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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the January 18, 2005 Meeting

Committee Members Present: Commissioner Cecilia Chung, Commissioner Pat Norman, Dora Balcazar, David Cameron, Ben Chan, Julie Frank, Becky Freund, Ted Guggenheim, Danny Kirchoff, Aidan Kotler, Patrick Mulcahey, Ren Phoenix, Aleem Raja, Jorge Romero-Lozano, Stephen Schwichow, Brooklynne Thomas, Morningstar Vancil.

Committee Members Absent: Sally Buchmann, Ellise Nicholson (excused).

Staff Present: Larry Brinkin, Domenic Viterbo.

Guests Present: Chris Daley, Nancy Lawlor, Ben Lunine, Eli seMbessikwini, Briana Morgan, Peter Trinkl, Doug Wolff.

  1. Call to Order and Roll Call:

    Commissioner Norman called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. Mr. Brinkin called the roll.

  2. Approval of Minutes of November 16, 2004:

    Commissioner Chung moved to approve the minutes as written. The motion passed unanimously.

  3. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda:

    There were no public comments.

  4. Panel: Transgender Marriage

    Ms. Thomas introduced Chris Daley of the Transgender Law Center and Briana Morgan who will be discussing the legal aspects of transgender marriage. Ms. Morgan, who finished law school in May, is a clerk for a federal district court judge in Sacramento.

    Ms. Morgan had done her note in law school on transgender marriage case law and gave an update on the political issues. She found that case law was completely ignoring gay marriage but transsexual marriage was being dealt with. She hoped to come up with a tool to help courts define sex, the issue with which the courts are grappling. She cited a case from the 70s in England called Corbett in which people were trying to change their birth certificates and a case called M.T. in New Jersey which dealt with transsexual marriage. These cases were seen as ‘sex cases’; not sex by gender but rather how they were having sex. In Corbett, the court said that sex was about having babies and that a person with a reassigned sex cannot have a baby in the ‘natural’ way so they’re being defined the way you’re supposed to have babies. The liberal courts talked about how you would naturally have sex, who you want to have sex with. These cases dealt with post-op transsexuals. The law defines sex one way and that is by biology and this is the still true to this day. They don’t consider the mental sex of the individual, who you are inside, which is very biological; they think of chromosomes, gonads, genitalia.

    Ms. Morgan cited the oft-used dictum that "marriage is a relationship that depends on sex and not gender." The courts haven’t taken the time to decide what those two things are and how they’re different. In the M.T. case, they focused more on the physical aspects of what you can and can’t do and said that a transsexual is "physically and psychologically unified and fully capable of sexual activity with their reconciled sexual attributes of gender and anatomy." This looks at the roles of sexuality in marriage.

    Ms. Morgan cited an article written by a professor, Julie Greenberg, for the Arizona Law Review called "Defining Male and Female: Intersexuality and the Collision Between Law & Biology", 1999. This is the first time that any legal scholarship discusses how a court can define sex. Greenberg she said that sex was defined by using biology which doesn’t work for millions of people. She explained that many people in the world are intersex and that not everyone’s sexual characteristics are congruent. This was the first time that anyone said that sex was not binary; the great thing is that cases started citing this. There is now a legal authority saying that sex is not what we thought it was. Greenberg wrote that the law should not continue to force intersexuals farther into the deepest recesses of their closet by failing to acknowledge their existence and their self-identity.

    Mr. Daley said that when talking about marriage, the big issue in terms of creating a legalized relationship in California, is that you can enter into a marriage with someone of the opposite sex, or enter into a domestic partnership. If both partners are under 62 years of age, the domestic partnership has to be same-sex. Both of these types of relationships are premised on the idea that the state determines what your legal sex is and that there are only two sexes. People who identify outside of that spectrum have to portray their lives in such a way that they fit into a box which doesn’t fit them.

    Mr. Daley added that in a pre-transition marriage, an opposite-sex couple gets married, but one partner transitions, and now they’re a same-sex couple. They have a valid marriage license, are still the same two people, but the question becomes whether that couple is still married. He added that TLC’s position on this is that when a marriage license is issued, that’s when you look at the state of the couple. But the problem is that same-sex couples, when they’re trying to assert their marital rights hit all kinds of barriers.

    A post-transition marriage is when an individual has transitioned and has married based on their gender identity rather than on their birth-identified gender. These types of marriages are more common. Mr. Daley cited a case of a trans father who risked losing custody of his two children because his ex-spouse is saying he’s a woman and that two women can’t get married in Florida. The trial court said that he’s a man and that he can maintain custody of his children; however, the appellate court reversed, a decision meant to enforce a ban on same-sex marriage.

  5. Approval of Public Hearing Report on Intersex Issues (Action Item):

    Mr. Cameron said that the word "hormones" found in the Findings and Recommendations section of the report should say "sex hormones." He also feels that the definition of Kleinfelder’s Syndrome wasn’t defined enough. Eli seMbessikwini asked that the introduction to the report indicate that the hearing was about not only normalization but was more broadly on social, political, and ethical issues related to intersex people.

    It was moved and seconded to recommend the report to the Commission; the motion passed unanimously.

    Commissioner Norman thanked Mr. Raja for his leadership in assisting the Committee in coming to consensus regarding the report.

    Mr. Brinkin recommended that Committee members come to the Commission meeting on January 27 prepared to discuss the report and to answer the Commissioners’ concerns.

  6. Report on Recruitment of New Members:

    Mr. Brinkin reported that the deadline to receive application letters from prospective new members was last Thursday and that ten applications were received. He isn’t sure on the diversity of the applicants, but all will be interviewed. The recruitment committee consisting of Commissioner Chung, Ms. Nicholson, Mr. Romero-Lozano, Mr. Schwichow, and Mr. Brinkin will conduct the interviews on Tuesday, February 1 then make recommendations.

  7. Commissioner Report:

    Commissioner Norman reported that the resolution in memory of Scott Campbell, which was passed last July, was presented at the last Commission meeting to Steve Spanjers, Scott’s partner. Mr. Mulcahey and Mr. Viterbo shared some memories of Mr. Campbell.

    Commissioner Norman asked the Committee to start thinking now about participating in this year’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Celebration and Parade in order to bring people’s attention back to human rights. She also reported that Thursday, January 20, is National "Not A Damn Dime" Day, a national boycott coinciding with President Bush’s second inauguration. She added that there will be a non-partisan demonstration that same day. She asked if there can be more of a presence of the advisory committee at Commission meetings on a regular basis to add a voice to issues raised affecting the LGBT community.

  8. Staff Report:

Mr. Brinkin reported on the HRC’s unknown future due to the possible relocation of its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise ("DBE") program. Because of AB 209, which prohibits government agencies’ race- and sex-based contracting programs, a lawsuit against the HRC’s Minority/Women/Local Business Enterprise ("MWLBE") program was filed, and the Court ruled that the program was unconstitutional. Because of this, the program was halted and became the DBE. This means that businesses under a certain dollar threshold of profit can qualify for the same bid discounts that MWLBE businesses qualify for. Some City officials and others feel that because the DBE is a small business program, it should be relocated to the Office of Contract Administration ("OCA") or allow City departments to do their own contract compliance. If this happens, Women and Minority businesses would suffer; HRC staff has the expertise, experience, passion and commitment to ensure that they would still have a chance at being awarded contracts. He added the Equal Benefits program is in danger of being relocated to OCA as well. If the programs are moved to OCA, job positions may be eliminated from the HRC which would also affect the LGBT & HIV Division. He hopes that the Board of Supervisors will pass an ordinance to save the Commission’s programs. Mr. Brinkin will provide talking points that will be given to Committee members to provide input in helping save the HRC’s contract programs.

Mr. Brinkin reported that he had met with Martin Meeker, formerly with the LGBT History Project who currently works at U.C. Berkeley’s Oral History Program. Mr. Meeker has started chronicling the history of the HRC and wants to create a report that may turn into a book. He is starting with the LGBT piece because he is writing a paper in April. Mr. Meeker is teaching a course on how cities can help promulgate civil rights and the HRC will be the centerpiece.

9. Old/New Business:

No Old/New Business was discussed.

10. Announcements:

Ms. Thomas announced that Youth Gender Project hosts a monthly open mike for trans youth the third Friday of each month. The next event will take place this Friday, January 21, at the 3 Dollar Bill Café at the LGBT Center.

Ben Lunine announced that he’s in his last semester of law school at New College and his last school project is looking for transgender clients who are seeking to legally change their name and/or gender free of charge. Any interested individuals can contact him at

Commissioner Norman announced that a swearing in of new or reappointed commissioners (herself included) will take place this Friday, January 21, at City Hall in the Mayor’s Office, at 5:00 p.m. Committee members are invited to attend.

Commissioner Chung announced that the API Wellness Center, Trikone, and the Interfaith Counsel are sponsoring a vigil for the tsunami disaster on Tuesday, February 1, from 5:30 – 6:30 in front of City Hall (Polk Street side).

  1. Adjournment:

The meeting was adjourned at 7:34 p.m.