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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee
Minutes of the October 15, 2002 Meeting

Committee Members Present: Commissioner Martha Knutzen, Commissioner Theresa Sparks, Jason Alley, Virginia Benavidez, Kirsten Boyd, Sally Buchmann, Melchor Bustamante, Chris Caldeira, Scott Campbell, Chris Carnes, James DeVinny, Julie Frank, Jordy Jones, Danny Kirchoff, Nancy Lawlor, Yoseñio Lewis, Kristine Oreskovich, Johnnie Pratt, Jorge Romero-Lozano, Stephen Schwichow, Morningstar Vancil.

Committee Members Absent: Jay Dwyer, Ted Guggenheim (excused), Lisa Scheff (excused).

Staff Present: Larry Brinkin, Ellise Nicholson, Domenic Viterbo, Jodie Marksamer (intern).

Guests Present: Toni Broaddus, Julia Favre, Marbella ____, Barry Ragder, Charlie Spiegel.

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. Approval of Minutes of September 24, 2002:

Jordy Jones moved to approve the minutes as amended. Scott Campell seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

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

4. Panel on Family Issues (Including Immigration):

James DeVinny introduced the panel, explaining that it would cover LGBT family issues on the state and national levels. Kirsten Boyd began the panel with a legislative update on state law. She explained the importance of LGBT couples registering as domestic partners with both the city and the state. The two systems are not yet linked, she explained, such that if couples fail to register with either system, they will not receive the respective benefits. She went on to state that prior to 1996, marriage laws were within the purview of the state. However, in 1996, President Clinton signed DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act), which gave the federal government legal authority over federal laws and policies regarding marriage. This law has made it more difficult for LGBT people to gain access to marriage rights. In 1999, Assembly Member Carol Migden wrote Assembly Bill 26 authorizing a statewide domestic partner registry, which went into effect January 1, 2000. Migden then authored AB25, signed by Governor Davis, which went into effect January 1, 2002. This law grants eleven rights to domestic partners, including the right to sue for wrongful death of a domestic partner, the right to adopt, the right to unemployment insurance, and the right to sick leave to care for a domestic partner or domestic partner's immediate family, among other rights. This year, Assembly member Fred Keeley introduced AB2216. This bill, which was also signed by the governor, provides inheritance rights to domestic partners of those who die without a will. Other domestic partner bills introduced this year were either vetoed or never passed, and it is expected that most all of them will be reintroduced next year, including the statewide equal benefits ordinance, AB1080. Ms. Boyd suggested that AB1080 is a good way for the LGBTAC to get involved in this discussion next year. She also discussed Assembly Bill 2651, which would target the LGBT community for foster parenting rights. Governor Davis vetoed the bill this year, but it will be up on the front lines for next year. Assembly member Paul Korets from West Hollywood is planning to reintroduce Assembly Bill 1338 next year, which is a civil unions bill. Ms. Boyd suggests that this Committee should continue doing exactly what we have been doing, such as signature gathering at Pride, and watch these upcoming bills. Commissioner Sparks asked about the status of various transgender rights bills. Ms. Boyd stated that she would find out the status of those bills. Member Kristine Oreskovich asked about the distinction between domestic partnership and civil union. Ms. Boyd explained that AB25 confers only eleven rights. Civil union would offer access to over 900 state law rights and responsibilities pertaining to marriage. Sally Buchmann noted that civil unions might be more appropriate for heterosexual transgender relationships under state law because of the state domestic partnership law's limit on opposite sex partnerships.

Charlie Spiegel, the Executive Director of Our Family Coalition, noted that LGBTAC member Yoseñio Lewis is one of the founders of his organization. He noted that Our Family Coalition conducts domestic partner registrations twice a week at the LGBT Community Center, Wednesdays at lunch and Saturday nights. No one is turned away for lack of money, and they have registered over 250 couples. Another function of the agency is to advocate for domestic partner rights. Mr. Spiegel was excited that the only compromise in passing AB25 was inheritance rights (which have since passed in another bill), but adoption rights remained in AB25. This, he stated, was a stunning victory. Further, last week the San Francisco City Assessor stated that San Francisco would no longer do reassessments when one domestic partner dies. These are exciting changes, which give people a reason to register as domestic partners with both the city and the state. Mr. Spiegel also stated that foster care is an obvious problem, and that the bill prohibiting discrimination in the foster care system and allowing counties to provide sensitivity training and outreach with respect to LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS was not signed. Our Family Coalition is trying to focus attention on this issue for next year. The good news is that the Coalition, in collaboration with other organizations, recently received funding from the City.

Barry Ragder spoke next. He is affiliated with the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force (LGIRTF). He explained that none of these wonderful things happening on city and state level help his particular situation. His partner is Argentinean, and is currently locked out of this country. He was here last year on a visa waiver that since has been rescinded. Mr. Ragder stated that after what he has gone through, he no longer feels like a citizen of this country. He has no grounds on which to be with his partner. To explain the disparate treatment LGBT couples face, he told of a pair of sisters, U.S. citizens, who live in Israel and last year wanted to return to the United States. One sister is married to an Israeli man. She simply decided to return with her husband and did so. The other sister is in a partnership with an Israeli woman. She went to the U.S. consulate to discuss her situation, and now she is locked out of the country. Mr. Ragder stated that the consulate looks for information that people are gay or lesbian and then uses that information to bar people. For example, one way to gain entry is to get a student visa. If a person applying for this visa is a male and says he is going to the country to be with his boyfriend, he will get permanently marked and barred from entry. This is in part because the consulate looks for "overstay risks." However, this logic tends to be used more against gay petitioners. There is little awareness about this issue, even within our own community. People often ask, "Can't you go to Vermont?" The answer is no, Vermont only provides state rights. Immigration is a federal issue. The Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA) is currently in the House of Representatives. It has 103 co-sponsors (all but two are Democrats). With the assistance of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, they are currently looking for the appropriate Senator to introduce a companion bill in the Senate. Mr. Ragder stated that he would like this Committee to pass a resolution supporting the Permanent Partners Immigration Act. Staff member Larry Brinkin stated that the Commission already wrote a letter to the Congress member who introduced PPIA. We also called this member's office and they agreed to distribute the letter to all Congress members. Mr. Ragder requested a copy of the letter.

Toni Broaddus from Californians for Civil Marriage (CCM) stated that all of these problems make it clear why we need marriage. She stated that it is quite likely that California will have civil unions in the next year or two, but we need marriage so that we can move freely throughout the country and so we can gain access to the 1000 plus rights and responsibilities associated with marriage. She feels that civil unions are morally wrong because they fall under a separate but equal philosophy. According to Ms. Broaddus, the marriage movement is picking up steam. When CCM was founded one year ago, they considered three ways to pass the marriage law: 1) legislature, 2) initiative, 3) lawsuit overturning laws barring gay marriage. They realized that even if they went with options 1 or 3 (legislature or lawsuit), they would still need public support or there will be a ballot initiative to overturn the law. Therefore, they decided that right now education is most important. They formed a statewide coalition of LGBT organizations called California Freedom to Marry Coalition (CFMA) that are coming together to start talking about how to make this happen. A statewide poll this summer targeting voters showed that there was not majority support, though 45% support LGBT marriage and this number is growing. Less than 50% of voters oppose it (49% oppose). Studies also show that once people support LGBT rights, they don't go back. The study also found that there is already support for civil union - with 55% supporting. This means that the other side no longer has a majority. Members of CFMA discuss and debate strategy. Ms. Broaddus feels that we should not ask for civil unions, though others in the coalition feel otherwise. She stated that we would see a lot more activity around this issue in California. We need to make stronger statements within our communities to our leaders that we'll take any compromises, but we're going for marriage. We want equality. On a national level, Evan Woofson, a former Lambda attorney, helped form the Freedom to Marry Collaborative. They are raising funds to start a national organization to coordinate statewide efforts. She stated that what this Committee can do is get a resolution passed in San Francisco urging the state legislature to pass an LGBT marriage law. Commissioner Knutzen stated that this was one of the recommendations the Committee made in the Economic Empowerment Report. She stated that we have already urged the board to pass this legislation, and that Ms. Broaddus could use the recommendation in the report. Commissioner Knutzen further stated that she is interested in having a hearing or public forum to talk about marriage and issues that LGBT families face and to get the press there. Yoseñio Lewis asked Ms. Broaddus if their literature ever defines what same sex means. She stated no. Mr. Lewis discussed the issue of transgender marriage and outcomes of court cases such as the Littleton case, and asked if CCM had done any outreach to transgender people whose heterosexual marriages were invalidated. Ms. Broaddus stated that while they have transgender members, they have not done any outreach. Mr. Lewis added that as a transsexual, he feels that marriage is important, but that transgender marriages can still be invalidated even if we have civil unions. Ms. Broaddus stated that what she is trying to do is to remove the gender requirement from marriage. Mr. Spiegel stated that what his organization hears most about is immigration and transgender issues, and that we need to keep these at the forefront of the discussion.

5. Planning of November Panel on Immigration & Asylum Issues:

Commissioner Sparks distributed the list of people who volunteered for this and future panels. Larry Brinkin asked that those involved line up speakers as early as possible so that staff can send confirming letters, let panelists know with whom they will be speaking, how long to speak, when and where the panel will be, etc. He said that usually the planning group only needs to meet once or twice. Sally Buchmann asked to be taken off the Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI) panel. Kristine Oreskovich wants off the immigration panel. Virginia Benavidez stated that she would like to join the group planning the immigration panel. Stephen Schwichow would like to be off of that panel but would like to help plan the RPI panel. Kirsten Boyd would like to join the public school panel planners.

6. Discussion and Debriefing of Public Hearing on Aging in the LGBT Community:

Commissioner Sparks stated that the hearing was wonderful, and that it was the only one that she's aware of where audience members actually stayed to hear the last speaker. She added that it was well organized, and stated that it was broadcast last night at 6:30, and will be broadcast 2 more times. Larry Brinkin added that he would let members know when it will be televised next. Commissioner Knutzen stated that she is very proud. She noted that all of the speakers were well prepared, and that she heard that a lot of networking was going on. She said it was great to have the Commission on Aging there, to make connection with them, for them to hear this testimony. She said that because of this hearing, they would become our advocates on these issues, as will the Director. Commissioner Sparks asked about the process from here. Larry Brinkin stated that for the first time, we did not hire a consultant to write the report. Rather, staff will take the lead in writing it, with the help of the task force. Mr. Brinkin stated that we will look for people to write an essay or two, and staff will summarize all written testimony. He added that we have a written transcript, and will work with the task force on findings and recommendations. Stephen Schwichow said that everyone who left the hearing was enthusiastic and felt like they'd been heard. He commended staff on the great job. Larry Brinkin stated that he was grateful to staff, especially intern Jodie Marksamer, who was magnificent as his right hand person. Commissioner Knutzen stated that some of the testimony was information that was never heard by a public body before. Also, the fact that we heard some points over and over again is very important. These are historic moments, some precious. Scott Campbell stated that he sat through the entire hearing, and that he thinks this is one of the most significant issues facing the community. It was such a connection to the whole community - spirit and camaraderie. He was disappointed that there were not more Commissioners in attendance, and appreciates that Commissioners Sparks and Knutzen stayed.
7. Report from Gender Identity Guidelines Revisions Task Force:

Nancy Lawlor reported that David Strachan from the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) came to the last meeting to talk about the gender identity guidelines and how to best incorporate intersex concerns into those guidelines. The task force also began a discussion of gender neutral bathrooms. Jodie Marksamer worked through the guidelines to change some wording to make the guidelines sound more forceful, and picked apart the language to make sure it is clear and precise. The task force is now going though this language sentence by sentence, and hopes to have a draft ready for the next LGBTAC meeting. Larry Brinkin suggested that it be ready in time for packets so that members can look it over before discussing it at the meeting.

8. Commissioners' Report:

The last Commission Meeting consisted entirely of the LGBT Senior Issues Public Hearing discussed above. Therefore, no additional report was given.

9. Staff Report:

Larry Brinkin reported that Cynthia Goldstein, division co-manager, will present the 5-year report of the Equal Benefits Ordinance at the November 14, 2002 Commission Meeting. He added that we would also invite her to present this report to this Committee. Mr. Brinkin stated that we are in the process of making some amendments to Article 33 clarifying protections for independent contractors and temporary employees as well as clarifying the prohibition on business to business discrimination. These clarifications are in Mark Leno's bill, and he does not anticipate a problem getting them passed. Mr. Brinkin stated that staff member Ellise Nicholson participated in the Swim-a-Mile Fundraiser for the Women's Cancer Resource Center. Staff member Domenic Viterbo stated that he is currently training for the AIDS Marathon next May in Vancouver. Mr. Brinkin is working on the complaint-handling manual, which will provide staff in all divisions with consistent procedures for complaint handling. Mr. Brinkin has been working on this with the help of a consultant, and expects to present it to Commissioners next month.

10. Old/New Business:


11. Announcements:

Chris Caldeira stated that she is now working for a publishing company which has a new human sexuality book coming out next year and are looking to produce a CD-ROM with a video of stuff happening in the transgender and intersex communities. If anyone knows of videos or is interested in being interviewed, please talk to her. Yoseñio Lewis expressed his appreciation for how much improved the Commission is since the new director, Virginia Harmon, took over, and wished to congratulate her on her pregnancy. Melchor Bustamante stated that he needs help from the Committee. He stated that he was framed, ambushed as a City employee. He is afraid that if he speaks out, he may lose his health benefits too. He stated that this Committee should have more authority to investigate discrimination within City departments. Sally Buchmann stated that he could file an EEO complaint, or could go through the union. She stated that from a union perspective, they could have shop stewards better trained to understand transgender issues. Commissioner Sparks stated that the Commission does not have jurisdiction nor does this Committee. She added that Chris Daley and Dylan Vade are working at the newly formed Transgender Law Center, and that she could send their contact information. Johnnie Pratt announced that he got married on October 5, 2002.

12. Adjournment:

Yoseñio Lewis stated that he would like to adjourn in honor of Alexander John Goodrum, a transgender and people of color activist who died on September 29, 2002. The meeting was adjourned in Mr. Goodrum's honor