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    In the News: September 15, 2016

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Eight Wins for LGBT Equality

    The California Legislature passed the final bill of Equality California’s 2016 legislative package, a total of eight bills and resolutions sponsored by the organization to win approval since the beginning of the 2016 legislative session. Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 26 passed with a final, unanimous vote by the Senate. “California has the world’s strongest civil rights protections for LGBT people, but gaps still remain,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “This year, each of our sponsored bills helped address an area where LGBT people still suffer discrimination and disparities in health and well-being compared to the general public. Our bills this session protect vulnerable LGBT teens, make sure religious colleges give public notice if they discriminate against LGBT students, ensure California tax dollars don’t go to states or cities that adopt new anti-LGBT laws, and more. We ask Governor Brown to sign these pieces of legislation so important to LGBT Californians.”

    Newly Created Department of Homelessness Works to Move People Out of Encampments and into Shelters

    In a statement issued on Monday, Supervisor David Campos addressed the ongoing homelessness and encampment crisis that is taking place in San Francisco, and particularly in the Mission. “I know you are fed up and frustrated with the situation on our streets,” he said. “I want you to know that I hear you and agree that the current state of affairs is untenable. Encampments are unacceptable. They are not acceptable for homeless people, nor for the residents and businesses around them.” He added that the newly established Department of Homelessness has made the Mission problems a priority for their Encampment Resolution Team, whose aim is to get people out of encampments and into shelters and permanent housing. “Our plan, and my commitment to you,” Supervisor Campos stated, “is to remove all Mission encampments within the next four months, in an effective and humane manner.” The current focus is the encampment around the Pacific Gas and Electric facility at 19th and Folsom. After that, the Encampment Resolution Team will address the portion of the North East Mission hit hardest, which is between 16th–19th street, from South Van Ness to Bryant Street.

    Working Group Proposed to Support LGBT Nightlife and Create LGBT Cultural Heritage District

    This week, Supervisor Scott Wiener held a hearing at the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the Board of Supervisors about how best to protect and preserve LGBT nightlife spaces and how to push forward the long-stalled LGBT Cultural Heritage District. At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, he introduced legislation to create a working group that would be charged with supporting the District, as well as LGBT nightlife. “Our LGBT nightlife venues are at the heart of the LGBT community, and we must proactively support and protect these sacred spaces,” he said. “LGBT nightlife venues aren’t simply places to go out and have fun, although they are certainly that. They’re also safe spaces and places where we go to build community.”

    Final IRS Regulations Update Definition of Marriage

    Earlier this month, the IRS issued final regulations re-defining marriage to be inclusive of same-sex spouses, following the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all states. The final regulations set forth that the term “marriage” is defined for federal tax purposes as two individuals lawfully married to each other. A “spouse,” a “husband” and a “wife” are individuals lawfully married to another individual, and the term “husband and wife” means two individuals lawfully married to each other. There is no separate designation or clarification defining “same-sex” and/or “opposite-sex” couples. The final regulations amend all tax platforms including income tax, estate tax, gift tax, generational skipping tax, employment tax, collection of income tax as source regulations, and the regulations on procedure and administration.

    Community Center Was Attacked, Leaving a $6,000 Bill for Repair

    Last month, in broad daylight, an individual armed with a pipe and shouting homophobic slurs attacked the SF LGBT Community Center. The person broke windows and a glass door, but was quickly caught, and the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. “This attack is a stark reminder of the pervasiveness of violence in the LGBT community—even in progressive places like San Francisco—and why we must continue to work to help prevent it, especially around violence fueled by homophobia and transphobia,” said LGBT Center Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe. An assessment on LGBTQ violence that The Center spearheaded last year showed that the vast majority of LGBTQ people living in San Francisco have experienced at least one significant encounter with violence: 81 percent have faced harassment, 68 percent have been physically assaulted and 48 percent have been sexually assaulted.

    Campaign in Full Swing to Put José Sarria in the California Hall of Fame

    As the International Imperial Court System—and the Imperial Council of San Francisco—celebrates its golden anniversary this year, its members decided it would be a fitting tribute for José Sarria aka Absolute Empress I, the Widow Norton, to be among the 2015 inductees into the California Hall of Fame. “It is not only a salute to the gay community, but choosing him is a salute to the Latino community and a salute to World War II veterans,” said San Diego resident Nicole Murray Ramirez, who was elected an empress of the Imperial Court in 1973 and currently holds the title of Queen Mother 1 of the Americas, Canada, United States, and Mexico. Gay former San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who led the effort to name a portion of a street in the Castro district after Sarria, the first LGBT man to be honored in such a way, said having a “heroic individual” like Sarria inducted into the Hall of Fame would be a fitting honor. Sarria would be the second LGBT leader from San Francisco in the Hall of Fame. In 2009 Schwarzenegger and Shriver chose the late gay Supervisor Harvey Milk as a member of the fourth class to be inducted. They had selected tennis great Billie Jean King, an out lesbian, to be among the first class picked nine years ago.

    Year-Old Job Openings Keep Castro’s Hamburger Mary’s in Limbo

    When last checked, Hamburger Mary’s, the decade-and-a-half vacancy of the former Patio Café (531 Castro Street) was only a head chef and a reactivated liquor license away from ending. However, 531 Castro is still shuttered. The trouble, says property owner Les Natali, is that he cannot find managers for the restaurant. “About a dozen applicants” have applied for the two open managerial positions, but “most [applications] have been from people who live outside the city or whose job experience has been outside the Bay Area,” wrote Natali in an email. “We would prefer to hire applicants who live in San Francisco and whose experience has been in here.” Once Natali and his team are able to make those hires, Hamburger Mary’s is “good to go” with permitting and licensing and “will be ready to open.” Send your resume to if you have the appropriate experience and wish to apply.

    The Castro’s La Mediterranee Turns 35

    La Mediterranee is celebrating its 35th anniversary in the Castro. The restaurant at 288 Noe Street opened its doors on September 9, 1981, as an expansion from its original location at 2210 Fillmore. Co-owner Ellen Sinaiko, who has been with the business since day one, first moved to San Francisco in 1977, when she rented a studio for $165 a month. “When you stay on the same corner for 35 years, it’s natural that you just say to yourself, ‘This area used to be so different,’” Sinaiko said. In the restaurant’s early years, the AIDS crisis was at its height, and La Mediterranee lost countless friends and customers. “It was a horrible time,” said Sinaiko, “but there was also so much love. Out of something so devastating, the best came out of the community.” While the Castro struggles these days with the rental crisis and businesses coming and going, Sinaiko believes it is still a fun and vibrant neighborhood.

    Teen Busted for Paintball Attack on Patrons of Gay Bar in Stockton

    Police in Stockton have made a third arrest in a homophobic hate crime. Austin Richardson, 18, was arrested and charged with a hate crime as well as assault with a deadly weapon: a paintball gun that police say he used to shoot a man and a woman leaving the Paradise Club. Police say the building was also struck and had been hit a month earlier. A 26-year-old woman was hit in the arm, while a 27-year-old man was shot in the back, according to the report. Two other suspects, Branden Staples, 19, and a 16-year-old boy whose name was not released, are charged in connection with the attack.

    GGBA to Honor Michael Colbruno, First Gay President of the Port of Oakland

    The Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA) is honoring Michael Colbruno in his historic election as the first LGBT person to become the President of the Port of Oakland’s Board of Port Commissioners. Colbruno also co-founded the country’s first LGBT Port affinity group with San Francisco Port Commissioner Leslie Katz and San Diego Port Commissioner Bob Nelson. The group focuses on making California ports safe and welcoming workplaces for LGBT people. The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport and 20 miles of waterfront. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. GGBA is honoring Colbruno at the East Bay Make Contact at Steel Rail, Jack London Square, 439 Water Street, Oakland, on September 22, 6–8 pm.