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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the March 18, 2003 Meeting

Committee Members Present: Commissioner Martha Knutzen, Commissioner Theresa Sparks, Jason Alley, Virginia Benavidez, Sally Buchmann, Melchor Bustamante aka Mara Montenegro, James DeVinny, Julie Frank, Jordy Jones, Danny Kirchoff, Bill Kirkpatrick, Nancy Lawlor, Johnnie Pratt, Aleem Raja, Jorge Romero-Lozano, Lisa Scheff, Stephen Schwichow, Morningstar Vancil, Lauren Williams.

Committee Members Absent: Kirsten Boyd (excused), Chris Caldeira, Chris Carnes (excused), Scott Campbell (excused), Jay Dwyer (excused), Ted Guggenheim (excused), Yoseñio Lewis (excused).

Staff Present: Larry Brinkin, Ellise Nicholson.

Guests Present: Robert Haaland

1. Call to Order and Roll Call:

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

2. Welcome and Introductions

Commissioners Knutzen and Sparks introduced themselves, welcomed the new members, and asked each member to introduce himself or herself.

3. Introduction of Commission Chair Malcolm Heinicke

Commissioner Sparks introduced Commission Chair Malcolm Heinicke. Commissioner Heinicke welcomed new members and commended them on their outstanding qualifications. He stated that should any Committee members have questions about the Commission or anything else they would like to discuss with him, his door is always open. He stated that he is also available and accessible to members by phone or email. He stated that although the focus of the other four HRC Committees is strictly on San Francisco issues, the LGBTAC is the one exception. He stated that this Committee is a beacon for the country, which is both a luxury and a responsibility. He asked members to keep in mind that bettering the San Francisco community is important, but members should also think proactively about how the Committee can be a beacon to the world. Commissioner Heinicke added that he serves on the Executive Board of the United Council of Human Services, is an attorney, and has worked on political campaigns. His two pet projects for the Commission are to take Commission meetings out of City Hall on occasion to communities that might not know about the Commission or be able to get to City Hall. He also is working on revising the information sheet the City gives to couples when they register as domestic partners.

4. Approval of Minutes of February 18, 2003:

Johnnie Pratt was trapped in D.C. and thus missed last month's meeting. The minutes should be amended to denote that Johnnie's absence was excused. The next to the last line on page three should be amended to clarify what is meant by "gym experiences." Stephen Schwichow moved to approve the minutes as amended. Jason Alley seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

5. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda:


6. Approval of Recommendation to Commission That It Send a Letter to the San Francisco Police Department Encouraging the Designation of a Liaison to Political Demonstrations:

Robert Haaland, President of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club (The Club), stated that the LGBT group "Gay Shame" came to talk to The Club about the problems that they experienced with the San Francisco police during their protest at the LGBT Community Center. Mr. Haaland stated that hearing them, it became clear that had there been a liaison from the police department there to de-escalate the situation, things might have gone differently. If the SFPD could send a liaison to protests to talk with protesters, violence might be avoided. Mr. Haaland is asking that the HRC and the Board of Supervisors reach out to the SFPD to request that the SFPD send such a liaison to protests. Commissioner Sparks asked if this letter is under consideration by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Haaland stated that it is unclear whether someone is specifically acting on this as of yet. Members discussed and agreed upon the benefits of having a liaison to protestors. James DeVinney asked that the tone of the letter be changed slightly so as to avoid telling the SFPD how to do their job but rather to encourage them to participate in dialogue. Other minor stylistic changes were suggested and will be incorporated into the letter. Commission Chair Heinicke stated that sending the letter is a great idea, but it may also be helpful to set up a meeting with the SFPD to discuss details. Chair Heinicke further suggested inviting representatives from the SFPD to an LGBTAC meeting. Commissioner Sparks noted that this would fall within HRC's charter to handle intergroup tensions. She suggested that the letter include an invitation to the SFPD to have them come to a meeting of the LGBTAC. Members agreed that it would be great to have a follow-up dialogue to the letter. Danny Kirchoff noted that transgender people face a whole added level of violence and discrimination by police and thus their right to protest is curtailed. Commissioner Sparks stated that there is currently an SFPD /HRC joint task force that just completed its work developing protocols on this exact issue. These protocols should be going forward in the next month or so. Commissioner Knutzen also suggested that we could offer the services of HRC staff in their role as resources/mediators. Commissioner Sparks made a motion to approve the letter with the suggested additions and changes. Stephen Schwichow seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

7. Approval of Report on Public Hearing on Aging in the LGBT Communities:

Larry Brinkin stated that the draft report was included in members' packets, and also passed out a draft that included more recent changes. Commissioner Knutzen asked that members turn in grammatical changes rather than going over them in this meeting. Mr. Brinkin reviewed with members the changes made since the last draft was sent. Mr. Brinkin is hopeful that this report will go to Commissioners for final approval, and then to the Commission on Aging and Adult Services. Members complimented the report, and some structural and stylistic changes were suggested. Commissioner Sparks made a motion to recommend the report for the Commission's approval. Virginia Benavidez seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brinkin thanked task force members for all of their hard work on the report.

8. Report from Gender Identity Revisions Task Force:

Larry Brinkin reported that a draft revision of the Guidelines was produced and sent to Deputy City Attorney Cathy Barnes. Ms. Barnes' intern is researching some of the legal issues posed by the revisions. The task force will not bring a draft to the Committee until hearing back from Ms. Barnes and making any necessary changes.

9. Retreat Planning:

Commissioner Sparks stated that this year's retreat will take place on Saturday, May 3, 2003 at San Francisco City College auditorium, 33 Gough Street. Members should arrive at 8:30 a.m., and can expect to leave by 5:00 p.m. Commissioner Sparks asked for volunteers for the planning committee, which will meet once or twice prior to the retreat. Mara Montenegro, Sally Buchmann, and James DeVinney volunteered. Larry Brinkin stated that he will ask members who are absent about their interest in the planning committee and will get back to everyone once Commissioner Knutzen makes the assignments. If any members have suggestions for icebreakers, agenda items, etc., please tell Mr. Brinkin.

10. Discussion of 2003 Pride Day Activities:

Commissioner Sparks reported that the HRC has no budget to do a booth at Pride this year, since booths cost about $200. Jordy Jones said he would check into whether the HRC could get a lower price. Commissioner Sparks added that if any members belong to an organization that might like to do a joint booth with the HRC, we should look into that option. Larry Brinkin added that another option is to march in the parade instead of having a booth. Danny Kirchoff stated that the problem with marching is that a lot of members have to march with their work or other organizations. James DeVinney stated that it depends on the purpose of the booth, e.g. whether or not we will be collecting signatures supporting or opposing bills, etc. Commissioner Sparks stated that there are a few bills pending in the California Legislature for which we could collect signatures, including a gender identity bill, a domestic partner bill, and a bill regarding the Patriot Act. A straw poll was conducted, with 12 members wanting a booth and 3 preferring to march. It was agreed that if we can afford to have a booth, we will.

11. Commissioners' Report:

Commissioner Knutzen reported that the Commission presented the Harry Hay resolution to his long time partner, John Burnside. The Commission also passed a resolution honoring the life of Mary Dunlap, which likely will be presented to her partner, Maureen Mason. Commissioner Knutzen stated that the environmental racism workshops are moving ahead, and they are currently in the process of setting a timetable for the workshops. She stated that the workshops would deal with issues such as health, industrial dumping, the naval plant, etc. She will keep members abreast of when the workshops will be conducted. Commissioner Sparks added that they are looking not just at the issue of environmental racism, but are broadening the focus to environmental justice, which includes a focus on economic issues. The Commission will produce a report, findings, and recommendations out of the workshops. A great deal of the Commission's resources and focus is on this issue. Commissioner Knutzen stated that the Commission passed recommendations to extend the M/W/BE legislation. A disparity study is in the works. The LGBTH unit provided a report on immigration and asylum issues facing the LGBT community. This report detailed Attorney General John Ashcroft's proposed change that only persecution by state-actors will qualify a person for asylum. This issue will be coming to the LGBTAC in the near future. Further, it was reported that all persons currently seeking asylum from Iraq are being put into detention for "security" reasons.

12. Staff Report:

Larry Brinkin reported that he and Cynthia Goldstein attended the Ninth Circuit hearing in the S.D. Meyers Equal Benefits case. Mr. Brinkin further reported that two summer interns would be joining the LGBTH division on June 2, 2003. One is from New College and the other is from USF. Cynthia Goldstein will be testifying in front of the California Assembly Judiciary Committee regarding the pending statewide equal benefits law, AB17, on April 1, 2003. Mr. Brinkin and Ms. Goldstein attended the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) dinner last week. A new Commissioner was just appointed. He is a Palestinian-American man named Khaldoun Baghdadi. Mr. Baghdadi is a board member of Intergroup Clearinghouse, a plaintiff's attorney, and is active in Arab American organizations.

13. Old/New Business:


14. Announcements:

Commissioner Sparks announced the arrival of Director Harmon's new baby, Patrick. Johnny Pratt stated that there is a hate crime trial on April 3, 2003, and people are encouraged to attend to support the victims, and are asked to wear red. Johnnie Pratt added that he is currently looking for a job. Larry Brinkin noted that the last day to cast your vote for Pride Grand Marshall is March 31, 2003.

15. Adjournment:

Commissioner Sparks made a motion to adjourn. Stephen Schwichow seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 p.m.