Category Archives: LGBTQ

SF Marriage Equality Attorney Confirmed to State Court of Appeal

Chief Deputy San Francisco City Attorney Therese Stewart, who led the city’s nine-year legal battle for marriage equality, was unanimously confirmed by a state commission to a seat on the California Court of Appeal today.

Stewart, 57, was nominated by Gov. Jerry Brown last month and was approved by the Commission on Judicial Appointments after a 45-minute hearing at the State Building in San Francisco at which five witnesses praised her legal skills and temperament.

The commission members were Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Court of Appeal Justice Anthony Kline.

Kimberly Knill, representing a State Bar committee that evaluates judicial nominees, told the panel Stewart had received that group’s highest rating: “exceptionally well qualified.”

Stewart is known in the legal community for her “deep intellect, even temperament, effectiveness and integrity,” Knill said.

“This should be one of the easiest decisions you have ever made,” Elizabeth Salveson, a former colleague in a private law firm, told the commission.

Stewart told the commission she is aware she is best known publicly for her work on same-sex marriage and lesbian and gay rights, but said she takes the mandate of judicial impartiality very seriously.

“I come before you on behalf of no cause,” she said.

“I am prepared to listen with an open mind and provide justice to all who come before the court,” Stewart told the commission.

Later, in a brief statement to the audience after being confirmed, Stewart thanked Brown for nominating her and joked, “I can’t promise never to rule against the state, but I’ll do my best to do that only when the state is wrong.”

Stewart will join the San Francisco-based First District Court of Appeal, which handles civil and criminal appeals from 12 county superior courts in the Bay Area and northern coastal California. The appellate court’s 20 justices hear appeals in panels of three.

She will be the first openly lesbian justice of the Court of Appeal statewide, according to Brown’s office.

California courts spokesman Peter Allen said Stewart expects to be sworn in to the judicial post in mid-August after winding up some of her work for the city attorney’s office.

Stewart grew up in Marin County and earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and law degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

After working for 14 years in a San Francisco law firm, she was hired by City Attorney Dennis Herrera as chief deputy city attorney in 2002.

Herrera said after Stewart was nominated on June 28, “Terry Stewart was my very first hire after I was elected city attorney, and it has been an extraordinary honor to have someone with her intelligence, dedication and passionate commitment to justice serve as my chief deputy for more than a dozen years.”

Stewart was president of the San Francisco Bar Association in 1999.

Her role in leading the city’s nine-year campaign for same-sex marriage began in 2004, when the city attorney’s office sought to defend then-Mayor Gavin Newsom for ordering the city clerk to issue gay and lesbian marriage licenses.

Although the California Supreme Court ruled later that year that Newsom didn’t have the authority to take that action unilaterally, it said that lawsuits challenging a state law banning gay marriage could work their way through the court system.

San Francisco filed one of several lawsuits in which the state high court eventually ruled in May 2008 that the California Constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage.

A voter initiative, Proposition 8 of November 2008, overturned that decision by making the ban part of the state Constitution, and was upheld by the California Supreme Court in 2009.

The battle then switched to federal court in San Francisco, where two same-sex couples filed a 2009 lawsuit alleging the ban violated the U.S. Constitution. San Francisco was allowed to join the federal case as an official party supporting the couple’s challenge.

Lawyers for the couples and San Francisco won rulings from a federal trial judge and federal appeals court striking down Proposition 8. The case ended in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Proposition 8 sponsors didn’t have the legal standing to appeal those decisions and thus allowed same-sex marriages in the state to resume.

Gayle Cahill, a former colleague in the city attorney’s office, praised Stewart during the confirmation hearing for having been able to “think through deeply” the legal claims of the Proposition 8 supporters.

“She found elegant and effective solutions,” Cahill said.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

Supe Introduces Resolution to Lift Ban on Gay and Bisexual Blood Donors

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce a resolution at this afternoon’s Board of Supervisors meeting asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to end its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The FDA prohibits any man who has had sexual intercourse with a man since 1977 from donating blood. The agency began to restrict gay and bisexual men from making blood donations in 1983 because of the AIDS epidemic.

Wiener called the rule “archaic” and said it doesn’t take into account advances in health, awareness and screening practices.

“While it’s important to have guidelines ensuring that blood donors are not engaging in risky behaviors, being gay or bisexual should not disqualify people,” Wiener said in a statement. “No one should be treated differently because of a difference in sexual orientation.”

The FDA claims it’s not possible to control HIV risk through blood testing alone, as there is still an HIV risk of about one per 2 million units of blood, mostly from blood donated during the “window period” shortly after infection when the HIV virus isn’t detected in tests, according to the FDA website.

Thus, the FDA maintains it must continue to screen donors based on risk behavior, and men having sex with men still fits into the risk category, according to the agency.

But with 41,000 blood donations needed every day in the U.S. to keep up with need, Wiener believes the FDA can’t afford to turn away donations. Twenty-one countries have changed their policies to allow gay men to donate blood as of last year, according to Wiener’s office.

On Friday, Wiener participated in the National Gay Blood Drive to raise awareness about the issue.

Since Wiener, as a gay man, is banned from donating blood, he wrote a note to the FDA, which he posted on his Facebook page: “Please let me donate blood so I can save lives.”

Wiener will introduce his resolution when the Board of Supervisors meets at 2 p.m. today.

Drew Himmelstein, Bay City News

Over 100 Arrests During Pride Weekend Festivities

During the San Francisco Pride festivities celebrating the LGBT community over the weekend there were more than 100 arrests, according to police.

In areas where Pride activities were held, including the Civic Center area, near Dolores Park, the Castro District and along Market Street, there were 70 public intoxication arrests, 15 felony arrests, 11 misdemeanor arrests, and three guns seized, police said.

Police said more than 75 people were sent to sobering centers throughout the weekend.

During Sunday’s 44th annual Pride Parade that wound its way from the end of Market Street and into Civic Center Plaza, more than 1 million participants and viewers turned out this year.

Festivities around Civic Center continued Sunday afternoon following the parade with several performance stages sprinkled throughout the closed-off area.

This year’s Pride theme was “Color Our World with Pride.”

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

65 Arrested for Public Intoxication Over Pride Weekend

At least 65 arrests for public intoxication were made in San Francisco in neighborhoods hosting Pride celebrations on Saturday, a police spokesman said.

San Francisco police Officer Gordon Shyy said 65 of the arrests on Saturday were for public intoxication and that six more arrests were for felonies, including possession of a knife, illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition. Four more arrests were for misdemeanors.

Sunday’s Pride parade along Market Street brought participants and spectators together to celebrate and support the LGBT community around the world. Families with children, elected officials and massive amounts of employees from Bay Area companies joined in the parade.

Among those supporting the LGBT cause and participating in the pride parade, were Cupertino-based Apple, Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, as well as San Francisco supervisors David Chiu and David Campos.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

Heavy Traffic, Muni Reroutes Planned Around Pride Celebration And Parade Sunday

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is advising Muni riders of several reroutes due to today’s Pride celebration and parade.

Muni officials said the 5, 19 and 21 routes will reroute all day, and the 3, 47, 49, 76X and 108 will likely be subject to delays.

The San Francisco Pride parade is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. on Market and Beale streets.

Muni is also reminding the community there will be heavy traffic congestion in areas around Market Street due to the many people attending the parade and celebration.

Dennis Culver, Bay City News

San Francisco’s Ready For A Packed Weekend Of LGBTQ Pride

Pride Weekend is gearing up to be a packed two days with some events starting today to celebrate the LGBT community in the Bay Area and around the world.

The 44th annual San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade kicks off Saturday afternoon at noon in Civic Center Plaza with the theme “Color Our World with Pride.”

The celebration continues Sunday from 10:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. with the parade starting at the end of Market Street at Beale Street and proceeding on Market Street until Eighth Street where it will meet with the festival.

The two-day celebration based out of San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza will include hundreds of booths, vendors and exhibitors, along with musical performances on the main stage and other performance areas.

Some of the stars featured during this year’s celebration include “Orange is the New Black” online TV show cast member Taryn Manning, transgender performer Janet Mock, the band The She’s, a Jimi Hendrix tribute band, electronic dance music group Hi Fashion and many more.

During Sunday’s parade, which includes hundreds of contingents, many featuring elected leaders, community groups, and local organizations, community and celebrity grand marshals will be highlighted.

One of the celebrity grand marshals is transgender activist and author Janet Mock and TV personality Ross Matthews.
Honored as one of the community grand marshal is Jewlyes Gutierrez, a 16-year-old sophomore from Hercules High School in Contra Costa County who identifies as a transgender female.

She was charged with battery for her role in a school fight last November that was caught on video.

After her family started a petition to drop charges for Jewlyes who said she was defending herself from bullying and harassment with no help from school officials, the case was finally dropped earlier this year.

The title of honorary grand marshal goes to Chelsea Manning, following a controversy last year when the SF Pride Board of Directors flipped and decided to revoke the title of grand marshal to the former U.S. soldier, known previously as U.S. Army intelligence analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning was in military custody during last year’s controversy and would have had to be honored in absentia because the soldier was accused of leaking classified information to the online group WikiLeaks.

She remains in custody at a military correctional facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas after she was convicted in August of aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information, fraud and violating Army regulations.

The board decided in January to give her the honorary title for this year’s parade.

Pride Weekend starts bright and early for those participating in the installation of the large Pink Triangle on Twin Peaks on Saturday morning between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.

The triangle can be seen from miles away on its hillside perch and is most noticeable from Market Street where the Pride Parade and events take place throughout the weekend.

The pink triangle reclaims a symbol used in Nazi Germany to discriminate against gay citizens and highlights the ongoing struggle the gay community continues to face to reach acceptance, according to organizers.

Once the triangle, which is comprised of many large pink tarps, is erected, a 10:30 a.m. commemoration ceremony will be held with expected guests Mayor Ed Lee, state Sen. Mark Leno, state Assemblymen Tom Ammiano and Phil Ting, San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros, San Francisco supervisors David Chiu, Scott Wiener, David Campos and Malia Cohen, along with other dignitaries and celebrities.

The annual Dyke March to celebrate the lesbian community starts on Dolores Street near Dolores Park around 4 p.m. Saturday. The group, led by the famous motorcycle group Dykes on Bikes, will head to the Pink Saturday event on Castro and Market streets.

According to organizers the event is “one day where dykes can proclaim space, rights, visibility and respect.”
Once in the Castro, the Pink Saturday celebration kicks off, converging the LGBT community and allies in the heart of the city’s neighborhood known for its gay residents.

The massive street party, organized by a community group of drag queen nuns, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, will include several performance stages, food trucks on Market Street and plenty of dancing in the street.

Transportation in and out of San Francisco will be tricky this weekend with thousands of visitors and festivalgoers descending on the city.

For the festival and parade there will be several street closures in the Civic Center area, along with detoured bus routes throughout the weekend, according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation officials.

Those in cars should expect congestion downtown and are advised to avoid the area and find parking away from the center of activity.

In addition to Muni service, there are several public transportation options including Caltrain, which has weekend service from the South Bay and the Peninsula into San Francisco and back.

The first train arrives in the city at 8:36 a.m. Saturday and the last train leaves at midnight that day.

BART will run longer trains to accommodate the crowds expected to participate in the festivities Saturday and Sunday. The Civic Center station drops off passengers at the entrance of the festival and at the end of the parade route.

More information about Pride events is available at www.sfpride.org.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Supe Calls for Protection of LGBT Citizens in El Salvador

In honor of June as Pride month and the massive San Francisco Pride celebration and parade coming up this weekend, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos introduced a resolution at the city’s Board of Supervisors meeting today calling for the newly elected government in El Salvador to ensure the rights of LGBT citizens there.

Campos said he was introducing the resolution to promote civil rights in the Latin American country where people still face discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Sánchez Cerén was elected president earlier this year and his term began this month.

According to Campos, violence toward gay community members often goes uninvestigated in El Salvador and few incidents are reported because the victims are scared to reveal their sexual orientation.

He called on the new leadership to protect gay, lesbian, transgender and other community members.

Campos said San Francisco is home to a large El Salvadorian community and has “always been leading the way in calling for human rights.”

He said it was important to put on record that the city continues to “stand for the rights and dignity of all people in the LGBT community. Not just here, but abroad.”

This year’s Pride festival and parade theme has an international bent, “Color our world with pride.”

More information about this weekend’s festivities is available at www.sfpride.org.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Rainbow Flag Raised Above City Hall to Celebrate Pride Month

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee raised the rainbow flag above City Hall this morning to celebrate June as Pride month for members of the LGBT community.

Surrounded by dozens of city officials including city Supervisors Norman Yee, David Campos and Scott Wiener, police Chief Greg Suhr, District Attorney George Gascon, Treasurer Jose Cisneros, Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu and many others, Lee lowered the multicolored flag from the mayor’s balcony.

The flag ceremony comes less than two weeks before the city’s Pride weekend starting with events on June 27 and continuing through June 29.

This year’s Pride theme is “Color Our World With Pride.”

San Francisco Pride Board President Gary Virginia presented Lee with a Pride hat at a celebratory luncheon at the mayor’s office. Members of the lesbian group Dykes on Bikes shook the mayor’s hand, while chairs of the Trans March promoted the annual gathering that is held the Friday before Pride Weekend to support the transgender community.

Lee commented on San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s unwillingness to step down from speaking at a March for Marriage rally in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

The rally, billed as a pro-”traditional” marriage event, has been the focus of a group of city and state, faith and LGBT community members, which includes Lee and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. The group of about 70 elected leaders, faith and community organizations oppose the religious leader’s attendance.

The rally is organized by the National Organization for Marriage and Cordileone is one of the speakers along with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

Cordileone stood by his decision to attend the anti-same-sex marriage rally in a letter written Monday to Lee and other signers of an earlier letter asking him to cancel.

Lee said this morning that he stood by the letter he signed and maintained that it is “inappropriate to attend.”

Lee said he is willing to meet with the archbishop to discuss their opposing views. “I hope his mind remains open,” Lee said.

Lee said some of the ideas and speeches planned for the rally at the National Mall are divisive and emphasize the differences between people. “Some extreme views are hurtful,” Lee said.

This morning, a group of same-sex marriage supporters attempted to deliver 30,000 signatures for a petition urging the archbishop to cancel his appearance.

The group marched to the San Francisco archdiocese offices at 1 Peter Yorke Way in San Francisco late this morning to drop off the petition, however the office doors were locked. The petitioners instead put the signatures through the door.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

SF Archbishop Makes No Apologies For Attending Anti-Gay Rally, Yet Asks For Open-Mindedness

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone responded today to an open letter signed by Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other state, city and faith and community leaders asking him to cancel his appearance at an upcoming rally against same-sex marriage.

The letter from last Tuesday asked Cordileone to not speak at the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

The National Organization for Marriage organized the rally and Cordileone is one of the speakers along with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

In his response, Cordileone indicated that he would attend as scheduled.

The event is described online as a march that “sends a clear message to every level of society that a majority of Americans still stand for marriage as it has been traditionally and historically defined and handed down through the centuries.

“In the face of elite and powerful special-interest groups bent on redefining this cherished institution, this March powerfully proclaims that marriage as the union of one man and one woman is our culture’s best means of linking mothers and fathers to one another and to their children,” the site continues.

Cordileone’s response, which started by explaining he received the letter while out of town and has since reflected on its writings, included four points outlining why he will attend the rally.

His first point stated that, “The March for Marriage is not “anti-LGBT” (as some have described it); it is not anti-anyone or anti-anything. Rather, it is a pro-marriage march. The latter does not imply the former. Rather, it affirms the great good of bringing the two halves of humanity together so that a man and a woman may bond with each other and with any children who come from their union.”

His following points addressed what he considered factual inaccuracies portrayed by the letter signers about what the NOM organization stands for and what his co-speakers believe about same sex-marriage.

He nearly conceded with a point that stated, “It gives me assurance that we share a common disdain for harsh and hateful rhetoric.”

He continued, “While it is true that free speech can be used to offend others, it is not so much people exercising their right to free speech that drives us further apart than people punished precisely for doing so that does.”

His final point touched on stereotypes and asked for more open-mindedness.

“Get to know us first as fellow human beings. I myself am willing to meet personally with any of you not only to dialogue, but simply so that we can get to know each other. It is the personal encounter that changes the vision of the other and softens the heart. In the end, love is the answer, and this can happen even between people with such deep disagreements. That may sound fanciful and far-fetched, but it is true, it is possible.”

He ended the letter, “Before you judge us, get to know us.”

In the initial letter, which also included signatures from Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, state Assemblymen Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros, San Francisco supervisors Scott Wiener, David Campos, Norman Yee and about 70 other leaders and organizations, it states, “We respect freedom of religion and understand that you oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples. But the actions and rhetoric of NOM, and those of the event’s speakers and co-sponsors, fundamentally contradict Christian belief in the fundamental human dignity of all people.”

An online petition has reached more than 28,200 signatures asking the archbishop to cancel his attendance Thursday.

The Faithful America advocacy site states, “We need to make it clear to Archbishop Cordileone that encouraging bigotry is unacceptable, regardless of his position on marriage for same-sex couples.”

The petition is available online at http://act.faithfulamerica.org/sign/cordileonerally.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

State, Local, And Community Leaders Urge SF Archbishop Not To Participate In Anti-LGBT Event

A letter to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone signed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, state and city officials and other faith, LGBT and community leaders, asks the archbishop to cancel an upcoming trip to an anti-LGBT event in Washington, D.C.

Cordileone is scheduled to attend the March for Marriage on June 19 on the National Mall, which is organized by the National Organization for Marriage.

Cordileone is one of the noted speakers at the rally, along with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

On the event website, organizers state, “The March for Marriage sends a clear message to every level of society that a majority of Americans still stand for marriage as it has been traditionally and historically defined and handed down through the centuries.

“In the face of elite and powerful special-interest groups bent on redefining this cherished institution, this March powerfully proclaims that marriage as the union of one man and one woman is our culture’s best means of linking mothers and fathers to one another and to their children,” the site continues.

In the letter dated Tuesday, Newsom and Lee are joined by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, state Assemblymen Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros, San Francisco supervisors Scott Wiener, David Campos, Norman Yee and about 70 other leaders and organizations asking the archbishop to cancel his participation in the event, which opposes civil marriage for same-sex couples.

They write in the letter, “We respect freedom of religion and understand that you oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples. But the actions and rhetoric of NOM, and those of the event’s speakers and co-sponsors, fundamentally contradict Christian belief in the fundamental human dignity of all people.”

The letter ends, “Sadly, the actions of NOM and its invited speakers push us farther apart rather than bringing us together. We ask that you will reconsider your participation and join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred.”

An online petition has collected nearly 18,800 signatures requesting the archbishop cancel his appearance.

On the petition site through Faithful America it states, “We need to make it clear to Archbishop Cordileone that encouraging bigotry is unacceptable, regardless of his position on marriage for same-sex couples.”

The petition is available online at http://act.faithfulamerica.org/sign/cordileonerally.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco declined to comment today on the letter and petition.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Block Will Be Renamed To Honor “Tenderloin sensation” Vicki Marlane

A block in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood will soon be dubbed “Vicki Mar Lane” in honor of late longtime transgender activist and actress Vicki Marlane who passed away nearly three years ago.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution this afternoon to designate the 100 block of Turk Street as Vick Mar Lane.

Marlane died from AIDS-related health complications on July 5, 2011 at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy in the city’s transgender community and beyond.

She was known for her decades-long acting career and performances at Tenderloin venues, particularly at Aunt Charlie’s House, located on the street where she will be honored.

She had earned the nickname “The Lady With the Liquid Spine” for her drag performances, and was known for speaking out about transphobia.

An exhibit about her life and career was on display at the GLBT History Museum in the Castro District last fall.

Since her death, the community-based Vicki Marlane Memorial Campaign has gathered signatures to create the street designation and has raised funds to pay for the street sign.

The designation will be the first to recognize a member of the transgender community, Supervisor Jane Kim said.

Kim called Marlane a “Tenderloin sensation” who acted as a mentor to transgender girls and women throughout the world.

Kim said the Tenderloin was an appropriate site for a Marlane memorial because it “is the one place here that let’s people be who they are. It’s a place that accepts and takes you as you are.”

The street sign will be unveiled at a ceremony during the annual Trans March on June 27.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Under New Legislation, Developers In SF Would Have to Prove National LGBT-Friendliness

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos introduced legislation at the city’s board of supervisors meeting this afternoon aiming to protect LGBT residents from housing discrimination.

As part of Campos’ legislation, developer companies that offer housing in San Francisco would be required to share whether they have a national policy prohibiting discrimination against the LBGT community.

The city’s Human Rights Commission would then compile data from companies and present it to the board annually.

“We have a right to know,” he said at today’s meeting at City Hall.

He said the annual report would highlight good practices, and “urge others to do the right thing.”

The federal Fair Housing Act doesn’t include protections for LGBT citizens. Under the act, prospective tenants or home buyers cannot be discriminated based on other traits including race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.

According to Campos, one in five transgender people have been refused housing in the U.S. and many have been unfairly evicted because of their gender identity.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Man Could Get Eight Year Sentence For Brutal Pride Weekend Beating And Robbery

An Oakland man charged with a brutal attack on a San Francisco woman during Pride Weekend last year was convicted today in San Francisco Superior Court, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

A jury found Christopher Porter-Bailey guilty of robbery, assault and battery with serious bodily injury in connection with the June 30th attack, which occurred around 1:50 a.m. near Market and Dolores streets after the Pink Saturday celebration, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Alex Bastian.

The victim, a 28-year-old San Francisco woman, was robbed of her purse by a group of suspects and was knocked to the pavement. While she was down, one suspect kicked her in the head, causing her to lose consciousness.

Days later, police released surveillance footage (viewable below, but be prepared, it’s brutal) of the attack, which sent the woman to the hospital. She has since been treated and released.

Porter-Bailey is scheduled to return to court tomorrow for further proceedings with the judge, Bastian said. He faces a potential sentence of eight years in state prison in connection with the charges.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

It’s The 10-Year Anniversary Of When SF Started Issuing Wedding Licenses To Same-Sex Couples

9:34 PM: Inside a City Hall building lit up in rainbow colors and in front of a large rainbow flag atop the stairs of the Rotunda, San Francisco today celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its “Winter of Love” when marriage licenses were first issued to same-sex couples.

Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom joined current Mayor Ed Lee and more than 100 people at a ceremony at City Hall this evening to mark the passing of a decade since Newsom issued a directive on Feb. 12, 2004, ordering the county clerk’s office to issue the marriage licenses.

“People from all across the city, from 46 states and six nations, 4,036 couples came together to do something no more extraordinary than to say ‘I do,’” Newsom said today.

The marriages were later annulled by the California Supreme Court and years of court battles followed over the right of same-sex couples to wed.

Same-sex marriage was briefly legalized again by the state Supreme Court in 2008 before California voters passed Proposition 8 later that year, barring such unions.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on a constitutional challenge to Proposition 8 and the judges left in place a lower court ruling striking down the ban. Same-sex marriage is now legal in California and 16 other states.

“None of us expected what was going to happen,” Newsom said.

He added, “We still have a hell of a lot of work to do … 17 states isn’t 50 states.”

Lee gave Newsom a key to the city, noting it was the first time he received one after giving out many as mayor.

“He took a stand against injustice and changed history right here in this Hall,” Lee said.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, recalled learning of Newsom’s plans in 2004.
“It felt really risky,” Kendell said. “What an amazing thing we started and look where we are.”

Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, who argued on behalf of same-sex marriage for the city in the federal case against Proposition 8, called Newsom’s directive “a really courageous stance” and “a visionary act.”

Earlier today, dozens of same-sex couples went to the county clerk’s office at City Hall to thank the workers there for also supporting marriage equality.

Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis, who got married during the initial rush of weddings in 2004, led the group as they sang the famous Burt Bacharach and Hal David song “What the World Needs Now is Love.”

The couple and other members of the advocacy group Marriage Equality USA sang the same song on Valentine’s Day in previous years and staged sit-ins to protest the lack of same-sex marriage rights.

“It put a face on the exclusion and discrimination we’ve faced all this time,” Lewis said.

Billy Bradford wiped away tears as he walked out of the clerk’s office.

Bradford said he stood in the same hallway in 2004 as couples were married as well as in several later years when they were turned away and sometimes arrested at the sit-ins.

“It’s a very emotional thing to be told no so many times and that something’s wrong with you,” he said.

“Now we don’t have to get arrested, we can get married,” he said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

4:05 PM: San Francisco today is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its “Winter of Love,” when former Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the county clerk’s office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Newsom, now the state’s lieutenant governor, will join current Mayor Ed Lee for a 5 p.m. celebration at City Hall to mark the occasion.

Newsom issued his directive on Feb. 12, 2004, prompting thousands of gay and lesbian couples to come to City Hall to get married.

The marriages were later annulled by the California Supreme Court, and years of court battles followed over the right of same-sex couples to wed.

Same-sex marriage was briefly legalized again by the state Supreme Court in 2008 before California voters passed Proposition 8 later that year, barring such unions.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on a constitutional challenge to Proposition 8 and the judges left in place a lower court ruling striking down the ban. Same-sex marriage is now legal in California.

In addition to this evening’s event, same-sex couples and their supporters will gather at 3:45 p.m. in the City Hall Rotunda and will walk to the county clerk’s office to thank its workers for standing up for their right to marry.

Newsom has partnered with groups including the Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, Equality California, the Courage Campaign and the National Center for Lesbian Rights to create a Pinterest board for same-sex couples to share their memories of the 2004 weddings.

The “Winter of Love” Pinterest board can be found at http://www.pinterest.com/gavinnewsom/winter-of-love.

The GLBT History Museum in the city’s Castro District is marking the day with an exhibit featuring the wedding pantsuits worn by longtime activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, who were the first couple to wed after Newsom’s 2004 directive.

The GLBT History Museum is open on Mondays, and Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

A Russian Woman’s Perspective On Saturday’s Protest Against Russia’s Anti-Gay Policies

From this week’s Pussy Riot performance at Amnesty International’s concert in Brooklyn, to the United Nations, to a GQ “embedded reporter” article about being gay in Russia, to this AT&T blog post (and even gentle Canada!), condemnation of Russia’s mammoth abuses of queer and human rights is front and center in the media. At the same time, the Olympic Games Facebook page is collecting millions of “likes” during the opening days of the Winter Games, a source of mass entertainment for a worldwide audience in the face of persecution, imprisonment, torture and even murder of anyone who “propagandizes” homosexuality or speaks out against Russian president Vladimir Putin and his government.

The anti-gay law, passed in 2013, is the crux of this terror for LGBTQ individuals in Russia. Led by Putin, the government passed a law forbidding expression of “non-traditional” sexuality and is considering a law to remove children from gay or lesbian parents.

Because of all this, Bay Area activists have decided to join the global LGBTQ community (which organized demonstrations in 19 cities on Wednesday) in protesting the oppression of queer and civil rights and Russia’s anti-gay law, organizing a rally to take place tomorrow at UN Plaza in San Francisco.

Because I went on a trip to Russia in August 2013, I was asked to speak at a rally in support of LGBTQ people in my homeland. I could not say no.

While my experience was not as extreme as those reported in the media (and those described by LGBTQ Russian youth), I was astonished by how pervasive the homophobia was in Russia. As soon as Russian hipster youth learned I was from San Francisco, I’d be peppered with questions about what it’s like “to actually speak to a gay” and when I told taxi drivers I lived in the City by the Bay, they would ask me, “How can you stand it there with all those sickos?”

The Olympics has brought a huge focus onto this Russian shame and some reports indicate that Olympic athletes plan to protest the anti-gay law at the Winter Games. According to Radio Free Europe, “proposals have included holding hands with fellow athletes of the same sex during opening ceremonies or wearing pins, earrings, nail polish, or other accessories representing the rainbow flag – an international symbol for LGBT rights.”

One of the organizers of Saturday’s rally is the San Francisco Team of the Federation of Gay Games (FGG), an international governing body of a competition-based event that happens every four years and was started in 1982 (by the famed and SF-loved Dr. Tom Wadell) to promote inclusion and participation of LGBT athletes and allies.

“It is important to support Russian LGBT people,“ said Martha Ehrenfeld, 48, member of the San Francisco Team of the FGG and a board member of the FGG.

“Here we are, in the gay mecca of San Francisco, how could we not stand up and rally for those who don’t have the same freedoms? From the Virtual Pride House at HiTops gay sports bar on Friday night to a rally at UN Plaza on Saturday, we want to show our solidarity with Russian LGBT people and their allies.”

The Pride House Ehrenfeld refers to — or, its absence in Sochi — was another motivation for this protest, she said. First in Vancouver in 2010 and then in London in 2012, the Pride House was created and promoted as a safe place for LGBTQ athletes and allies during the Olympics. The Russian Ministry of Justice refused to allow a Pride House at Sochi, citing that it was, of course, against the law.

Co-organizing the San Francisco rally is the Bay Area Freedom Socialist Party. “As socialist feminists, we fight against oppression and felt compelled to take a stand and send Russian LGBTQ people, revolutionaries and human rights activists support from San Francisco,” said Toni Mendicino, 45, a member of the party as well as feminist group, Radical Women.

I hope to see you at the rally. Because while we here are able to point out progress (marriage equality, It Gets Better), LGBTQ people in Russia are in a fight for their very lives.

Featured speakers (who each has 5 minutes to speak) at the rally include: Roger Brigham, Founder of Equality Coaching Alliance; William Butkus, Amnesty International USA; Amy Gray, Radical Women; Bevan Dufty, Director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE), City and County of San Francisco; Lenny Broberg, LGBT activist and former International Mr. Leather; Dean Ferguson, Freedom Socialist Party; Brent Nicholson-Earle, SF Front Runners, and more.

For more information, please see an article in the Bay Times written by Masha Penkova, a student and civil rights advocate who helped organize the rally.

What: Bay Area Activists Gather to Protest Russia’s Persecution of LGBTQ Community and Demand Civil Rights
When: Sat, Feb. 8 11am-1pm
Where: UN Plaza, San Francisco

Court In SF: Gay People Can’t Be Excluded From Juries Just Because They’re Gay

Gay people can’t be excluded from juries on the basis of their sexual orientation, a federal appeals court ruled in San Francisco today.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the decision in connection with an antitrust and contract dispute between two pharmaceutical companies, GlaxoSmithKline and Abbott Laboratories, over the pricing of HIV medications.

A three-judge panel unanimously ordered a new trial in federal court in Oakland on the ground that a lawyer for Abbott improperly dismissed a gay prospective juror in the original trial in 2011.

Such dismissals “deprive individuals of the opportunity to participate in perfecting democracy and guarding our ideals of justice on account of a characteristic that has nothing to do with their fitness to serve,” wrote Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

“Permitting a strike based on sexual orientation would send the false message that gays and lesbians could not be trusted to reason fairly on issues of great import to the community to the nation,” Reinhardt said.

The appeal concerned peremptory challenges, a procedure in which each side during jury selection can dismiss, or strike, a certain number of jury candidates without having to give a reason.

In previous decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has modified the procedure by ruling that, because of past discrimination, racial minority-group members and women can’t be excluded from juries solely on the basis of their race or sex.

When a lawyer does use a peremptory challenge to dismiss a minority group member or woman during jury selection, the attorney may have to explain to the trial judge that there was a reason other than race or sex for the strike.

Today’s appeals court decision, which applies in nine western states, extends that same protection to gay people in jury pools.

Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, a national gay civil rights group, called the ruling a landmark decision and said it will apply not just to jury selection but also to other types of cases.

“It will have a significant impact,” said Davidson, who submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the appeal.

“It makes it significantly easier to win” gay rights challenges to allegedly discriminatory laws in western states, Davidson said. The decision may bolster a Lambda Legal challenge, now pending in the 9th Circuit, to Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage, he said.

To reach its decision, the circuit court concluded that lesbians and gays are entitled to the protection of a doctrine known as heightened scrutiny in challenges that contend government actions or laws deny their constitutional right to equal treatment.

In heightened scrutiny cases, laws that have the effect of discriminating against a particular group have to be justified by an important government interest. The Supreme Court’s previous rulings applied that standard to racial minority group members and women.

Today’s decision is the first time the 9th Circuit ruled that concept protects gays and lesbians as well, Davidson said. Only one other federal appeals court in the country, the New York-based 2nd Circuit, has issued a similar decision, he said.

A lower standard, known as rational basis, requires only that there is a possible reason for a law with a discriminatory effect.

Reinhardt and fellow judges Mary Schroeder and Marsha Berzon based their conclusion on an analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision last year in United States v. Windsor, the case in which the court struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The measure had barred the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states where such unions are legal.

Reinhardt wrote that while the Supreme Court didn’t explicitly say in Windsor that heightened scrutiny applies to gays and lesbians, its reasoning and the outcome of the case indicate that result.

“In its words and its deed, Windsor established a level of scrutiny for classifications based on sexual orientation that is unquestionably higher than rational basis review,” Reinhardt wrote.

“In other words, Windsor requires that heightened scrutiny be applied to equal protection claims involving sexual orientation,” the panel said.

In the case appealed to the court, GlaxoSmithKline had accused Abbott of engaging in contract and antitrust violations and unfair trade practices by quadrupling the price of Norvir, a booster drug that could be used with Glaxo’s HIV medication.

A jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland in 2011 rejected two of the claims and awarded Glaxo $3.5 million in damages on the contract claim. Both companies then appealed.

The gay juror, known as Juror B, identified himself as homosexual during jury selection by referring several times to his partner as “he,” the circuit court said.

The panel said Glaxo was entitled to a new trial because the court record “persuasively demonstrates that Juror B was struck because of his sexual orientation.”

Abbott’s pharmaceutical research business was spun off last year to a new company, AbbVie. AbbVie spokeswoman Adelle Infante said, “We are reviewing the opinion and evaluating our options.”

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

Group Gears Up To Fight New Law Intended To Protect Transgender Students

Transgender students at schools throughout the state will be able to use bathroom, locker rooms, and play sports with the gender they identify with starting in the New Year.

The law allows students at public K-12 schools to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities based on their matching gender and use facilities based on their identifying gender, regardless of the gender listed on school records.

The law, authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this summer, goes into effect Wednesday, with schools implementing the new practices for athletic groups and other school-based organizations, and modifying facilities to accommodate all students.

In the West Contra Costa Unified School District, teachers are receiving training and facilities are being updated to give transgender students options when using the bathroom or changing for PE class.

Board of education member Charles Ramsey said “we are making sure we have our staff up to speed on new regulations” and said “we are ready for this” and “we hope other schools in the state are equally prepared.”

He said the law addresses the broader issue of safety and bullying at schools.

“It makes sure our schools are safe for all kids,” he said.

The new comes after a fight broke out on Nov. 15 at Hercules High School between transgender girl and two other teens after the transgender teen claims she was bullied about her gender.

The fight prompted a special meeting in December where the school board vowed to make district schools safer, Ramsey said.

“Our schools are safe places where you can come learn and not have to feel stressed out,” he said.

New policies to prevent sexual harassment and bullying that were proposed in December will come back to the board for final approval on Jan. 29, he said.

In the meantime, Ramsey said district staff will incorporate lessons about tolerance and respect, while bathrooms and other sex-segregated facilities will be modified to accommodate all students.

“This is not to create a segregating environment,” he said. Instead, he said the district doesn’t want any teens—transgender or otherwise—to feel labeled.

A Sacramento-based group, Privacy for All Students, a coalition of parents, students, nonprofit and faith groups, has put together a campaign to repeal the transgender student law, group organizer Gina Gleason said.

Gleason said the campaign has collected more than the 505,000 signatures required for a referendum.

If the signatures are deemed valid by county registrars by Jan. 8 the law will be put to a vote on the state ballot in November.

According to the California Secretary of State Office’s count as of today there are only 249,557 valid signatures.

Privacy for All Student and its supporters finds the law discriminatory for non-transgender students, claiming on its website, “There is no protection for students that object to sharing bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms with students of the opposite sex.”

Opponents also claim, “The state should not allow mixed sexes into locker rooms and bathrooms based on a few students that claim to be a different gender than their gender at birth.”

Gleason said, “We are concerned about every student. We understand where the transgender student is coming from. We believe that accommodations can be made for students who are dealing with this in their life.”

However, she said, “We are concerned for students who don’t want to share facilities with students of the opposite sex.”

She said that the group was able to collect approximately 620,000 signatures “proves that it was important to parents that this law be repealed.”

The group has filed a lawsuit against the state secretary’s office over an issue with filing deadlines for signatures submitted in Mono and Tulare counties.

Signatures collected in those counties are not being counted because they were not submitted by the Nov. 10 deadline, while Gleason contends those petitions were dropped off on Nov. 8.

Implementation of the law may be held up at some schools pending the signature count, she said.

“Schools that do not favor this new law, they will hold off on implementing (it),” she said.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Court In SF Upholds California’s Gay Conversion Ban

California’s ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy for youths under age 18 was upheld by a federal appeals court in San Francisco today.

The law prohibiting “sexual orientation change efforts” for minors, abbreviated as SOCE and sometimes known as gay conversion therapy, was enacted last year and was the first of its kind in the nation.
Since then, New Jersey has adopted a similar law.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected arguments in which several therapists, parents and patients claimed the California law violated the constitutional right of free speech.

Circuit Judge Susan Graber wrote that the measure regulates conduct, not speech.

“It bans a form of medical treatment for minors; it does nothing to prevent licensed therapists from discussing the pros and cons of sexual orientation change therapy with their patients,” Graber wrote.

The law applies to state-licensed mental health providers.

It was challenged in two separate lawsuits filed in federal court in Sacramento. In one case, a trial judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law; in the other case, a different judge declined to do so.

Today’s ruling orders that injunction lifted, unless the groups challenging the law are able to win a stay from an expanded appeals court panel or the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel also said the Legislature had a rational basis for enacting the law after considering reports in which the American Psychological Association and other professional groups concluded that conversion therapy could harm children.

“Without a doubt, protecting the well-being of minors is a legitimate state interest,” Graber said in the court opinion
.
She wrote that in the reports cited by the Legislature, “the overwhelming consensus was that SOCE was harmful and ineffective.”

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

Petition To End Federal Ban On Blood Donation By Gay Men Gathering Thousands Of Signatures

Campbell Mayor Evan Low is fighting for gay men to be able to donate blood in an effort that has spread nationwide.

The mayor, who is running for a seat in the California State Assembly in June 2014, created a petition last week on the online advocacy website Change.org urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Department of Health and Human Services to allow gay men to donate blood. The petition quickly gathered thousands of signatures.

“I didn’t intend for this to blow up like this,” he said this afternoon.

The lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was imposed nearly 30 years ago but Low became involved with repealing the ban at the end of July when he was invited by the American Red Cross to host a blood drive in Campbell.

As an openly gay man, he said, “It’s like being invited to a party I can’t attend.”

He accepted the invitation to host the blood drive for the good of his community, but was not able to participate in the drive, he said.

The mayor wants to keep the blood supply safe, but believes that restrictions against gay men is outdated and based on old research and data.

Low said potential healthy donors unable to contribute to blood supplies, which are often tapped into during emergencies and natural disasters, is unfair.

“This is blanket discrimination,” he said. “Just because you are gay you have a lifetime ban.”

In March 2012 Health and Human Services started looking into a pilot study, which would review the criteria for donors to give blood.

According to the department, the ban was imposed for all men with a history of having sex with other men since 1977 because of documented higher levels of infections, such as HIV or Hepatitis B.

However, since the ban was enacted in the 1980s, there is higher quality testing for infections that could be transferred in a blood donation, according to health officials.

HHS formed a committee in 2010 to look into the ban on gay men donors and said the policy was “sub optimal.” The ban was left in place but remains under review.

Low said he has received support for a repeal from the American Medical Association, the American Association of Blood Banks and the American Red Cross, who have called on the FDA to review the donation policies.

Low said he has a phone conference scheduled with FDA and HHS officials in the coming weeks to discuss the policy and what next steps can be taken.

Other countries, including the U.K. and Canada, have ended blood-donation bans for gays in recent years.

As of this evening there were more than 19,200 signatures on Low’s online petition. If the petition reaches 25,000 signatures, it will be sent to federal health officials.

The petition is available online at http://www.change.org/gaybloodban.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Opponents Of Marriage Equality Express Hopes That Future Elected Officials Will Enforce Ban

In what may be the final step in a nine-year battle over same-sex marriage in California, the state Supreme Court today turned down a petition in which the sponsors of Proposition 8 sought to have the ban on gay nuptials put back into effect in most of the state.

The court, in an order issued in San Francisco and signed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, declined without comment to grant a hearing on the petition, which was filed July 12.

Today’s order appears to bring an end, at least for the time being, to efforts by supporters of the 2008 voter initiative to stop gay and lesbian weddings in California.

The Proposition 8 sponsors previously lost bids to both the state and federal supreme courts for an immediate stay of same-sex marriages, which resumed on June 28 in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The U.S. high court said in its June 26 ruling that the sponsors had no standing to appeal a 2010 federal trial court injunction blocking enforcement of Proposition 8.

The decision had the effect of leaving the injunction in place, and gay marriages resumed two days later after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay of the injunction.

Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the ban’s sponsors and their committee, Protect Marriage, deplored the court rulings and their effect on voters’ right to pass initiatives.

“The California Supreme Court’s choice not to address the merits of our case, like the U.S. Supreme Court’s choice to avoid the merits, leaves grave doubts about the future of the initiative process in our state,” Pugno said.

“Now voters will be less confident than ever that their votes will mean something. When politicians disregard the law, and the courts refuse to get involved, what are we left with?” he asked.

Supporters of same-sex marriage rejoiced.

“With today’s order, the California Supreme Court has put an end to the desperate, last-ditch efforts of Proposition 8 proponents to take marriage equality away from Californians,” said Adam Umhoefer, the executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

“Proposition 8 is gone for good, as justice and equality have once again prevailed,” Umhoefer said.
The Los Angeles-based foundation sponsored the successful 2009 civil rights lawsuit in which two couples challenged Proposition 8.

In their California Supreme Court petition, the Proposition 8 sponsors claimed the injunction issued in that lawsuit by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco should apply only to the weddings of the two couples. Both couples married on June 28.

Walker ruled that the measure violated the federal constitutional rights of equal treatment and due process, and ordered state officials not to enforce it.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Kamala Harris have contended the injunction applies statewide.
Harris said today, “Once again, equality and freedom triumph in California. I applaud the court’s decision and my office will continue to defend the rights of all Californians.”

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who represented the city in the federal case, said, “The fundamental right of gay and lesbian couples to marry in California is secure.”

Herrera said he believes any remaining legal options of gay marriage opponents “are increasingly absurd.”

But Austin Nimrocks, another lawyer for the Proposition 8 sponsors, said, “Though the current California officials are unwilling to enforce the state Constitution, we remain hopeful that one day Californians will elect officials who will.

“It is unfortunate that the California Supreme Court chose not to decide the important, still-unresolved questions about the enforcement of Proposition 8, the law of the land in California. The court’s decision today, however, does not end the debate about marriage in California,” Nimrocks said.

Proposition 8, which provided that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” was enacted by voters in November 2008 as a state constitutional amendment.

Walker ruled that the couples’ federal constitutional rights supersede the state constitutional ban.

In previous developments following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, the Proposition 8 sponsors asked that court for a stay of same-sex marriages on June 29, but were turned down by Justice Anthony Kennedy the next day.

When the sponsors filed their petition with the California Supreme Court 12 days later, they also asked that court to stay same-sex weddings while it considered the petition.

The state high court rejected the stay request on July 15.

Then, on July 23, it declined a similar request for a stay by San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg. A few days later, Dronenburg asked the court to dismiss his separate petition for review, and the court in a second order today granted dismissal.

Today’s denial of review of the sponsors’ petition was the final step in that case.

If the court had agreed to grant review, the process would have taken several months and would have included a hearing and preparation of a full written opinion. Because the court had previously denied a stay, gay weddings would have continued during that time.

The court grants review of only a small percentage of the petitions it receives.

Same-sex marriages were briefly legal for several months in 2008 after the California Supreme Court ruled in May of that year, following a four-year legal dispute, that the state Constitution provided a right to gay nuptials.

That decision was overturned when voters approved Proposition 8 as a state constitutional amendment.

The two couples who wanted to marry, Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo of Burbank, then took a different tack by basing their U.S. District Court lawsuit on federal constitutional claims.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

State High Court Turns Down Yet Another Attempt To Resume Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

The California Supreme Court today turned down a petition in which the sponsors of Proposition 8 sought to have the ban on same-sex marriage put back into effect in most of the state.

The court, in an order issued in San Francisco, declined to grant a hearing on the petition, which was filed July 12. The court made no comment in the order, which was signed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

Today’s court action appears to bring an end to pending litigation seeking to stop gay and lesbian weddings in the state, at least for the time being.

Previously, the high court on July 15 turned down the sponsors’ request for an immediate stay of same-sex marriages while the panel considered the petition for review.

Then, on July 23, the court turned down a similar request for a stay by San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg, who asked the court to dismiss his separate petition for review a few days later. The court in a second order today granted dismissal of Dronenburg’s petition.

An earlier request by the Proposition 8 sponsors for a U.S. Supreme Court stay was rejected by Justice Anthony Kennedy on June 30.

In their petition, the sponsors of the 2008 voter initiative claimed that a federal court injunction blocking enforcement of Proposition 8 should apply only to the marriages of the two couples who challenged the measure.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Kamala Harris contend that the injunction, issued by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco in 2010, applies statewide.

Same-sex marriages resumed in California on June 28 after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay of the injunction.

Two days earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had left the injunction in place when it ruled that the Proposition 8 supporters had no standing to appeal it.

Walker ruled that the measure violated the constitutional rights of equal treatment and due process, and ordered state officials not to enforce it.

If the California Supreme Court had agreed to review the Proposition 8 backers’ quest to reinstate the ban in most of the state, the process would have taken several months and would have included a hearing and preparation of a full written opinion.

Because the court had previously denied a stay, gay weddings would have continued during that process.
The court grants review of only a small percentage of the petitions it receives.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

National “Explosion of litigation” Expected Over Same-Sex Marriage

Two same-sex marriage experts told lawyers at an American Bar Association meeting in San Francisco today that they expect an “explosion of litigation” around the country in the wake of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay nuptials.

But Chief Deputy San Francisco City Attorney Therese Stewart and National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter said they think litigation in California may be close to an end.

“It’s hard to predict whether they’ll continue to fight,” said Stewart, referring to gay marriage opponents, “but we’re not terribly anxious about it.”

Elsewhere, however, Minter said, “there are cases all over the country” challenging state bans on same-sex marriage.

The two attorneys spoke at a panel during the ABA’s annual meeting, which continues in the city through Tuesday.

The session was entitled “More Than an Equal Sign: the Defense of Marriage Act, Proposition 8, the Supreme Court and Your Practice.”

In one of its two rulings on June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, had no standing to appeal a lower court ruling striking down the ban.

That decision left in place a federal trial court judge’s injunction blocking enforcement of Proposition 8, and gay and lesbian weddings resumed in California two days later.

In the second ruling, made in the case of New York widow Edith Windsor, the court struck down a key provision of the federal DOMA law that barred the U.S. government from giving federal benefits and tax advantages to legally married gay and lesbian couples.

The court did not rule directly in either case on whether a state prohibition on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

But Minter said the Windsor decision’s reliance on constitutional equal protection and due process doctrines appears to provide a foundation for state law challenges.

“There’s almost nothing in the Windsor decision that wouldn’t apply to state marriage laws,” he told the audience.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriages.

States where lawsuits contesting gay marriage bans are pending include Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia and New Mexico, among others.

The Hawaii and Nevada cases are now on appeal before the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco and are being considered together, Minter said.

In those two cases, federal trial judges upheld a Hawaii law and Nevada state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

The 9th Circuit put the two cases on hold until the Supreme Court ruled on Proposition 8 and DOMA, and has now resumed receiving briefs in the two appeals. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Minter said that another type of litigation pending in a number of states is lawsuits seeking recognition of marriages of couples who were legally wed in one state but moved to another state.

“I think people are saying, ‘We’re not going to sit back any more,’” Minter said.

Stewart said litigation in California appears to be nearing an end after the Proposition 8 sponsors and San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg lost bids to the California Supreme Court for an immediate stay that would have reinstated Proposition 8.

The Proposition 8 backers still have a petition pending before the state court seeking review of their claim that the federal injunction protects only two couples who sued for the right to marry.

Stewart, who represented the city in the federal Proposition 8 case, predicted, “It’s very likely we will see a denial of the petition very soon.”

Dronenburg withdrew a similar petition on Monday.

Earlier, the Proposition 8 sponsors asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy for an emergency stay on June 29, and were turned down by Kennedy without comment the next day.

Stewart and Minter noted that in the two rulings in June, the U.S. Supreme Court followed a judicial tradition of avoiding a broad decision in situations in which a case can be resolved on narrow grounds.

But both forecast that the court will eventually rule on state marriage laws and that a majority of the justices will find the bans unconstitutional.

“They may postpone it as long as they can, but I do think that at the end of the day we’ll get there in the Supreme Court,” Stewart predicted.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

San Diego County Clerk Withdraws Attempt To Stop Same Sex Marriages

As promised, San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg asked the California Supreme Court today to dismiss a lawsuit in which he asked the panel to stop same-sex marriages in the state.

Dronenburg announced Friday that he planned to withdraw his July 19 petition because he believes it is similar to another lawsuit filed by the sponsors of Proposition 8, the state’s now-blocked voter initiative banning gay marriage.

“At this point my case could be considered duplicative and slow the process,” Dronenburg said on Friday.
His attorneys filed a one-sentence request for dismissal with the San Francisco-based court today.

Gay and lesbian weddings resumed in California on June 28, after a federal appeals court lifted a stay of a U.S. trial judge’s 2010 injunction prohibiting enforcement of the 2008 initiative.

Two days earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court left that injunction in place when it ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8 had no standing, or legal authority, to appeal the trial court ruling.

Dronenburg and the Proposition 8 sponsors both argued in their state high court lawsuits that the injunction should protect only the two gay and lesbian couples who filed a federal civil rights challenge to the initiative. Both couples married on June 28.

The state Supreme Court denied an immediate stay in both lawsuits, but is still considering the request by the Proposition 8 supporters and their committee, Protect Marriage, for a full review of their petition.

In his original filing on July 19, Dronenburg said his arguments were similar to those of the initiative backers. But he said that as a public official whose duty to issue marriage licenses was directly affected, he additionally presented “unique interests and injuries that are particularized to him.”

Dronenburg was later criticized by several members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for taking action and retaining an outside lawyer, Charles LiMandri of the Rancho Santa Fe-based Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, without the board’s direction.

The board held closed hearings on the clerk’s action last week.

In Friday’s statement, Dronenburg said that because the issue of the Proposition 8 sponsors’ standing has not been raised in briefs submitted to the state Supreme Court in the past few days, he now feels confident his claims will be addressed in the other case.

Last month, 24 other county clerks, among the state’s 58, signed on to briefs opposing Dronenburg’s lawsuit and saying they believe the injunction applies statewide.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

Archbishop Of SF Uses Pope’s Remarks As Opportunity To Throw Shade On Marriage Equality

After Pope Francis made comments Monday about accepting gay people, the archbishop of San Francisco responded, praising the leader of the Catholic Church but reinforcing his views on traditional marriage.

The pope, 76, held an impromptu news conference with reporters on a plane heading back to Rome from Brazil.

Referring to people who identify as part of the LGBT community, he said “If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?”

He went on, stating, “They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency…is not the problem.”

The Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone issued a statement commending the pope for “reiterating the Church’s love and welcome to all people, especially those who experience same-sex attraction.”

Cordileone said the church does not judge individuals, but does judge actions.

The archbishop went on to state “with regards to sexual acts, the Church has always faithfully taught, and always will…that they find their proper order and purpose within the marital union of husband and wife.”

He called sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman “sinful.”

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

State High Court Rejects Second Bid To Stop Same Sex Marriages

For the second time in eight days, the California Supreme Court refused today to halt same-sex marriages in the state.

In a one-line order issued in San Francisco, the court turned down a request by San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg for an immediate stay of an order by state Registrar Tony Agurto requiring the state’s 58 county clerks to license gay marriages.

Agurto, acting on the instructions of Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, issued the order on June 28. Hundreds of same-sex weddings have been performed statewide since then.

The state high court on July 15 denied a similar request by the sponsors of Proposition 8, the state’s 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

Both the sponsors and Dronenburg claim in petitions filed with the court that Proposition 8 should still be in effect in most of the state, despite a June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision that dismissed an appeal by the sponsors.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling left in place a 2010 decision in which U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco said Proposition 8 was unconstitutional and issued an injunction barring its enforcement.

The initiative sponsors and Dronenburg claim the injunction applies only to two couples who challenged Proposition 8 in a lawsuit, while Brown, Harris and other officials say it extends statewide.

Twenty-four other county clerks, including eight from the Bay Area, told the court in papers filed Monday that they agree with Harris that the injunction and Agurto’s order apply to local clerks.

The Bay Area clerks supporting that position were from Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.

The Proposition 8 sponsors’ and Dronenburg’s requests for a full review of their claims are still pending before the state high court, which has set a briefing schedule that ends Aug. 8.

If the court’s seven justices do grant review, the process of receiving further briefs, hearing arguments and preparing a decision would take at least several months.

In the meantime, there is no obstacle to continued same-sex marriages. The sponsors of Proposition 8 lost a separate bid to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy for a stay on June 30.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News