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    In the News: 7.27.17

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Ringold Alley Marks San Francisco’s Leather Community History

    On July 25, a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Grand Reveal of Ringold Alley took place at the alley, which is behind the L Seven Apartments at 1222 Harrison Street. Mark Leno and other officials were present at the event that celebrated San Francisco’s leather community. The street was important to this culture for many years before the HIV/AIDS crisis. There, gay men would often gather after visiting bars and clubs along the “Miracle Mile” (Folsom Street). The alley now has a “Leather Memoir” of monuments, such as a black granite marker stone with information about the location’s history, other stones with engravings honoring certain LGBT businesses and organizations, and boot prints with the names of select community leaders. The project, called the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley, was largely envisioned by the late Jim Meko, who before his death in 2015 got the effort underway. For more information, including a full list of the people honored with boot prints, please go to:

    San Francisco was among the four cities ICE acting director Thomas D. Homan labeled as being among the most dangerous in the nation due to alleged harboring of criminal illegal immigrants, according to a Washington Examiner report. Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia were the other three named cities. “Sanctuary cities, in my opinion, are un-American,” he told journalist Paul Bedard. “These jurisdictions, these cities, are choosing to shield people who violated the laws of this country that committed a crime against this country; they’re going to shield them. So, what’s next? Sanctuary cities for people who don’t want to pay their taxes?” Officials from several Bay Area cities counter such views expressed by not only Homan, but also the Trump administration and others within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In April, for example, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement that the president and attorney general “either don’t understand the Constitution or choose to ignore it.” Oakland has even further strengthened its status as a sanctuary city. See Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s column on page 8 for more information about an important new measure.

    Oral History Project to Chronicle, Preserve History of AIDS Direct-Action Groups

    The GLBT Historical Society has launched a wide-scale oral history project to chronicle, preserve and share the history of ACT UP/San Francisco and other AIDS direct-action groups in the city. ACT UP/San Francisco was a highly visible and influential group of militant AIDS activists associated with a national network of independent organizations that shared the name AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. In addition to creating historical documentation, the project aims to foster dialogue between ACT UP veterans and younger organizers active in the current upwelling of social justice organizing. The initiative will train people ages 18–29 to conduct oral histories and to actively shape project outcomes. Through round-table conversations, listening parties and other public events, the project will draw on the history of AIDS direct action in San Francisco to inform contemporary resistance. If you wish to share your own story or to volunteer for the new project, contact Joey Plaster ( An active Facebook group for the project has also been created:

    Entertainment Commission Approves Permit for Castro ‘Hamburger Mary’s’

    The Entertainment Commission has voted unanimously to approve a permit that clears the way for Hamburger Mary’s to open at 531 Castro Street, a venue that has been shuttered for more than 15 years. According to representatives of building owner Les Natali, neighbors can expect the business to open sometime after Labor Day. The Planning Commission met in 2014 to discuss Natali’s request for a conditional use permit (CU) to comply with City laws that require businesses with 11 or more locations to obtain special approval. The request for a CU was granted then, but the commission required Natali to obtain a Place of Entertainment permit that would allow the restaurant to operate with live music, drag performances, and VJ and DJ performances.

    Landmark Apartment Complex Opens for Senior Residents in the Western Addition

    Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Supervisors President London Breed and local community members recently celebrated the opening of the Willie B. Kennedy Apartments, a 98-unit development for senior residents in the Western Addition. The apartment complex is the first development in San Francisco to utilize the City’s Anti-Displacement Housing Preference, which creates housing preferences for local residents who live in neighborhoods undergoing extreme displacement pressure. As a result of the preference, 40 percent of the units—a total of 39—were prioritized for residents who have been identified as having the greatest risk of economic displacement.

    To Test New LRVs, Muni Metro to Suspend Evening, Weekend Service

    To test Muni’s new light-rail vehicles (LRVs), subway service between Montgomery and West Portal stations will close at 9:30 pm on weekdays and will remain closed completely on weekends for a month. The test phase began on Saturday, July 22, and will last through Sunday, August 20. Riders should keep in mind that even if stations close at 9:30 pm, the last trains may depart up to half an hour before that. Bus shuttles will substitute for underground train service between Embarcadero Station and St. Francis Circle. They will stop at all Muni Shuttle Flag stops, which are marked with yellow half-moon flags.

    U.S. House of Representatives Votes Down Transphobic Amendment

    OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partner Association are praising a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to reject an amendment that would have ripped away health care for transgender service members and military dependents. Proposed by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), the amendment would have barred access to transition-related health care—including hormone therapy—for service members and military family members. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 214 to 209.

    ​​Man Sues Congress Members Over Pride Flags, Claims Being Gay Is a Religion

    A man who has tried to take down same-sex marriage by repeatedly trying to marry his laptop is suing four Democrats in the House for displaying rainbow pride flags in support of the LGBTQ community in front of their offices. Chris Sevier, an attorney, filed the lawsuit against Reps. Susan Davis of San Diego, Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, Don Beyer of Virginia and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. Sevier is asking the federal District Court in the District of Columbia to determine that “‘homosexuality’ and other forms of self-asserted sex-based identity narratives are a ‘religion,’” and that the pride flags constitute a religious symbol for the “homosexual denomination.” He is asking for $1 in damages, and that the flags be removed from the hallways. He also wants the politicians removed from office, claiming they are “representing an internalized danger to National Security interests.”

    Trump’s Attacks on LGBTQ People Continue

    Since Inauguration Day, GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project has worked tirelessly to track the many ways the Trump Administration has attacked and attempted to erase LGBTQ people. They recently released a list of 25 ways President Trump has harmed the LGBTQ community. Among the findings: With the help of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Trump rescinded Title IX protections for transgender students in our nation’s schools; President Trump appointed anti-LGBTQ activist and former Heritage Foundation employee Roger Severino to lead the Health and Human Services Civil Rights Office, putting the LGBTQ community at risk of losing access to critical and affordable health care; and the Trump administration revealed their budget that includes proposed slashes to programs and departments critical to the LGBTQ community, including Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Disease Control’s HIV and AIDS programs. Those are sadly just a few of the many named actions.

    Statewide Legislation to Address City’s Housing, Homelessness

    In an open house at his office with local media, Assemblymember David Chiu said he’s starting to see support for his measures aimed at addressing San Francisco’s shortage of affordable housing. The state stopped investing in housing after the 2009 recession, as redevelopment agencies were defunded and bond money dried up, Chiu said. When he was elected in 2014, he began floating housing measures to address the housing crisis. This year, more than 130 housing bills have been introduced because a crisis is perceived statewide, he said. In San Francisco, the City is gradually taking steps to address the housing crisis. The Board of Supervisors, for example, is again considering changes to the City’s affordable and inclusionary housing requirements.

    Conservative Pro-Trump Broadcast Group to Reach 70% of American Households

    The pro-Trump propagandist Sinclair Broadcast Group has bought Tribune Media for $3.9 billion—a move that would give the company ownership of enough local television stations to reach 70% of American households. Sinclair’s acquisition raised concerns among some media watchdogs and left-leaning commentators not just because of worries over concentrated ownership—most other TV-station groups reach less than 20% of American households—but also because of who the owner is. David Smith, the group’s executive chairman, is a conservative ally of Trump who, critics say, puts his stations in the service of Republican causes.

    Anthony Scaramucci Hasn’t Deleted Support for Same-Sex Marriage

    Some of Anthony Scaramucci’s views have “evolved,” but so far, the new White House communications director hasn’t deleted tweets about his support for marriage equality. Scaramucci, who recently took over communications for the Trump team, deleted a large batch of tweets because his “past views evolved.” Since his supportive tweets are still posted, presumably marriage equality isn’t on the list of changing views. It would be hard for Scaramucci to backtrack on LGBT rights, which catalogued his long record of supporting marriage equality, including donations by his company to the Human Rights Campaign. Scaramucci’s support dates back to at least 2012, when he cited being “for Gay Marriage” as evidence he isn’t partisan. In January of that year, Scaramucci was clear: “Republicans should support gay marriage.” He even cheered when he said his mom told him she supports same-sex marriage.