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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee
Minutes of the November 19, 2002 Meeting

Committee Members Present: Commissioner Martha Knutzen, Commissioner Theresa Sparks, Jason Alley, Virginia Benavidez, Sally Buchmann, Mara Marbella, Chris Caldeira, Scott Campbell, James DeVinny, Jay Dwyer, Danny Kirchoff, Nancy Lawlor, Johnnie Pratt, Lisa Scheff, Stephen Schwichow, Morningstar Vancil.

Committee Members Absent: Kirsten Boyd (excused), Chris Carnes (excused), Julie Frank (excused), Ted Guggenheim (excused), Jordy Jones (excused), Yoseñio Lewis (excused), Kristine Oreskovich (excused), Jorge Romero-Lozano (excused).

Staff Present: Larry Brinkin, Ellise Nicholson, Domenic Viterbo.

Guests Present:. Adam Benditsky, Tracy Pesoa Dos Santo, Georgette Freeman, Elizabeth Kristen.

1. Call to Order and Roll Call:

Commissioner Knutzen called the meeting to order at 5:37 p.m. Mr. Brinkin called the roll.

2. Approval of Minutes of October 15, 2002:

Jason Alley moved to approve the minutes as written. Nancy Lawlor seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Scott Campbell noted that the September 2002 minutes should be amended to reflect that he was present.

3. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda: None.

4. Panel on Immigration & Asylum:

Morningstar Vancil introduced the speaker, Vera ____ from Brazil. Ms. Vancil stated that Ms. _______ has been in this country six and one half years. Ms. Vancil read a letter from Ms. _____'s employer, Elizabeth MacKinzie. The letter stated that Ms. _____'s daughter is in danger in Brazil. She had a baby and is in danger of being sold into slavery. She has been running from a man, and if found, will face death. Ms. _______ needs help getting her daughter to this country. Commissioner Knutzen requested more background and context. Virginia Benavidez translated for Ms. ____. Ms. ______ stated that she was invited through Ms. Vancil, who recommended that she tell her story as a person struggling to get herself and her family into this country. Ms. _____ stated that she couldn't afford a lawyer and has had no success despite repeated efforts to talk to the INS. She has a degree in Brazil, but can't use it here and has been forced to do housecleaning as a result. She is willing to go to school, but can't get any kind of help despite great effort. She is distressed to the point of depression. She sought help for her depression at SF General, and now she has medical bills that she cannot pay. She is worried that this debt will prevent her citizenship. Larry Brinkin stated that the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights has a great immigration project, and will help with individual cases. Mr. Brinkin also noted that the letter from her employer is addressed to Dusty Araujo at IGLHRC, not the Human Rights Commission. Mr. Brinkin agreed to forward the letter to Mr. Araujo. Sally Buchmann stated that she works at SF General, and explained that even though Ms. ____ was billed for the services, she only need pay what she can. Mr. Brinkin agreed to make a list of referrals for Ms. _________ by the end of the week. Jason Alley proposed that because issues of immigration and asylum are huge, we should continue to have an ongoing conversation on this topic. Mr. Alley also suggested that we break this panel in two halves, and have the second in January since many panelists were not able to make it today. Panel planners agreed to talk after the meeting is adjourned. Martha Knutzen thanked Ms. ____ for coming and told her that we would help her get assistance from community organizations. Ms. Vancil stated that as an immigrant who was granted political asylum, she can relate to Ms. ______'s struggle. She too has a girlfriend and a little girl and couldn't get them here because she could not marry her girlfriend. Ms. Vancil also added that it is her privilege and honor to serve here on this committee.

5. Discussion of Postponement of Panel on the Racial Privacy Initiative:

Larry Brinkin stated that the panel of LGBT issues in public schools panel is scheduled for January and the Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI) panel for February. He recommended postponing the RPI panel because the initiative itself was postponed until the March 2004 ballot. He stated that the Committee can discuss an RPI panel at the next retreat. He then suggested changing the public schools panel to February. Chris Caldeira, Ted Guggenheim, Nancy Lawlor, and Kirsten Boyd are putting together the public schools panel. Staff will send them an email reminder.

6. Report of the Senior Issues Task Force:

Larry Brinkin reported that the task force did not meet in November because the purpose of the meeting was to go over testimony, findings and recommendations, but those aren't done yet. Mr. Brinkin noted that all LGBTAC members should get their findings and recommendations to him as soon as possible. Since the Commission is not hiring a consultant to write the report, Mr. Brinkin will be writing the report himself, with help from staff. He is hoping that the report will be ready for the January 2003 meeting, but in any case no later that February 2003. The next task force meeting will be Tuesday, December 3, 2002 at 5:30p.m. Mr. Brinkin will send a reminder.
7. Report from Gender Identity Guidelines Revisions Task Force:

Danny Kirchoff reported that the task force had a dynamic meeting and great discussion, and realized the need to rework some things. Therefore, the timeline to bring the draft to the full committee has been extended. He stated that the task force would give an update over the next couple months. A member of the public asked if a schedule has been set for retrofit and cost analysis. Mr. Kirchoff stated that no committee has been formed yet concerning that issue. That same member of the public asked to speak to Marcus Arana about building codes and related issues. Mr. Brinkin supplied Mr. Arana's contact information.

8. Discussion of Recruitment of New Members:

Larry Brinkin referred members to the draft timeline. He stressed the importance of recruitment, particularly as it pertains to diversity, and asked members to get the word out to their friends and colleagues. Stephen Schwichow noted that one of the panelists from the Intersex panel asked to be contacted about recruitment. Mr. Brinkin then asked members whether or not they intended to continue for another term. Eight members were certain of their intent to continue, and no one indicated that they did not intend to continue. One member expressed uncertainty. Commissioner Knutzen stated that she in no way wants to discourage anyone from continuing. She stated that it is great that the Committee has so many new members. Mr. Brinkin stated that we should establish a recruitment committee, and that committee should be as diverse as possible, and should include at least one Commissioner plus staff. Mr. Brinkin told members if they are interested, they can let one of the Commissioners know and they will be considered for appointment. Morningstar Vancil, Jason Alley, Stephen Schwichow, and Nancy Lawlor all expressed interest.

9. Commissioners' Report:

Commissioner Knutzen reported that there was one Commission meeting since the LGBTAC last met. She reported that at that meeting, the Commission heard an excellent Equal Benefits Five Year Report by staff member Cynthia Goldstein. By now, the Equal Benefits Ordinance is really institutionalized, and we can see the impact of it on the nation and culture. Commissioner Knutzen reported that more and more companies are stepping to the plate and doing the right thing. She added that most of the LGBT division staff was present for the report, which was good for the Commissioners to see. It's a real success story, said Commission Knutzen, not only for the Human Rights Commission, but also for the City. She added that the Commission has recently been addressing concerns brought to the Commission by members of the African-American community. Staff members have been assigned to assure that the African-American community is aware and connected with how their community can be involved in upcoming projects and jobs in the area. Commissioner Sparks reported that she and Commissioner Ward are working together to plan a hearing on environmental racism. They have conducted initial research based on public comments, and have found some disturbing information about rates of breast and colon cancer and asthma. The hearing will likely take place in January or February of 2003. Commissioner Knutzen reported that in the coming year, a lot of the work of the Commission and Director Harmon will be oriented toward reauthorization of the M/WBE ordinance. Every five years, the Commission must do a statistical diversity study on the need for this ordinance, including conducting hearings gathering anecdotal information. When the ordinance has been challenged in court under Proposition 209, it has always withstood the challenge because the Commission can prove that there is discrimination and it is remedying it through the program. Continuation of that work will be underway this year. Commissioner Sparks reported that several people who have been convicted of misdemeanors or felonies have come to the Commission in search of assistance in integrating back into society. Staff member Zula Jones has undertaken a project and is writing pamphlets on this topic. Finally, the Commission passed a resolution to honor the life of gay activist Harry Hay.

10. Staff Report:

Larry Brinkin reported on bad news concerning the budget. He stated that the Mayor's finance office has asked all departments to immediately cut 3% of the budget this year. This will be quite a challenge for the HRC, as it is already a bare bones department. It's complicated by the fact that half of the staff is funded by other departments' work orders. Those departments are going to face the same cuts and will want to cut HRC work orders. The Commission will try to avoid this and to avoid layoffs. It's going to be tough and might get even tougher, Mr. Brinkin reported. Mr. Brinkin reported that the division's fall intern, Jody Marksamer, has completed his tenure with the HRC. He was fabulous and we're really going to miss him. Mr. Brinkin stated that he and Cynthia Goldstein are taking a managing organizational change course. Mr. Brinkin recently participated in a panel at the Arc of Refuge concerning transgender people and the law. Mr. Brinkin reported that the panel, which included Deputy District Attorney Jim Hammer, went well and was well attended. The transgender/police department task force is nearing completion of its work. The Commission is also working with the National Lawyers' Guild concerning transgender protocols in the Sheriff's Department. A report has been completed and a meeting with Chief Deputy Dempsey was held. Mr. Brinkin will be on vacation from December 13 thru January 2. There will be no December meeting. Ellise Nicholson, Marcus Arana, Danny Kirchoff, and Yoseñio Lewis all attended the NGLTF Creating Change conference from November 6-10 in Portland, OR. Ms. Nicholson stated that the conference theme was "Building an Anti-Racist Movement." She summarized the excellent keynote speech given by Carmen Vasquez and Tim Sweeney. Ms. Nicholson stated that there was some tension at the conference regarding NGLTF's refusal to take an anti-war stance. Danny Kirchoff reported that the event was exciting and inspiring, and it was a good first step to see dialogue around racism in our community. Mr. Brinkin also reported that Ellise Nicholson, Marcus Arana, and Jody Marksamer conducted a training recently at the SF Police Academy. Mr. Arana also conducted a training on transgender sensitivity with the SF Pride Committee, as well as one for Interpride (pride committees from around world), and a couple of trainings as settlements of complaints.

11. Old/New Business:


12. Announcements:

Sally Buchmann mentioned that she went to the first ever union leadership training, sponsored by UCLA and Southern California Pride at Work. Torri Osborn, who gave seed money to Pride at Work, was there and was an inspirational speaker. Johnnie Pratt went to Sacramento yesterday for a conference of statewide youth organizations. He reported that LGBT organizations were noticeably absent. Conference organizers told Johnnie Pratt that there is no LGBT youth organization on the state level. Jason Alley noted that the Commission completed an LGBT youth report a few years ago and suggested that the organizers access that information. Commissioner Knutzen noted that this report is on the HRC website. Mr. Brinkin added that the Commission has a lot of copies of the report too, and can send them out. Stephen Schwichow commented on how this situation speaks to the invisibility of LGBT youth. Commissioner Knutzen commented that there is very little LGBT visibility in state government generally. James DeVinny stated that he and his friends have formed a group that is lobbying to change the date of LGBT Pride in 2004 to July 4th. It's in an exploratory phase, and the group is now meeting with organizations that would be impacted by the change. Johnnie Pratt asked about the significance of the date change. Mr. DeVinny stated that before Stonewall, people started organizing pickets, the first of which was on the 4th of July and was called the "annual reminder." It was a reminder that when we're celebrating the freedoms we have in the U.S., it is important to remind people that not all of us have these freedoms. Commissioner Sparks reported that tomorrow night there will be a vigil and march in memoriam of transgender people who died over the last several years. She pointed out that the timing is particularly poignant because of the recent death of Gwen Araujo. It was through this committee that the transgender hate crimes bill, which is being used in the Araujo case, was pushed through about 3 years ago. The march will start in Harvey Milk Plaza (Castro and Market Streets) and head to the LGBT Community Center. It was noted that Commissioner Sparks and Gwen Smith started this march and vigil in San Francisco four years ago, and it now occurs nationwide. Scott Campbell announced that next Monday is the Castro's tree lighting ceremony.


Commissioner Knutzen moved to adjourn in honor of Harry Hay. The meeting was adjourned in his honor at 7:32 p.m.