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    By Dennis McMillan

    ORAM Applauds President Obama’s Action to Help Syrian Refugees

    San Francisco-based ORAM (Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration) calls on the Obama Administration to safeguard 500 Slots for LGBTI refugees out of the 10,000 announced previously. “The fact that the United States will now start accepting more refugees is a very welcome development,” said Neil Grungras, executive director of ORAM. “Also, we urge the Administration to hold 500 of those slots for vulnerable LGBTI refugees like Subhi Nahas, who are escaping extremely treacherous countries. Of course the number announced yesterday should be additional to the current annual refugee quota.” There are at least 400 self-identified LGBTQ Syrian refugees currently in Turkey, a temporary host country—with thousands more in hiding. LGBTQ Syrians have also escaped to Lebanon, Jordan and other countries.

    Mayor Lee Issues Statement on Valley Fire

    Mayor Edwin M. Lee issued the following statement regarding the devastating Valley Fire in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties that has burned 61,000 acres and has destroyed hundreds of homes: “On behalf of the residents of San Francisco, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by the devastating Valley Fire. San Francisco stands ready to support and assist the families and children in this region to recover and rebuild.” The best way to help those affected is to make a monetary donation to an organization responding to this disaster and providing aid to those most in need. People can find information at “I thank all the brave first responders who are still fighting to beat back and contain this blaze, including members from our own San Francisco Fire Department,” said Mayor Lee. “This is another stark reminder that we must be prepared for any disaster or emergency to ensure our families and loved ones are safe and our cities remain resilient.” Mayor Lee urges all San Franciscans to visit to learn how to prepare and to join the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT).

    California Legislature Adopts Resolution on Blood Donation Policies

    The California Legislature has adopted Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 16, authored by Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, Eduardo Garcia and Evan Low and sponsored by Equality California. This resolution was brought forward in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) revised blood donor guidelines, which continue to discriminate against gay and bisexual men. AJR 16 calls on President Obama to encourage the Secretary of Health and Human services to direct the FDA to develop science-based protocols that focus on real individual risk rather than guidelines that discriminate against gay and bisexual men as a group.

    Two Landmark Transgender Rights Bills Pass California Assembly

    The California State Assembly has passed two bills—authored by Senator Mark Leno and co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Equality California and Transgender Law Center—protecting transgender people who work for companies doing business with state agencies and transgender children in the foster care system. The first bill, Senate Bill 703, prohibits state agencies from doing business with companies that fail to offer transgender employees the same health care coverage and benefits they provide all other workers. The second bill, Senate Bill 731, extends to all foster children the right to placements consistent with their gender identity. Both bills will return to the Senate for a vote on amendments taken in the Assembly before heading to the Governor’s desk for consideration.

    Election Results Are In for Golden Gate Business Association

    At their annual meeting, Golden Gate Business Association elected the following candidates as GGBA’s newest board members: Bryon Heinrich, Dawn Ackerman, Gina Grahame, Jay Greene, John Eric Henry, Nicole Jackson and Theresa Ensminger. GGBA is the first business organization founded by LGBTQ entrepreneurs. The GGBA is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, membership-driven organization consisting of over 350 business entities, community organizations and individuals. The membership also voted to approve bylaws changes to increase the number of board members to 21.

    War Memorial Veterans Building Re-dedication Ceremony Held

    The San Francisco War Memorial Board of Trustees invited the public to join Mayor Edwin M. Lee and members of the City family to celebrate completion of the War Memorial Veterans Building renovation. The Vets building has been home to The Alexander Hamilton Post 448 of the American Legion—the only post whose veteran membership is predominantly LGBTQ. A ribbon cutting and Re-dedication Ceremony took place in the historic Herbst Theatre, followed by an Open House to learn more about the Seismic and Life-Safety Improvement Project. sfwmpac.or

    Training Offered for Volunteers with Castro Community on Patrol

    Castro Community on Patrol (CCOP) invites the public to become a patrol volunteer. A 3-hour patrol once a month helps keep the Castro and Duboce Triangle neighborhoods safer. The next free training session is Saturday, September 19, at 1pm. All volunteers must complete the Patrol Basic Training Class in order to be fully acquainted with the role and function of CCOP. The training requires reading a written manual and then attending a 3 ½-hour practical class to fulfill the basic training component. Completing the Patroller training does not obligate anyone to actively patrol with CCOP; there are other opportunities for volunteers if they elect not to patrol.

    SF Sheriff to Move Transgender Women into Daytime Programming in Women’s Jail

    San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi announced that he is implementing a policy that will allow transgender women to receive programming in the women’s jail. Although the women will participate in classes, job training, physical recreation and other programs in the women’s jail during the day, they will remain in the men’s jail during the evenings and overnight. Several local organizations, including TGI Justice Project and Transgender Law Center, have been working on these issues with the Sheriff’s Office for more than two years.

    Kate Kendall to Receive CEDAW Human Rights Award

    Kate Kendall, executive director of National Center for Lesbian Rights, will be receiving the 2015 CEDAW Women’s Human Rights Award for Leadership on October 5 at the CEDAW Luncheon. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy and public education. The Leadership Award is presented to an individual who has shown extraordinary vision in promoting women and the CEDAW principles in innovative and collaborative ways that have resulted in fundamental change.

    Estate Planning for Singles and Same-Sex Couples Offered

    The law provides a default estate plan for every person, but it may not reflect your wishes, so Hospice by the Bay offers a plan tailored to your own life and priorities. A free seminar will be held at 180 Redwood Street, Suite 350 on Thursday, October 1, 6:30–7:30pm. For same-sex couples, changing laws may also impact your estate plan. This seminar will offer options for your financial and health care decisions, and ensure your wishes will be followed after your death. Pre-registration is required by calling (415) 526-5580.

    Supervisor Wiener Calls for Subway Master Plan

    Supervisor Scott Wiener is introducing legislation requiring the creation of a Subway Master Plan, with a goal that San Francisco expands its inadequate subway system. Currently San Francisco has two subways—a short subway under Market Street for Muni, and a BART subway that runs down Market Street to the Mission and to Daly City. Most of San Francisco has no subway access at all. A second Muni subway tunnel, the Central Subway, is under construction and will be open in 2017. The Subway Master Plan will require that the City come up with an outline for long-term subway expansion throughout the entire city.

    Volunteers Sought for Castro Street Fair

    The Castro/ Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association (C/EVNA) has been designated as a beneficiary of the Castro Street Fair happening on Sunday October 4. Just as in the past, they can earn a portion of the fair proceeds according to the number of volunteer hours that they can donate. The more the fair makes, the more hours they donate, and the more they earn. Last year, they raised over $1,700 for the general fund going to community outreach, improvements and donations to area issues. There are gate staff, first aid, stage hands, tear down and set up positions available.

    Transgender Asylum Seekers Can’t Be Equated with Gays

    Transgender people can be especially vulnerable to harassment and attacks and shouldn’t be equated with gays and lesbians by U.S. immigration officials determining whether to grant asylum, a federal appeals court said. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling in the case of a transgender Mexican woman who sought shelter in the U.S. on the grounds that she would likely be tortured if returned to Mexico. Edin Avendano-Hernandez said she had been sexually assaulted, by uniformed Mexican police and a military official, for being transgender. The Board of Immigration Appeals wrongly relied on Mexican laws protecting gays and lesbians to reject Avendano-Hernandez’s asylum request, the ruling states. The 9th Circuit said transgender people face a unique level of danger and are specifically targeted in Mexico by police for extortion and sexual favors.