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    In the News: 04.05.2018

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Supervisors Approve Naming Terminal 1 at SFO After Harvey Milk

    On April 3, San Francisco supervisors voted to name Terminal 1 at the San Francisco International Airport after Harvey Milk. The vote followed four years of debate over the matter. The terminal is undergoing a $2.4 billion renovation, and is scheduled to reopen in phases next year. Former supervisor and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and former supervisor Harry Britt spoke at the meeting. Ammiano said that the naming was “a significant moment in San Francisco history.” He added, “One message that Milk gave was let’s connect the dots. He posited being queer as something very generous and something very open. Rather than turn the community inward he asked that we turn the community outward and look at other marginalized communities and embrace and give them empathy.”

    California Lawmakers Propose Limits on When Police Can Use Guns

    CA Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and other state lawmakers proposed on April 3 that California should become the first state to significantly restrict when officers can open fire. “Reasonable force,” which is now the standard, would be changed to “necessary force.” The proposal follows last month’s shooting of Stephon Clark, who was suspected of breaking into cars and chased by police into his grandparents’ backyard. Officers thought he had a gun, but investigators later only found a cellphone. The shooting sparked massive protests supported by many LGBT and other community leaders. Weber said on Tuesday, “Law enforcement is charged with protecting and serving all communities. At times the use of deadly force is used at a terrible cost to all involved. We need to ensure our state policies govern the use of deadly force stresses the sanctity of human life and is only used when necessary.”

    Questions Remain About Lesbian Couple’s Fatal Cliff Car Crash

    Married couple Jennifer and Sarah Hart and three of their six adopted children were found dead on March 26 after their SUV plummeted down a 100-foot cliff on the coastline of Mendocino. The other three children are missing and presumed dead. The speedometer indicates that the vehicle was traveling at 90 mph when it crashed. The driver and passengers were not wearing seat belts and there were no skid marks found at the site. Greg Baarts, acting assistant chief for the northern division of the California Highway Patrol, told NBC affiliate KGW8-TV: “We do have reason to believe, however, that the crash was intentional. This is all based on preliminary information.” Authorities were about to investigate the couple for child abuse, following reports from a neighbor that the couple’s teenage son Devonte repeatedly knocked on their door, asking for food. Were the women reenacting the final scene of Thelma and Louise, in which the leads drive themselves over a cliff? Police are continuing to investigate the incident. The neighbor’s earlier action reminds us that anyone in San Francisco can make a report of suspected child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. A confidential report can be made anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phoning the Family and Children’s Services Abuse Hotline: 800-856-5553. and other reports

    San Francisco Mayoral Candidates Respond to LGBTQ Heritage Policy Survey

    LGBTQ historic sites, legacy businesses and cultural nonprofits have come under growing pressure in San Francisco due to the effects of the tech and real estate booms in the city. As a result, queer heritage has increasingly become an issue in local debates around public policy. Answers to an exclusive survey just released by the GLBT Historical Society place candidates in the race for San Francisco mayor on the record regarding this vital subject. “The preservation of our history, the strength of our living cultural heritage and the very survival of our city’s dynamic and innovative LGBTQ community are inextricably linked,” said Terry Beswick, executive director of the Society. “Each of those crucial elements of well-being for queer people faces significant challenges in San Francisco.” Beswick continued, “That’s why we’re exceptionally pleased that all eight candidates for mayor responded to our survey. The participation of all the candidates is a testament to the value of LGBTQ culture and heritage in San Francisco.” The special election for mayor of San Francisco is set for June 8. The declared candidates are Angela Alioto, Michelle Bravo, London Breed, Richie Greenberg, Jane Kim, Mark Leno, Amy Farah Weiss and Ellen Zhou. The survey that the GLBT Historical Society distributed to the candidates’ campaigns can be found online (

    San Francisco Mayoral Candidate Mark Leno First to Qualify for Public Funds

    San Francisco Mayoral candidate and former State Senator Mark Leno became one of the first two mayoral campaigns eligible to receive public funds. Leno met the qualifications for participation in the public financing program by raising over $50,000 in small-dollar contributions between $10 and $100. The campaign will now receive $100,000 as an initial grant of public funds from the San Francisco Election Campaign Fund. “This campaign will beat the avalanche of millions in secret Super PAC money because of the thousands of donations from every day San Franciscans,” Leno said. “It’s time we put City Hall back in the hands of the people. This first milestone is key to ensuring we do that.” Leno expects to qualify for all $975,000 of public funding within the next few weeks. As of the March 27 announcement, Leno has raised over $725,000. He was the first candidate to officially enter the race. If elected, Leno would be the first openly LGBTQ person to serve as San Francisco Mayor.

    California Senator Scott Wiener Endorses Mayoral Candidate London Breed

    In other San Francisco election news, State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) held a press conference on April 2 to announce his endorsement of Board of Supervisors President London Breed for mayor. The event was attended by several LGBT community leaders, such as longtime city Commissioner Debra Walker and Roberta Achtenberg, formerly of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the first openly LGBT public official in the U.S. whose appointment to a federal position (Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. At the event, Wiener also praised Leno, saying: “It’s important for me that we elect and excellent mayor, and these are two candidates who would be an excellent mayor.”

    AARP Releases LGBTQ Senior Study

    A new AARP survey, “Maintaining Dignity: Understanding and Responding to the Challenges Facing Older LGBT Americans,” gives alarming statistics about the LGBTQ aging experience. The survey finds that half (52%) of LGBTQ adults said they fear discrimination in health care as they age. And 88% of LGBTQ older people want providers in long-term care (LTC) facilities who are specifically trained to meet LGBT patient needs. One-third of LGBTQ elder Americans stated that they were “somewhat worried” regarding having to hide their LGBTQ identity in order to have access to suitable housing. Black and Latino LGBTQ adults reported the greatest concerns about future family support, social supports, and discrimination within LTC facilities.

    GetEQUAL Releases Closing Statement

    On March 27, GetEQUAL Executive Director Gaby Garcia-Vera released a “Closing Statement” mentioning that the organization is shutting down. Previously, the organization had fired its Movement Building and Campaign Manager, Aaryn Lang, a black trans activist. Lang, in turn, accused GetEQUAL of misogyny and anti-black transphobia, and urged followers to #BoycottGetEqual. Lang also made three demands of the organization: that they pay her three months of severance, overhaul the board, and donate to several black queer organizations including the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Trans Sistas of Color Collective, Black Queer and Intersectional Columbus, and No Justice No Pride. Garcia-Vera’s statement reads, in part, “I do not believe GetEQUAL can recover from this controversy. Our financial assets are barely sufficient to cover our operations for more than a few weeks. Our board of directors has collapsed. Raising new revenue and rebuilding the board would be a tremendous challenge even if we weren’t in the middle of a social media storm. But even more importantly, I fear that our capacity to advance our mission has been undermined. GetEQUAL has always been the left of the left, the voice of the voiceless, and I don’t feel we can effectively play that role when there has been so much division and hurt among the communities that we mobilize and represent. And so, with a heavy heart, I have begun taking steps to close GetEQUAL, this organization that I love and cherish.”

    The entire statement is online (

    Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN Argue Against Transgender Military Ban

    Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN argued before a federal district court on March 27 that the Trump Administration’s plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services is so clearly unconstitutional that it should be permanently blocked. It was the first such argument among the four lawsuits challenging the ban and came just five days after the White House released its so-called “plan” for implementing the discriminatory and harmful ban. The argument before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington follows four U.S. district court rulings and two federal appellate court rulings that granted and preserved preliminary injunctions against enforcement of the ban. Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, joined by the State of Washington, are the first to argue that the military ban developed in response to President Trump’s July 26, 2017, tweets should be banned permanently. “The president’s tweets utterly devastated me. I felt as if the floor had fallen away beneath my feet,” said Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN plaintiff Conner Callahan, a 29-year-old public safety officer at a North Carolina College who wants to enlist. “I know about sacrifice: I’ve sacrificed a lot to live as my authentic self and I am willing to sacrifice even more for my country. But because of this ruling, I’ve been forced to consider a future where I am unable to serve in the military. We need a definitive ruling from the court to allow me to pursue the career I am fully fit and qualified to pursue.”

    Human Rights Campaign Lobbies for Equality Act

    Hundreds of HRC’s members are fanning out across Capitol Hill to advocate for the Equality Act, which would provide consistent and explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. HRC notes that currently 244 bipartisan members of Congress, 198 in the House and 46 in the Senate, have co-sponsored the Equality Act. “That’s incredible momentum, and we have to keep building towards full federal equality for the LGBTQ community,” says David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “Our members and supporters are also calling on Congress to take action on our other legislative priorities: a clean DREAM Act and common-sense gun safety legislation.”