450 allowed broad categories of federal workers, including those with criminal records, drug addiction and “sexual perversion,” to be singled out for scrutiny and termination as threats to national security. Suspicions of homosexuality led to the firings of between 7,000 and 10,000 workers in the 1950s alone, according to a 2014 report from the Merit Systems Protections Board.