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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the October 21, 2003 Meeting

Committee Members Present: Commissioner Martha Knutzen, Commissioner Theresa Sparks, Jason Alley, Sally Buchmann, Chris Caldeira, Scott Campbell, Jay Dwyer, Julie Frank, Ted Guggenheim, Danny Kirchoff, Bill Kirkpatrick, Nancy Lawlor, Aleem Raja, Jorge Romero-Lozano, Lisa Scheff, Lauren Williams.

Committee Members Absent: Melchor Bustamante (excused), Johnnie Pratt, Stephen Schwichow (excused), Morningstar Vancil (excused),

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

Guests Present: Thom Lynch, Ren Phoenix

  1. Call to Order and Roll Call:

    Commissioner Knutzen called the meeting to order at 5:38 p.m. Larry Brinkin called the roll.

  2. Approval of Minutes of September 16, 2003:

    Jason Alley moved to approve the minutes as written. Scott Campbell seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

  3. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda:


  4. Update on LGBT Community Center from Executive Director Thom Lynch:

    Thom Lynch stated that he has been at the LGBT Community Center ("the Center") as Executive Director since June 23, 2003. Before coming to the Center, Mr. Lynch was the Deputy Director for Project Open Hand. Since joining the Center, Mr. Lynch has been busy working to improve the Center, but they still have a lot of challenges. Currently, the Center has more than 8,000 users each months and 200-250 meetings and events per month. However, like Napster, while the Center has a lot of users, it does not have a lot of money coming in.

    Some of the work being done includes expanding programs for queer youth through the Eureka Valley Recreation Center. They are also negotiating with the Mayor’s Office of Community Development (MOCD) to create the first neighborhood LGBT community development program. MOCD has agreed to provide seed funding to start this program, which would create opportunities for starting small businesses in Eureka Valley. The Center will work in conjunction with programs such as SF Works, various banks, venture capitalists, SF EARN, etc. They also are trying to tie youth into the program by providing information on writing resumes, etc. Mr. Lynch is also negotiating with Project Open Hand to provide a senior meals program.

    Mr. Lynch and others at the Center are looking for opportunities. The Center receives about 400 calls each day. As of today, they have only ten staff members, making it difficult for the staff to return everyone’s calls right away. The communities’ expectations around the Center are huge. People think the Center has a lot of money. The hope is to build trust in the community in order to get support and funding. The Center currently receives very little money from the City (about $80,000/year, which pays for the child care program). Further, Mr. Lynch reported that the Center is trying to develop programs that are non-duplicative. At the same time, they must work on a business model that generates some revenue. They are hoping to achieve these goals by partnering with other community organizations. There’s so much potential, and obviously the challenges are tremendous, Mr. Lynch said. He has always been struck by how well our community has built institutions around health and politics. He hopes that we can build institutions around building community.

    Committee member Scott Campbell stated that there have been great expectations and disappointments about the Center. He asked Mr. Lynch about his plans to stabilize the financial future of the Center, and also inquired about the programs being moved between Eureka Valley Recreation Center and the LGBT Community Center.

    Mr. Lynch responded that the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center has a 34 million dollar annual budget and a huge staff. New York has a 7 million dollar annual budget and a staff of 100 people. These centers are totally different than ours. They have programs that have coalesced over long periods of time. We will not be able to duplicate some of the programming of the LA and NY Centers. For example, the major revenue for the LA Center is their pharmacy. Mr. Lynch reported that he is currently trying to evaluate what we can do to generate revenue, and is doing some forecasting. In any case, the SF Center is going to have to rely on some fundraising. Some people thought that the building would be self-sustaining. But even with full room rentals, this is not enough money to run the Center. Mr. Lynch stated that the key is to develop programs that are helpful to the Community. He’s looking for opportunities to team up with other organizations while reducing overhead and administrative costs

    Larry Brinkin asked about the Center’s economic development project and whether there is any plan to include an employment agency or CBO that could furnish workers. Mr. Lynch stated that they currently have a volunteer working to create a job referral/work force development program. They are in the early stages of developing that program, which will be an important part of their economic development project. The best way to deal with transgender unemployment, for example, may well be to help transgender people start their own businesses. Thus, they intend to work on the business creation side as well as the employee side.

    Larry Brinkin asked whether anything was happening with the café and box office. Mr. Lynch informed the Committee that the Center has signed a letter of intent for the café, and is currently in lease negotiations. They’re excited about the concept, which includes tables on the sidewalk and in the lobby. This will create a lot more activity on the first floor.

    Sally Buchmann asked whether the Center was looking into the building next door, which would make a great youth shelter. Ms. Buchmann also mentioned that the roof could use a garden. Mr. Lynch stated that the building next door has a long and varied history of sales and not-sales. A lot of people are interested in that building, and there is talk of making it into a youth building. The Center could end up playing a part in that, and is putting resources into it. Regarding the roof, they are currently negotiating for someone to do the garden for free.

    Julie Frank stated that she works at the AIDS Health Project. She congratulated Mr. Lynch for taking on the position of Executive Director for the Center, and asked what motivated him to jump into it. Mr. Lynch responded that he was at Project Open Hand for 8 years and was ready for a change. Twenty-five years ago Mr. Lynch was a Pentecostal Minister, and so really appreciates a sense of community building. He thought that he had some skills he could offer the Center and will do his best. However, it’s up to the community, not him, to save the center.

    Commissioner Sparks stated that we look forward as a Committee to working with the Center. She stated that she’s thrilled that there’s energy being put into the Center above and beyond the start-up mode. Mr. Lynch said that he’s using the HRC’s Economic Development Report to move forward with developing an economic development plan and is looking forward to working with the Committee on these issues.

  5. Approval of Letter Implementing Senior Issues Report Recommendations (Action Item):

    Larry Brinkin stated that thus far we’ve sent over 200 letters, though we’ve not had a lot of responses to these letters. Some of the responses we have received are included in this month’s packet. We’ve also received some responses by phone. The responses have been good, and a lot of organizations have said that they want to do more outreach to LGBT seniors. Mr. Brinkin reported that he talked to these organizations about methods of conducting such outreach. Mr. Brinkin is debating whether to send follow-up letters to those who haven’t responded. He stated that included in the packet are additional letters for the Committee’s approval. Julie Frank made a motion to approve the letters as written. Ted Guggenheim seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

  6. Gender Identity Task Force Report:

    Lisa Scheff reported that the task force is very close to having draft guidelines ready. They received feedback from the City Attorney and last week ironed out some wrinkles. They will bring the draft to the Committee for its approval next month. Commissioner Sparks stated that it would be great to get this to the Commission before the end of the year.

  7. Activism Task Force Report: Discussion and Approval of Proposed Forum (Action Item):

    Jason Alley referred members to the forum proposal included in this month’s packet. He stated that the goal is to have folks from the community come together to talk about how to share resources, network, and discuss types of effective activism. The format is to have a steering committee that will work out the nuts and bolts logistics of putting this forum together. Commissioner Sparks asked whether the task force has defined what kind of activism will be discussed and which organizations will be involved. Mr. Alley stated that the task force has kept the definition of activism broad – ranging from artistic and cultural to legislative advocacy. Participants would sort themselves out by their interests. Sally Buchmann stated that she feels an incredible splintering of people’s time. She is wondering how all of these groups can coalesce to see who is working on what issues and whether the forum will include such a discussion. Mr. Alley stated that that is central to the guiding question, and that the purpose of the event is to bring people together who might not otherwise be conversing with one another and have a conversation that wouldn’t otherwise take place. We’re looking to serve as facilitators for those conversations. Commissioner Sparks inquired about the final product of the forum. Mr. Alley stated that it would be a pamphlet distilling the conversations that occur at the forum. Mr. Alley added that the goal is to have the forum in the Spring of 2004. Commissioner Sparks asked whether we might put the forum on the agenda for next year’s retreat. Mr. Alley stated that the task force wants time to get the steering committee together and the structure to implement and publicize this forum. He stated that the task force is asking the Committee to approve the proposal, and would like members to submit names of organizations and individuals that they’d like to see on the steering committee. Commissioner Sparks stated that in order for the Commission to approve the forum, they would want to know what organizations are participating. Commissioner Sparks stated that we need a general but specific plan that we could present to the Commissioners. Ren Phoenix stated that one of things the task force has been discussing is to not control the process too much. Commissioner Sparks stated that if the forum is an HRC sanctioned event, by definition the HRC has to assert a certain amount of oversight. Maybe the HRC’s role is to provide this task force to put the ideas together and then pass the forum on to a steering committee. Commissioner Sparks added that at this point the Committee could give a loose approval to continue going in the direction the task force is currently moving. Scott Campbell stated that while he has a lot of respect for what the task force is trying to do, too loose of a structure doesn’t engender people attending the forum. Having names of organizations involved and a sense of what this is going to be about would help. Jason Alley responded that the task force wants to insure that its guiding themes get clearly articulated, and that the method of marketing the forum is important in insuring attendance. The task force is looking at this forum as a community discussion on strategic issues. Larry Brinkin explained that the Commissioners are going to need examples of kinds of things we might be discussing at the conference (e.g. – how to get legislation passed, etc.). Commissioner Sparks added that what is being said is that this is a great start, but there are not enough details for Committee approval. Aleem Raja stated that he appreciates the risks that the Committee is willing to take by even going this far. Commissioner Knutzen stated that she thinks it is good timing for such a forum, and that the theme of it goes along with what Mr. Lynch was saying regarding community building around the Center. She added that we need to facilitate people working together. Commissioner Sparks and Mr. Brinkin will come up with a list of the kinds of items to be included in a detailed proposal to bring to the Committee and the Commission.

  8. Intersex Task Force Report:

    Larry Brinkin reported that the next meeting of this task force is tomorrow night. He stated that he thinks they are starting to work on a resolution to take to the Commissioners regarding Intersex surgeries. Commissioner Sparks stated that the presentation made to the Commission on this issue was very helpful and generated a lot of discussions at the Commission level. Commissioner Knutzen stated that a lot of education needs to happen on this issue. The presentation was a good first step. Several Commissioners want to hear from medical practitioners. Mr. Brinkin stated that one idea under discussion is to have a joint hearing between the HRC and the Health Commission. Commissioner Sparks suggested that Committee members be given the minutes from the September 11, 2003 Commission meeting so that members can understand the concerns of Commissioners. Committee members also requested copies of the Intersex information handout presented at the Commission meeting.

  9. Work Group on Impact of Budget Cuts Report:

Sally Buchmann stated that the Public Employees contract will be opened in February for negotiation on its economic provisions. There could be layoffs. Bill Kirkpatrick stated that he is continuing to monitor for any budget cuts that would affect LGBT services. Things are still in flux, and he hasn’t found any red flags to report. Everything is in limbo right now. Commissioner Sparks suggested that we don’t need a monthly report, we can simply bring up red flags as they come up. Larry Brinkin reported that the HRC has just been asked to come up with another cut for this fiscal year – anywhere from 2 and ½ to 5%.

10. Homeless Queer Youth Task Force Report:

Ted Guggenheim reported that the first task force meeting was attended by Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Patrick Mulcahey, Adam Benditsky, Commissioners Sparks and Knutzen, staff member Larry Brinkin, and three Committee members. Supervisor Dufty is interested in acquiring the building next to the Center for homeless queer youth. Larry Brinkin presented talking points for the meeting and some recommendations were developed. The task force will bring these recommendations to the Wednesday night supper at Most Holy Redeemer Church to talk with the youth and get their input. Commissioner Sparks stated that the task force sees this meeting as a kind of town hall meeting to get a sense of the needs of the queer homeless youth in the City. Supervisor Dufty and Assemblyman Mark Leno are both willing to go. Nancy Lawlor stated that they discussed November 12, 2003 as a potential date to attend the Wednesday supper. Supervisor Dufty is putting together a committee of community leaders to discuss this. We may ask a volunteer from the LGBTAC to be on that committee. Larry Brinkin added that one of the points made at the meeting is that our community doesn’t recognize this issue as a crisis. We want to present this to the community as a crisis and come up with some solutions. Aleem Raja mentioned that LYRIC is always interested in new board members, and they deal with this issue a lot. Anyone interested should contact Executive Director Kar Yin Tham.

  1. Marriage & Family Issues Task Force Report:

    Commissioner Knutzen stated that the task force held an initial planning meeting, and that they want to have an event in February, around Valentine’s Day. The event would be a panel on domestic partner rights, including an analysis of and preparation for Proposition 205. The panel would help people understand what they are getting out of domestic partnership. They are still discussing whether to include transgender rights or whether this issue should be kept separate. Also discussed on the panel would be the issue of new property assessment rights through the Board of Equalization and the Assessor. Commissioner Knutzen has booked the Ceremonial Room at the Center for February 12, 2004. NCLR is interested in collaborating. Ted Guggenheim stated that Our Family Coalition and Marriage Equality California (which is being folded into EQCA) are both happy to co-sponsor. Larry Brinkin added that we still need to get approval of the Commissioners to hold the event.

  2. Commissioners’ Report:

    Commissioner Knutzen stated that they had a wonderful hearing right before the October election on the HRC’s report regarding the impact of the Racial Privacy Initiative on City programs. Each Committee heard the issues, which were then compiled into a written report that was presented orally to the Board of Supervisors’ City Services Committee. This report is a model example of what we can do within our constraints. Commissioner Knutzen stated that she gave the written report out and received a lot of feedback on how useful that report was. The Commission wrote a letter regarding the issue of homeland security at the airport and the recent policy to scrutinize cross-dressers. Aleem Raja stated that this issue got played out in the Muslim and Arab communities, and that it may have been the first time that folks saw connections between the issues of their communities.

  3. Staff Report:

    Larry Brinkin reminded panel planners that next month we’re scheduled to have a panel on breast cancer. Ms. Frank and Commissioner Sparks signed up to help put that on. He further reported that the Commission is going to have its December 10, 2003 meeting in Bayview/Hunter’s Point at 4:30 p.m. at the Southeast Community Center, and all are invited to attend. The Commission has been working on the issue of environmental racism, including a series of workshops. This meeting will be a culmination of that project. The HRC is co-sponsoring a conference with the Government of Germany on combating issues of racism, anti-semitism, homophobia, etc. on November 3, 4, and 5, 2003 at the Rex Hotel. Mr. Brinkin will send a brochure to the Committee when he gets it. There will be a civil service exam for the Contract Compliance Officer II position here at the HRC. Anyone interested in getting on that list should let Mr. Brinkin know and he will forward them the job announcement. The SF Police Department transgender protocols are moving forward and will be heard by the Police Commission next Wednesday October 29, 2003. Mr. Brinkin stated that we generally cancel the December meeting of the LGBT Advisory Committee. No members objected to this cancellation. Regarding AB205, Mr. Brinkin stated that Pete Knight has qualified a ballot measure to start collecting signatures to repeal 205. Mr. Knight also filed suit to enjoin 205 from taking effect on the grounds that it violates state law (specifically, Proposition 22), because it is in effect gay marriage. The San Francisco City Attorney is getting involved in helping defend the law. We are working on it at the HRC as well. Mr. Brinkin will let folks know the date of the hearing on the injunction. Mr. Brinkin added that the HRC received a grant from the Gill Foundation to make public a list of insurance companies across the country that offer equal benefits. We have a consultant on board named Cyril Cuasay to complete this project. Staff member Marcus Arana conducted a transgender training at Prisoner Legal Services and is working with City College regarding transgender discrimination there. In regard to the homeland security letter, we received a call from the head of the Police Services Department at the airport. She is interested in assisting us in assuring that security personnel receive training on transgender issues at the airport. While she doesn’t have oversight of the security gates, she stated that she would recommend to John Martin that the training take place. Committee members Virginia Benavidez and Kirsten Boyd both resigned.

  4. Old/New Business:


  5. Announcements:

    Lauren Williams stated that UC Hastings is having a debate on same sex marriage this Thursday co-sponsored by OutLaw and the Federalist society. Bill Kirkpatrick thanked staff for including letters and responses to the Aging report in member packets. He stated that he is learning a lot from these responses and lack thereof. Scott Campbell stated that his company is changing its health plans and for the first time will be offering domestic partner benefits. Mr. Brinkin stated that he received an email that there will be a mayoral forum this coming Sunday at the Center from 3-5. Mr. Brinkin will forward members that information.

  6. Adjournment:

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.