LGBT Weekly » Commentary Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:55:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mental health, gun violence and blame Wed, 07 Oct 2015 18:03:40 +0000

GunAnother mass shooting perpetrated by a young white man. I use that description because if these shootings were being perpetrated by young Latino or black men, it would be the headline but I digress before I really get started.

Another mass shooting by a person who is mentally unstable. There is plenty of blame to go around. Since many think I have a liberal bent, let me start with my liberal friends at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU has been a tireless advocate for the rights of the mentally ill, so much so that it is extremely difficult to, as my grandmother used to say, “put someone away.” In fact, the ACLU has said the goal should be “nothing less than the abolition of involuntary hospitalization.”

Now families have limited ability to take action when their loved ones exhibit bizarre behavior. To get their loved ones help is almost virtually impossible due to the rights of the mentally disabled. While I am for personal rights, why should the rights of the mentally disabled trample someone else’s right to live? Are we willing to let innocent lives be lost to protect a mentally unstable individual’s rights? The ACLU believes the answer to that question is yes.

The pendulum needs to swing in the other direction; families need to be able to more easily commit their loved ones who they believe are a danger to themselves or others. The liberal ACLU needs to admit their responsibility in the increase of mentally unstable individuals roaming our streets, some who perpetrate mass murder.

Then there is the GOP. The Republican Messiah, Ronald Reagan, bears some responsibility for the mentally unstable and homeless on the streets of America, particularly in California. In 1967, then Gov. Reagan signed into law a bill that made it extremely difficult to commit a loved one involuntarily. The result, homeless, mentally unstable people on the streets because they were released from mental hospitals with episodes of violence like mass shootings. As California goes, so does the nation. Other states adopted the California plan, all in the pursuit of saving money and reducing the size of government.

Then there are the so-called Second Amendment advocates. You should be able to buy a gun, anytime, anywhere. No background checks, no mental health screenings, no mandated licensing. So the mentally ill can easily purchase a gun and inflict carnage at the local school, mall or workplace. The unfortunate perfect storm.

The ACLU protects the rights of the mentally ill making it harder to commit a loved one, Ronald Reagan and the right created the release of the mentally ill from state run hospitals to save money and the gun lobby allows the mentally ill easy access to guns. Is it any wonder that mass shootings have so dramatically increased? Unfortunately, all of the stands taken by each of these interest groups seems intractable. That means we will be talking about another mass shooting in about 150 days. Then the conversation about what needs to be done will begin again. And nothing will change.

This commentary was first published on The Huffington Post Politics Blog 10/6/15

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SeaWorld trainer responds to PETA commentary Sun, 04 Oct 2015 14:30:53 +0000
Jorge Villa caring for a ill sea lion pup that he rescued earlier this year from a local beach.

Jorge Villa caring for a ill sea lion pup that he rescued earlier this year from a local beach.

I read with dismay the Sept. 3 guest commentary (San Diego LGBT Weekly issue 181) by PETA’s Gray Caskey urging the LGBT community to unite against SeaWorld.  I am a proud member of San Diego’s LGBT community, and I completely disagree with the distorted portrait Ms. Caskey painted of our park.  There is no organization that is more dedicated to the physical, social and mental health and well-being of animals, including killer whales, than SeaWorld.  I’ve had the honor of spending the last 20 years of my life at SeaWorld caring for some of the most incredible animals in the world. I know firsthand SeaWorld’s commitment to animals, because I live this truth every day.

My parents couldn’t afford to take my family to the Pacific Northwest to observe killer whales in the Puget Sound.  Instead, it was my elementary school teacher who held my hand while I encountered my first marine mammals.  It was an educational field trip to SeaWorld where I met Shamu, dolphins and other animals at the park.  That experience, even at a very young age, changed my life forever.  I knew that when I grew up I wanted to work with these amazing animals.  It took years of hard work and determination to earn a degree in psychology, gain animal care experience and learn how to swim.  One of the happiest days of my life was when earned a position within the zoological department at SeaWorld and ever since I have been committed to giving these animals the best care possible and sharing them with millions of visitors every year from all over the world.

I don’t make these comments casually.  During my two decades at SeaWorld, I’ve not only devoted my life to killer whales, dolphins, pilot whales and sea lions, but, as part of our Rescue Team, I’ve come to the aid of hundreds of ill and injured marine mammals stranded on the beaches of San Diego County.  Rescuing an animal that is near death, giving it a second chance at life, and returning it to the ocean is something I cherish.  I don’t do this because of a pay check. I, like my fellow trainers, do this because we love these animals.  Regardless if it’s day or night, weekends or holidays, I am there for our animals. The relationship and bond I have with them is very special and something I wish everyone could experience. When I have a chance to talk with our guests after a show, especially young kids, and I can connect them to our animals, I know I’m making a difference in their lives and helping them gain a better understanding of and respect for all animals.

As part of our ongoing commitment to the health and welfare of our animals, we will be spending $100 million to expand our killer whale habitat.  This will be the fourth expansion of their habitat here at the park.  We are also contributing $10 million to killer whale research.

I was offended by Ms. Caskey trying to draw a connection between the LGBT community’s struggle for equality and how we care for our animals. Such a comparison is beyond obtuse.  And her condemnation of Nicole Murray Ramirez, a San Diego icon, was equally insulting.  I want to thank Nicole for supporting SeaWorld and speaking the truth about all the great work we do as the real advocates for animals.

After 20 years at SeaWorld, I am as passionate about animals as I was when I was a little kid. The trainers I work with at the park not only share my passion, they have become my life-long friends.  Together, we spend most of our waking lives with our animals and we know that they are healthy and thriving.

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Marty Block broke his word. Atkins for Senate Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:01:18 +0000

Former Speaker of the Assembly Willie Brown with current Speaker Toni Atkins

If you look up the words “integrity” and “honesty” in the political dictionary, you would probably find a picture of Toni Atkins right next to these two words. Atkins has never forgotten where she came from – the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, a coal miner’s daughter. She grew up in a home with no running water and her mother cooked on a wood stove, which also attempted to heat Toni and her three siblings during the winter. She had an outhouse in the back.

Toni Atkins has always loved being a public servant and before people talked her into running for office she ran three women’s health clinics. That’s how I met her when she asked me and the Imperial Court to please help raise funds for women who could not afford even a $75 breast exam for cancer. Before that, in Virginia, she cleaned hotel rooms, worked at a dry cleaning store, frame factory and, yes, even pumped gas at a local gas station.

It’s no surprise that many in California (especially homeless advocates) call Toni Atkins “the people’s speaker.” What both Republicans and Democrats say about Toni Atkins in our state capitol is that this Assembly speaker is a woman of her word and is honest.

Marty Block is from Chicago … need I say more? It is well known in political circles that it was Marty Block who approached Toni Atkins and pleaded with her not to run for the vacant senate seat and he gave his word that he planned to retire in 2016 and would only serve one term and would then support Atkins for Senate in 2016.

Well, like I said, Marty Block is from Chicago and we all know how far honesty and integrity and “your word” holds up in their kind of politics.

Marty Block is a nice enough man. He’s never been a leader, more of a follower. The cold hard fact is that Marty Block lied to Toni Atkins and did not keep his word. So I join Chis Kehoe, Todd Gloria, David Alvarez, Shirley Weber and San Diegans from all walks of life to support: “Toni Atkins for Senate 2016!” Honesty and integrity always beats out lies and broken promises.

Stonewall movie: The worst acting ever

While in San Francisco this past weekend for a history panel at the San Francisco Community Center which included Cleve Jones, soon to be a Marine Judge Advocate, Joseph Rocha took me to see the movie Stonewall. It’s not that this movie has become controversial and not told this historic story well (at least the producer has stated that his movie is fictional), this movie is a hot mess with some of the worst acting I have ever seen on a movie screen.

An actor who has just gotten beat up by a “trick” is so over the top that instead of feeling sorry for him, you find yourself laughing at such poor acting skills. And guess what, according to this movie the person who threw the first brick at the Stonewall Riots in 1969, was an Abercrombie & Fitch perfect blond built model from Indiana. Oh please, when pigs fly did it happen that way.

The budget for this movie must have been “food stamps” and the entire cast’s acting was so horrible that I am nominating this movie for the annual Razzie Awards: (worst movie and acting Oscars-like event). Director Roland Emmerich and writer Jon Robin Baitz hijacked this historic event (the Stonewall riots) and worst of all they picked the least talented actors they could find and made a really bad “B” movie of it all.

A San Francisco weekend

Little did I know when I arrived in San Francisco for a speaking engagement and charity event that it was the same weekend of the very gay annual event Folsom Street Fair, which attracts over 200,000 people (71 percent non-San Franciscans), with a $180 million boost to the local economy. Although I didn’t go to the Fair, I did bump into a lot of San Diegans at my hotel and on the streets.

During my five-day visit of events, meetings, etc., I had the honor of presenting awards to The Bay Area Reporter, The San Francisco Bay Times, the Alexander Hamilton American Legion Post 448, San Francisco Night Ministry, 88-year-old gay veteran Robert Potter, historian photographer “Rink,” Bay Times publishers Dr. Betty L. Sullivan and Jennifer L. Viegas, Bay Area Reporter Assistant News Editor Mathew Bajko and the Founder of the Screen Actor’s Guild’s LGBT committee, Jason Stuart.

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Why McCarthy would be wise to keep his current job Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:01:05 +0000

Kevin McCarthy

In the wake of House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement of his retirement at the end of the month, political insiders think that his second in command, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, has the inside track to take the gavel. That may be true, but McCarthy would be wiser to keep his current job and elect a speaker from the far right of the party.

Boehner made it clear that he is retiring, at least in part, because of conflicts with the conservative members of his caucus. In January, 25 of his Republican colleagues voted against his election as speaker. One member filed a motion that he “vacate the chair” earlier this year. Their reason? Boehner isn’t conservative enough.

Never mind that he blocked moderate legislation that passed the Senate, like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Immigration Reform. Forget that he enacted the budget slashing “sequester” and preserved many of the Bush tax cuts. Leading the party to its largest House majority in decades? Doesn’t matter. Boehner didn’t repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood or refuse to raise the debt ceiling, so the most conservative members of his party wanted him out.

The problem is that no Republican could do those things, which is why Boehner called those conservatives “false prophets” who “whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things they know … are never going to happen.” As long as there remains a Senate filibuster for legislation, 41 united Democrats can block any such action. If they choose to let it pass, a Democratic president would still veto the measure.

Boehner has already admitted that he will likely need Democratic votes to fund the government this year. The only other option would be to shut down the government until the president gives in, which he won’t, because presidents tend to win shutdowns as Americans rally around their leader. The 2013 shutdown didn’t hurt Republicans at the ballot box in 2014, but things could be very different in a presidential election year.

Should he become speaker, Rep. McCarthy will face the same facts. He may have a more effective leadership style or better relationships, but he won’t be able to get conservatives what they want as long as there are 41 Democrats in the Senate or one in the White House. The moment McCarthy has to compromise to get something passed, Boehner’s enemies will start calling for his head.

Which is why McCarthy should keep his current job, play the good soldier, and offer to show a more conservative speaker the ropes. Eventually the hard right will be forced to face reality by one of their own or voted out after endless government shutdowns. Either way, McCarthy will then be well placed to start a more productive and less stressful term as speaker.

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Traveling by air while trans Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:00:58 +0000


When Shadi Petosky entered into TSA screening to take to the air at Orlando International Airport Sept. 21, she did so with the presumption she had a terrorist body – whether she knew it or not.

She may have never been singled out in exactly that way before, or talked to in the way she had been talked to by a TSA agent in that way before, but that didn’t mean her body wasn’t a terrorist body.

“Male bombers may dress as females in order to discourage scrutiny,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a security advisory in 2003. In countries where women wear niqabs and burqas – such as in the Middle East – male suicide bombers have dressed in these and have hidden improvised explosive devises (IEDs). They have discouraged scrutiny in order to take lives and cause terror.

The DHS threat in that advisory was worded much more broadly so that trans women who live in America – the vast majority who don’t dress in niqabs and burqas – quietly had their bodies defined as terrorist bodies. And, when trans people fly, the DHS mindset changed from one of discouraged scrutiny to heightened scrutiny.

The DHS advisory has long since been identified as outdated and obsolete, but in the sense of the mindset that trans people are inherently threatening it hasn’t. Secure Flight added gender to the list of identifying characteristics air travelers need to provide to airlines when buying a ticket, ostensively to be used as a tool to help make sure that people who have similar names to those on the U.S. no fly list aren’t inadvertently denied the ability to fly. But, it also inadvertently reinforces western societal gender expression norms.

Transgender people’s gender markers on their state identification cards don’t always match their expressed gender. Without invasive genital surgeries that are often beyond many transgender people’s economic reach – and often unwanted because these are so invasive – many can’t change the gender markers on their IDs. Someone with an M on their presented identification card who presents as female, and vice versa, can raise a red flag.

Addressing the gender marker issue on official ID cards, the Department of State changed their passport issuance rules in 2009. Under the changed rules, a transgender person can obtain a passport and/or a passport card that matches their gender identities without invasive surgeries. This addresses the TSA secure gender matching issue regarding gender identity and expressed gender.

But gender markers don’t address bodies.

On Christmas Day, 2009, Umar Abdulmutallab, who’s better known now to most Americans as the Underwear Bomber, boarded a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, Mich. He turned what’s between the legs of all air travelers in the U.S. to a TSA concern.

Now one’s “junk” isn’t off limits.

And, that mattered when Shadi Petosky entered into TSA screening to take to the air at Orlando International Airport Sept 21.

Electronic scanners, while not seeing the full anatomy of people anymore as they did in 2010 when first introduced, are set to check stereotypical male and female bodies: the software literally has a pink button for females and a blue button for males on a touch screen. Since trans bodies don’t always align to the standard sex norms, a trans body’s groin area can read as an anomaly.

And that’s not even including prosthetics, such as binders, breast forms and hair pieces. These too can identify a trans body as a body that may be a terrorist body.

There are aggressive full body searches that can be opted for as either an alternative for the electronic body scan, or required if the electronic body scan shows up with an anomaly that indicates an air traveler should be treated with heightened scrutiny. But once this occurs, a trans traveler inevitably needs to out themself to the TSA agents. Often, the reaction of these agents isn’t culturally sensitive. That’s also what Shadi Petosky experienced.

Without a doubt, we want as safe an airline experience as possible; we don’t want another 9/11 or a bomb going off mid-flight.

But somehow, there must be a way to do this without the presumption that trans people are male bombers dressing as females in order to discourage scrutiny, or at least in a way that’s more culturally sensitive.

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My queer relationship with Jesse Helms Mon, 21 Sep 2015 01:45:33 +0000
Jesse Helms

Jesse Helms

I had many reasons to enjoy a successful and meaningful career as a gay diplomat with the United States government. I traveled widely and enjoyed the company of other diplomats, foreign professionals and international businesspeople.

I had intestinal parasites, robberies and anti-American types who pointed guns at me and threatened me with knives.   My worst and longest lasting fallout came from several Washington encounters with Jesse Helms, a member and later Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The joy of sexual relationships largely ended for me in July 1994 when GOP North Carolina senator took the Senate floor and CSPAN cameras to out me as “an activist in the homosexual movement” and for illegally, according to him, “promoting the gay agenda” in the federal workplace.

The senator prided himself on his bias against the “disgusting” LGBT community. He opposed gay and lesbian presidential nominees to federal posts requiring Senate approval. He expressed outrage that “militant” homosexuals, like me, be considered fit to work for the U.S. government. He also opposed straight political allies of the LGBT community.

Many high level federal members of the LGBT community in Washington feared Helms and refused to come out of the closet in the highly politicized government workplace. I was not one of them. My late father, a Korean veteran, served with the Alabama National Guard during the violent civil rights struggle in the state.

The courage of the Alabama Guard and my late father in backing down the Ku Klux Klan at the historic civil rights events , including the third Selma march in 1965, were strong examples to me where taking a stand against injustice was right for people and history.

Though I was out to my friends, coworkers and family, I was not out to the world until Jesse Helms did me the honor on CSPAN. This “honor” changed my working relationships with other diplomats and civil servants. They considered me a professional embarrassment and unfit to serve abroad. I was a mistake and, since senior diplomats dared not cross Clinton administration policies on gays and lesbians, they would not fire me. They would let Helms do the dirty work. Former trusted colleagues became just that “former trusted colleagues.”

Anonymous notes on my desk and telephone calls let me know management would find a way to support and satisfy Jesse Helms in getting rid of me. Supportive secretaries called me at home after work and told me of a management plan to accuse me of a violation of a federal workplace policy the next day. “Call in sick,” they advised, “until the plan falls through.”

A fax by a supportive coworker named another coworker with an intention of documenting a sex in the workplace case against me. “I strongly urge you to watch your back,” she wrote.

My long-term relationship with a Hong Kong medical doctor began to suffer in the bedroom and at social functions at Washington embassies and clubs. I sought medical help from a Nigerian psychiatrist and received a depression diagnosis.

Though I was superbly qualified for my diplomatic position, I could not understand why the government would support Helms and aggressively work to end my career. . That was the power of workplace bigotry in the 1990s. I became confused, angry and emotionally upset.

The depression affected my relationship with my partner. During a bitter fight initiated over Helms and the nightmares I began having about the bigot, I ended our relationship and moved from our suburban Maryland home to live with friends in Georgetown. I tried to ignore Helms, turn the page, and move on. If only events and depression would have let me.

When I went to my favorite DuPont Circle restaurants alone, I could not eat. The many happy gay and lesbian couples at nearby tables further depressed me. Though I could see the happiness, I could not enjoy friendships and relationships of my own due to the depression over Helms and my hostile workplace.

At the office, long and difficult work assignments disappeared from my desk and I was forced to stay late to recover my lost work. Leaving my office one evening, I found my car vandalized. In desperation, I screamed aloud for no one’s benefit but mine.

I felt isolated, alone and frightened by constantly having “to watch my back.” I could not focus on a movie in a theater or a play at the Kennedy Center. If I invited a gay friend to a concert, I found conversation, formerly enjoyable, impossible.

The situation at work was not just chilly but frozen in fear and bias due to the horror colleagues had that Helms might target them for helping me promote the gay agenda in the federal workplace. The silence was deafening.

I learned the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” he once said.

Helms-related nightmares and telephone death threats late at night disrupted my sleep and concentration at work. One strange man called late at night and claimed to have worked with me earlier in my career. He had a package he wanted to mail me. He said it contained important information on the LGBT movement for justice in the federal workplace.

I did not recall the man and his call came during the Unabomber mailings. I was suspicious of the call and any potential package that might arrive. I asked him not to mail any packages to me.

“Who should I mail it to?” he asked.

If it were truly important, as he stated, I suggested he send it to the White House. I figured if the package were dangerous, the Secret Service would intercept it and arrest the sender.

During free time and weekends I tried to make new friends and find romance, if only briefly. I sat on a bench at the famous DuPont Circle fountain and watched others without energy or interest to pursue or to be pursued. I feared a failed relationship and ruining another man’s life with my Helms problems. I felt no one would understand my complicated personal and mental situation. For the first time in my life, I was completely alone.

I had a few one-night stand sexual encounters that resulted in abuse, unsafe sex, and drugs. I eventually placed my sex life on hold until I recovered from depression. It took longer than I expected as I continued to work with my Nigerian psychiatrist.

Eventually my dreams turned to a sexual nature. They went like this. I would meet a nice looking international man in a restaurant or gay bar. We would strike up a conversation, determine sexual compatibility, and return to his apartment. In bed, as my lover and I became passionate, I looked into his face and it was the face of Helms. Jesse was violating me in my dream as he had violated my career from the senate, my psychiatrist offered in explanation.

The Helms dream would not stop and I dreaded sleep and the loss of consciousness that brought me into bed with the hideous and hateful Helms. I explained this to my psychiatrist and he offered stronger sleeping medicine. I took the medicine with little success in alleviating Helms from my mind.

In order to rid myself of Helms and the devastating depression resulting from his bigotry, I sought help from church groups, gay support groups, and physicians who suggested I travel and gain new experiences to displace the horrific Helms experience on my sex life and professional career. Thus, I became a workaholic to defeat the demon of Jesse Helms.

I tried to displace Helms but found more disappointment in abusive one-night stands. One such encounter in Ireland nearly resulted in my death by an Irishman who was in Dublin for his gay sex weekend. “I am not a queer like you,” he said as he beat me before leaving the hotel room.

My desire to have Helms out of my bed and my mind caused me to make desperately bad relationship choices. Drugs, unsafe sex, and verbal and physical abuse characterized these choices.

Though it is more than 20 years now, Helms is still in my bed and in my mind. Perhaps the bigot will reside in my mind forever. It is a scary thought that causes me, at times, to consider suicide. The empty space on the other side of my bed produces the same thought.

Considering the record slow pace Congress has taken in advancing laws to prevent workplace discrimination against LGBT workers, if possible, the pain, suffering, loneliness, and depression I experienced has no doubt been multiplied by hundreds if not thousands of other LGBT workers at all levels of employment. I am a suicide survivor but I have to survive it every day.

The lack of political leadership to prevent employment inequality is hurting innocent people economically, health wise, and relationship wise. The results of discrimination include suicide, mental illness, poverty, acts of gay-on-gay and gay-on-straight violence, unemployment, underemployment, addiction, and loss of happy and meaningful relationships and lives. This enormous cost to our economy and loss of contributions by talented and educated LGBT workers must end.

Jesse Helms is long dead. His legacy of employment discrimination must die also. I have tried to kill my career rapist Jesse Helms in my dreams. It must be done legally with laws to stop LGBT discrimination in the workplace and in the halls of Congress where the Helms legacy still haunts Capitol Hill and damages lives across the country.

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at


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Unhealthy Catholic policies in San Diego Sun, 20 Sep 2015 20:00:34 +0000

The Diocese of San Diego is putting the well being of many of their thousands of students at their schools in jeopardy every day. The Church’s teachings on gay and lesbian behavior that is intertwined in its schools’ curricula are harmful to students and are not recommended by many reputable national organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American School Counselor Association.

Several representatives from the Catholic Church recently told me their official position is that people are sinners when they are gay and engage in homosexual behavior. Students are informed about the consequences of this deviant behavior that accompany it. This is made clear in the church doctrine that is a vital part of what is taught in the diocesan Catholic schools and that students are expected to understand and comply with.

One of the options given by a diocesan priest I spoke with was that students could become celibate and not act upon their homosexual urges at any time. It is healthy and normal to want to have sex at some point in life so this seems quite an unlikely option for gay students. The only remaining option by default for these students if they want to avoid sinning in their lifetimes is that they must change their sexual orientation.

The American Psychological Association adopted a resolution which states that efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation using reparative therapy are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.

It seems counterintuitive to me then that the schools in the Diocese of San Diego should put students in a position where a harmful process should be considered in order to be considered normal. With this official position, the diocesan schools are also teaching multitudes of children in its many schools that changing sexual orientation is a viable option.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said that reparative therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.

The Diocese of San Diego is essentially rejecting these students. The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of the verb reject is to refuse to accept. This is exactly what the Catholic schools and teachers are doing when they instruct their students with this Church policy as part of the curriculum. They are rejecting the normal and healthy actions that gay students will likely participate in during their lifetimes.

A study done at San Francisco State University showed that those gay and lesbian students that felt highly rejected by their teachers were eight times more likely to attempt suicide than those students that were only slightly rejected by their teachers. These same students feeling highly rejected were six times more likely to experience high levels of depression than their peers that felt only slightly rejected.

It seems ironic for example that some diocesan schools express in their mission that they will develop the potential of each child emotionally and physically among other things.

Students’ emotional potential can’t be developed if they are being rejected for the people they are. The emotional trauma they experience from this rejection also often leads to many physical problems from the extreme stress put upon them to change.

There are certainly options that can minimize or eliminate this harm that is prevalent in the schools within the Diocese of San Diego. These include having Gay Straight Alliances in the student body or having openly gay mentors or role models in the school that can speak freely about their experiences. It should also include a change in the curriculum that is currently predicated upon the official Church policy of rejecting the sexual orientation and actions of gay students.

I encourage Bishop McElroy and all Catholic leaders to make these changes as soon as possible. There are many students that are being harmed each school day with the current policies in the Diocese of San Diego schools and numerous other diocesan schools as well. It is appalling to think that in 2015 in our land of opportunity we are treating the future of our society in such a damaging and unhealthy manner.

This article of saintly suggestion is brought to you by that guy wandering in the desert for 40 days. That guy of fantastic faith is Ron Blake and you can send a Hail Mary his way at

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About Nathan Fletcher and Lorena Gonzalez Thu, 17 Sep 2015 20:16:44 +0000

Nathan Fletcher, Nicole Murray Ramirez and Lorena Gonzalez

This past Tuesday I joined my good friends, Nathan Fletcher and Lorena Gonzalez, for lunch for a pre-birthday celebration of this popular state assemblywoman’s birthday. And we all know that what we wish more than anything for our best friends is their happiness. I have long admired former Marine Nathan for his long history of being an advocate and champion for his fellow veterans. Currently he is the chairman of an organization that helps veterans and recently met with President Obama concerning veterans’ affairs. As for Lorena, her tireless advocacy for the poor, women’s rights, Latino causes and working families is well known. Yes, now these two friends of mine are dating and they are very happy. Even Nathan’s former wife, Mindy, is supportive and happy for them both. That’s all I am going to say about this as I will respect their privacy. If you’re a friend of Nathan or Lorena or both, just be happy for them and trust me they are very very happy! Happy Birthday Lorena!

Thank you Laurie Leonard for Mama’s Kitchen

It truly drives me crazy how many activists/leaders and organizations seemingly forget or ignore the history of our community and their organizations; the pioneers, founders, trailblazers and early community activists who built our community and organizations whose shoulders we stand on. This past Monday night at a community townhouse at our LGBT Center, an elderly gay man stood up and said there aren’t many of us left from the “Stonewall generation” of the 1960s and ‘70s – and sadly he is absolutely right. As I’ve said so many times before, God has blessed me to be able to witness the growth, visibility and empowerment of the two communities and people I love – the Latino and LGBT communities and civil rights movements.

The GSDBA was founded by Ron Umbaugh, Frank Stiriti and Phil Baldwin (two who have passed away). The Imperial Court’s first monarchs were Emperor I Omar and Empress I Tawny Tann (I was not an empress until IV and not a founder of the Court). The Democrats for Equality was founded by Attorney Bob Lynn; our first AIDS Walk by Susan Jester. The National Dignity Organization was founded in San Diego for LGBT Catholics – I could go on and on. I ask all of our LGBT organizations to please always remember your founders by maybe establishing an award in their honor and always include them in your printed programs and Web sites. Yes, many of them have passed (a lot because of AIDS) but let us never forget them and their contributions to our community. Thank you!

One of those heroes and founders was lesbian community activist Laurie Leonard who along with her wonderful mother founded Mama’s Kitchen which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary! Seems some in our community forget the most important role that lesbians/women played in those early dark days of AIDS (and still do) from the Blood Sisters of the Democratic Club to the founders and organizers of Mama’s Kitchen, AIDS Walk, Christie’s Place and Special Delivery all being women.

Laurie Leonard gave her love and years of hard work and dedication to Mama’s Kitchen. I remember when she got some of us together at the start (Frank Stiriti, Gene Burkard and Darl Edwards, among a few) to join a group called Mama’s Kitchen Cabinet at a $1,000 membership fee (smart woman). We of course all joined and I was representing the Imperial Court. So on the 25th anniversary of Mama’s Kitchen let us all say, thank you and God bless you to Laurie and her family. Love you girlfriend!

Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts for supervisor

The re-election of Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts, to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is very important and should be a priority for all that don’t want them to be replaced by right wing ultra conservatives which could be possible. I urge your support and endorsements of these good public officials.

San Diego AIDS Walk: Sept 26

With ongoing government funding cuts our HIV-AIDS agencies more than ever need our help and support. The annual AIDS Walk is our city’s biggest HIV-AIDS fundraiser that benefits so many HIV-AIDS organizations in San Diego County and Baja California. AIDS Walk is set for next Saturday Sept. 26, though sadly once again I will be out of the state.

I will be thinking of and being grateful for all of you. A big thank you to our LGBT Center and staff for producing this annual event and their dedication, commitment and hard work when it comes to HIV-AIDS in general in San Diego.

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September is National Recovery Month Thu, 17 Sep 2015 20:16:40 +0000


For me, National Recovery Month is a reminder of how far we’ve come, both therapeutically and in society, regarding the treatment of addiction and mental health conditions. This month especially, we get to celebrate those who are in recovery and increase awareness for those who are still suffering. Even in the 26 years since the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) started sponsoring National Recovery Month in 1989, we’ve seen dramatic changes in the way that people are being treated – and are recovering – from conditions that have historically been misunderstood and addressed separately.

Early on in my career, I specifically recall the fragmented process of “helping” the addicted person who experienced mental health challenges. The chasm between treatment agencies was vast and deep. Self-help groups in the community held biases against recovery addicts on mood-stabilizing medications. Mental health agencies were only funded to treat mental health conditions, not addiction. Agencies that treated addiction were not staffed to manage the mental health issues that required professional care and treatment.

Many individuals were quick to lose hope due to being passed off from one system to the next. It was typical to send a person across town for addiction issues and then expect them to return the same day for mental health treatment. Needless to say, many were lost in a health care system that was not designed to meet the needs of the individuals with co-occurring disorders in one system of care.

Today, a person can receive comprehensive treatment along a continuum of care from the first days of detoxification and stabilization to residential treatment – and then they can return to the community while participating in outpatient services. The benefits of having this uninterrupted continuation of service are many.

We’ve gotten to a place where we can treat the whole person. You are not your diagnosis, and you don’t have to pinball between systems to get the care you need. At Foundations, preparing someone for a new life in recovery involves holistic activities that activate the mind and body, process groups that help patients connect and encourage others in treatment, family therapy that repairs relationships wherever possible, and an emphasis on restoring one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. It’s so much greater than detox or therapy appointments. It’s preparation and equipping for sustainable life change.

Treatment has come a very long way since the early 1750s when Native American tribe members formed sobriety circles encouraging others to abstain and reject alcohol to return to the traditional ancestral ways. Their wisdom and courage recognized the devastating impact of alcohol on their society. National Recovery Month places that same focus and intention to raise awareness and guide individuals to a life of balance and authenticity. And these days, we continue to have more to celebrate about all the innovations in treatment. More and more treatment professionals are focusing on partnering with recovering persons to restore balance to the common life areas of health, home, purpose and community. As a society with epidemic proportions of addiction, we must turn our attention to the excellent systems of care that are now available to individuals seeking treatment.

So I hope you will appreciate National Recovery Month like I do. It’s another signpost on the road that shows us that we have learned more – and what we are doing is working. Prevention matters, and treatment is effective. People do recover from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. People do recover from mental health conditions and manage their symptoms well.

National Recovery Month spreads a very positive message promoting the benefits of balanced living and recovery. Are you a person who needs that message? If not, do you know someone who does? Help is here for you to live a full life in recovery, and you can start today.

Patricia Bathurst, MFT is the director of Foundations San Diego, an outpatient recovery facility located in Hillcrest at 3930 Fourth Ave., Suite 301, San Diego, CA 92103. Ms. Bathurst is a certified advanced addiction counselor, as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Questions for Pat? Contact Foundations San Diego at 619-321-1575.

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Debunking the ‘anchor baby’ argument Thu, 17 Sep 2015 20:16:38 +0000


I have conservative friends with whom I enjoy discussing policy issues. Sometimes I educate. Sometimes I learn. Sometimes we find common ground.

Occasionally they say something that lets me know I should give up on a conversation that is going nowhere. Like when they say “anchor baby.”

Let’s unpack this, because that phrase is so wrong that it shouldn’t be uttered. When it is, the speaker might be taken seriously as a threat, but not as an intellectual.

The first problem is that “anchor baby” makes no linguistic sense. Merriam Webster defines “anchor” as: a heavy device that is attached to a boat or ship by a rope or chain and that is thrown into the water to hold the boat or ship in place. Does that sound like something a baby can do?

An alternate definition is: a person or thing that provides strength and support. Again, can a baby do that? If there is something that anchors an immigrant family to the United States, it is the adult’s hard work to find a job and make a living here, not whether they have a child who is a citizen.

Which brings us to issue number two: a child who is a citizen doesn’t really help the parents. They don’t get automatic legal status because their offspring is a citizen. According to immigration law, the best the parents get is the advantage of having a sponsor – when their child is 21. They would still have to leave for years before they could be considered for a green card.

Any consideration given to the parents of native born American citizens is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, the same process President Obama has invoked (and conservatives have attacked) in allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). I’m happy to debate those rules with conservatives as part of immigration policy.

But not birth right citizenship, because it isn’t an immigration policy. It’s an anti-slavery policy. I know this, because it is in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, passed after the Civil War. Four score and seven years belated, America made it clear that former slaves and their children were full five fifths American citizens. Over the significant hurdles to amending the Constitution, they said “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

I don’t believe it was a mistake, or that those building fathers took it lightly. I think they anticipated what we see now, and have seen with every wave of immigration. Americans look at new people as “other.” If they are “other” for generations on end, they could become second class citizens akin to slavery. Making native born children American citizens is a barrier to perpetual discrimination. Birth right citizenship hasn’t ended racial and ethnic bias, but it is the best check we have on our most regrettable history. The next time someone rails against “anchor babies”, don’t engage them on open borders. Ask them why they would perpetuate a second class of Americans.

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The trans community is not homogenous Thu, 17 Sep 2015 20:16:37 +0000


I’ve had a peer trans journalist who’s 1) been out as trans about a decade less than the twelve years I’ve been out, and 2) makes a hell of a lot more at our trade than I do, tell me this past week that she doesn’t believe that the trans community exists.

And, of course, she works at the publication that published a July op-ed by Jen Richards entitled What Trans Movement? The publication that published that piece is The Advocate.

“The trans movement isn’t just a convenient narrative, it is a dangerous lie,” Richards wrote. “There isn’t a trans movement, or a trans community, but rather multiple movements and communities, divided not only by race and class but also distinct histories, leaders, resources and needs.”

I’ve reached the point where I just want to rip my hair out and scream, “We’re a diverse community! Did you expect to enter into a homogenous community when you transitioned and came out?”

Seriously. Do we say there is no black community because there are black Republicans who decry the Black Lives Matter movement? Do we say there is no women’s community because the Concerned Women Of America want to defund and shut down every Planned Parenthood clinic in America?

Was the active duty and veterans community unified on repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Or are they now on open service for trans service members?

The word we’re ignoring is diversity. Not only is diversity an extra-community thing, but it’s an intra-community thing. We’re all individuals who have both commonalities and differences, and as individuals we tend to group with those with who we have commonalities.

So, within broad groups, we tend to associate with those we intersect with in other ways – such as in the trans community, trans veterans tend to clump together. So do trans people of color and trans people with similar disabilities.

The trans movement isn’t a dangerous lie. It instead is an opportunity to excel – an opportunity to step out of our natural comfort zones and create bonds across what Richards calls “multiple movements and communities, divided not only by race and class but also distinct histories, leaders, resources and needs” instead of decry that the bonds don’t naturally appear.

Well, the trans community exists. If I were only to see it in the proliferation of pink, white, and blue flags across the nation, I would know we fly under one flag.

But, I also see the community in the rallying behind the cause of ending the murders of trans women. I see it every Nov. 20 – the Transgender Day of Remembrance – when we name our dead and mourn them.

I see it too in the work of organizations such as the Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and SPARTA, as well as conferences such as Gender Odyssey and the Philadelphia Transgender Healthcare Conference. We organize; we plan; we achieve goals such as legislation and regulation.

Hell, I saw the community in the first four months I came out, way back in 2003. It was when here in San Diego trans people banded together to work to add gender identity to the Human Dignity Ordinance – the city’s civil rights ordinance.

Those who aren’t seeing the trans community aren’t looking for it, or are looking for a mythical homogenous community when no identity community is homogenous. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a singular community. I’ve hit the point where I’m calling bullshit on the idea that we’re not one community if we’re not homogenous.

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Kentucky voters will determine if obstructionism is a viable position Thu, 10 Sep 2015 18:19:37 +0000

Kim Davis is refusing to do her job, but she’s far from the only Kentuckian shirking responsibility. More troubling is that the governor and state legislature are refusing to act. How voters respond will be an important statement about the future of LGBT rights and the rule of law.

Davis is the Rowan County clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing that affixing her name violates her religious beliefs. A federal judge jailed her over the weekend for disobeying his order (and the Supreme Court decision) to issue licenses. Because her deputies were issuing the licenses, she was released Tuesday with instructions not to get in the way. Problem solved?

Probably not. The licenses are being issued without Davis’ signature, which is just fine according to the County attorney and governor. Davis’ attorney disagrees and might find a way to challenge the licenses. Further, Davis could at any time decide to stop her deputies from issuing licenses, at which point she presumably returns to jail. The situation needs a more permanent fix than temporary incarcerations and questionable licenses.

Davis was elected, so she can’t be fired. She may also have the right to an accommodation of her religious beliefs under Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Click here for a review of the legalities: Impeaching Davis or creating an accommodation is a job for the Kentucky General Assembly, but Gov. Steve Beshear has refused to do his job and call them into session.

Beshear claims his inaction is based on frugality, seeing “no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer’s money calling a special session of the General Assembly when 117 of 120 county clerks are doing their jobs.” More likely is that Beshear, a Democrat in a conservative state, thinks the issue is a loser – an especially lame excuse as he can’t run again. A special session no doubt would be well worth the cost if 0.025 percent of officials instituted new gun control regulations on their own.

The best defense of Beshear’s inaction it is that there is no reason to think that the legislature will act. The Republican dominated Senate is unlikely to do anything that could be considered “pro-gay” for fear of a conservative primary challenge. That might be smart politics, but it is also blatant hypocrisy from a party whose rhetorical panacea for issues from immigration to gun control is “enforce current laws.” In the case of marijuana legalization, that includes using federal law to trump state law.

In the end, much will depend on how voters do their job. Davis will not be on the ballot in 2016 (unless she is impeached and runs again), but expect local legislators in Kentucky and other conservative states to take firm positions on same-sex marriage and espoused religious freedom. If voters reward candidates who will obey the Supreme Court decision, even if they disagree with it, 2016 might be the last year where obstructionism is a viable position. If voters reward candidates who stand athwart history yelling “Stop”, the battle over marriage equality, and other LGBT rights, will likely rage for elections to come.

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2015 Nicky Award winners Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:48:23 +0000

Lorena Gonzalez | PHOTO: BIG MIKE

The 40th Annual Nicky Awards were a great success and a sold-out event at the Marriott Hotel. There will be some major new changes next year and hats off to producers Allan Spyere and Michael Zarbo.

And the winners were … Outstanding Business: Green Fresh Florals; Community Organization: Human Dignity Foundation; Businesswoman: Joyce Rowland; Businessman: John Ealy/Harley Gray; Community Volunteer: Ricky Cervantes; Sports Organization: San Diego American Flag Football League; Neighborhood Bar:Uptown Tavern; New Business: Breakfast Republic Restaurant; Best Restaurant: Heat Bar and Kitchen; HIV/AIDS Service provider: Mama’s Kitchen; Bank: California Bank & Trust; Nightclub: Rich’s; DJ/VJ: Dirty Kurty; Pharmacy: AHF Pharmacy; Writer: Morgan Hurley/Gay San Diego; Straight Ally: Adrianna Martinez; Brunch: Martini’s Above Fourth; Bar: Urban Mo’s; Community Event: AIDS Walk/City Fest; Personal Trainer: Grant Foreman; Transgender Personality: Will Williams; Male Personality: Rich Reyes; Female Personality: Susan Jester; Impersonator: Paris; Leather Personality: Paulo Batista; Entertainer Group: San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus; Publication: Gay San Diego; Bar Manager: Patrick Walsh/Flicks; Online Media: SDGLN; Title Holder: Angel Fairfax; Achievement in the Arts: Travis; Bar Owner: Jim Simpsom and Doru Tifui /Martinis, Nick Moede/Rich’s; Philanthropist: Ben Dillingham; Dancer: Jake London Sawa; Bar Event: Top of the Bay /Numbers Bear Night; Male Waitperson: Marshal Alexander/Martinis; Female Waitperson: Mayra/Baja Betty’s; Women’s Night: Lez/Rich’s; Bar Employee: Johnny Goodman/Baby Cakes; Bartender (Male): David Cope/Mo’s; Female: Jersey/ Top of the Park; Male Couple: Jay Jones and Brad Hart; Female Couple: Moe Girton and Dawn Stultz; Real Estate Agent: Ryan Dick; Man of the Year: Matt Stevens; Woman of the Year: Toni Duran; 2015 Mayor George Moscone Award: Mayor Kevin Faulconer; Harvey Milk Civil Rights Awards: Carolina Ramos and Connor Maddocks; Portantino Media Award: Rage Magazine.

Gay organizations exhibit at City Hall

Sept. 4 is the last day you can see the exhibit at City Hall, 202 C Street of the Imperial Court de San Diego. This is the first time in the history of City Hall exhibits that an LGBT organization has been spotlighted and City Hall officials have been saying that it is one of the best exhibits they have ever seen. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Imperial Court system of the United States, Canada and Mexico with over 68 chapters in these three countries. A special thank you to exhibit organizers: Michael Zarbo, Roxy Blue, Ashley, Mikie Too, Tom Dickerson, Ajax, Toni Saunders, Jada, Hugay Bear and the offices of Councilman Todd Gloria.

LGBT Democratic Club delays Gonzalez endorsement

State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has been a very long time supporter and, yes, fighter and leader when it comes to LGBT civil rights. Yet at last week’s LGBT Democrats for Equality Club meeting, by about 28-20, the club deferred its usual endorsement of Gonzalez until their next meeting. Why? Because of Gonzalez questions and concerns about a “death with dignity” type of bill which other Assembly members are also concerned about (a final vote has not even been taken). Gonzalez has a 99.9 percent gay rights record. Is this the way we treat a long-time friend and ally?

Lincoln Club luncheon

Recently I was a guest of the Lincoln Club (thank you Chairman Steve Quinn) for a luncheon featuring Presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich.

To hear a Republican candidate speak about the poor, homeless issues, drug addiction and mental health was very refreshing. Kasich seems to be a common sense candidate whose grandfather was a coal miner and father a postman.

Though he has shown compassion when it comes to our LGBT community his record on our issues is not very good at all. But of all the Republican candidates he is the most decent and I was impressed with many of his moderate views.

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The LGBT community must unite against SeaWorld’s oppression Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:48:10 +0000

As a member of the LGBT community, I found it disturbing that Nicole Murray-Ramirez would try to persuade us – a group that knows all too well the pain and frustration of being denied rights – to support SeaWorld, a corporation that deprives orcas and other animals of their fundamental rights as well as everything that is natural and important to them.

Captive orcas and dolphins are not given the opportunity to make a single decision about their own lives. They can’t explore new and interesting places, interact with members of a pod, enjoy the bonds of a family hierarchy or even choose their own mate. Confined to cramped tanks and forced to perform demeaning tricks in front of screaming crowds, it’s no wonder that most captive marine mammals become depressed, anxious and neurotic.

A PETA Foundation veterinarian recently visited SeaWorld’s facilities in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando and documented that the animals held captive in these facilities float listlessly and are so stressed out that they’ve destroyed their teeth by chewing on the sides and bars of the tanks. Their bodies are riddled with scars and lesions that are likely the result of attacking one another out of frustration. In the ocean, orcas can swim away from aggressive encounters, but those trapped in SeaWorld’s tanks are unable to escape. I can’t imagine the terror of having no way to escape from a tormentor.

SeaWorld spends only a paltry 1 percent of its annual profit on studying orcas in the wild, but it doesn’t take a special study to realize that no tank would ever be adequate. In the vast ocean where they belong, orcas dive deep and swim up to 100 miles a day, often at high speeds. Even in SeaWorld’s planned “expanded” tanks, orcas would have to swim more than 1,500 laps each day to do the same.

All captive adult male orcas, along with some adult females, have collapsed dorsal fins – an aberration that almost never occurs in the wild. If given the choice, orcas usually remain in their extended family pods for life, but SeaWorld routinely separates terrified offspring from their distraught mothers and ships them off to other parks. Former trainers describe these separations and the cries of the anguished orcas as gut-wrenching.

After seeing how SeaWorld mistreats animals, many trainers have quit in disgust and even spoken out against the company, which seems to care as little about the safety and well-being of its employees as it does about the orcas it exploits.

Even after experienced trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by Tilikum the orca, the company fought hard to keep trainers in the water with the animals. A top executive at The Blackstone Group, SeaWorld’s largest shareholder at the time, even tried to blame Brancheau – who by all accounts was dedicated to her job and extremely competent – for making mistakes that caused her own death.

SeaWorld was cited and fined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing employees to life-threatening hazards. According to one OSHA official, “SeaWorld recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals. Nonetheless, it required its employees to work within the pool walls, on ledges, and on shelves where they were subject to dangerous behavior by the animals.”

Everyone deserves the right to pursue what makes them happy. But the orcas, dolphins and other animals trapped in SeaWorld’s tanks never enjoy such freedom. As a community that has struggled long and hard to overcome oppression and disrespect – the very things that the captive animals at SeaWorld are constantly subjected to – how could any of us ever feel that SeaWorld is worthy of our support?

Gray Caskey is a senior director at PETA.

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The 2016 Senate contests are worth watching Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:48:08 +0000

The 24/7 coverage of Trump-a-palooza and Clinton-mail makes it hard to remember there are other presidential candidates, much less other races. The 2016 Senate contests are worth keeping an eye on, though, as control of the upper chamber is once again up for grabs.

Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014, when Democrats elected in their 2008 sweep couldn’t defend seats in the more conservative non-presidential electorate. The tables are turned in 2016, with Republicans defending 24 seats in a presidential election year, including swing seats they gained in their 2010 rout. To reclaim control, Democrats need a net gain of four seats if they retain the White House and five if they don’t (the vice president breaks ties).

The most likely Democratic pick-up is Illinois, where Sen. Mark Kirk won a surprise 2010 victory in President Obama’s home state. Illinois voters chose a Republican governor last year, but haven’t elected a Republican senator in a presidential year since 1972. Democrats are excited about Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s chances even if she has to survive a primary. Overcoming a stroke gives Kirk a good narrative, but he hasn’t helped himself with odd statements, including calling bachelor Sen. Lindsey Graham a “bro with no ho.”

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is the next target. The man he beat in 2010, beloved liberal Sen. Russ Feingold, thrilled Democrats by agreeing to a rematch. Wisconsin is considered a swing state, but elections vary by turnout of the highly polarized electorate, not persuasion of a movable middle. Feingold remains well liked, should win handily if Wisconsin goes for the Democratic presidential nominee, and might even squeak by in a presidential loss.

Polling, candidate issues and the effect of the presidential race make the next tier of races harder to predict. Pennsylvania should be fertile ground for Democrats, but Sen. Pat Toomey has worked hard to moderate his Club for Growth image, and Democratic leaders are trying to prevent a rematch against former Rep. Joe Sestak. Former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland leads incumbent Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio polls, but most expect that gap to close as the quiet Portman gets his name back in the news. The race could turn on whether popular Gov. John Kasich is on the national Republican ticket. Ditto for Florida, where the presence of Sen. Marco Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush on the national ticket or a competitive primary could erase early Democratic polling advantages.

North Carolina and New Hampshire could be competitive if Democrats can land strong candidates as they did in Arizona, where a wave election or a retirement by Sen. John McCain could expand the map. At the moment, Republicans only see two real pick-up opportunities: Nevada and Colorado. The former is a statistical dead heat despite Republicans getting Rep. Joe Heck as their preferred candidate. In the latter, a state party in disarray has kept Republicans from recruiting a top tier candidate.

As for California, most expect the Democratic primary to determine the successor to retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.

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Doxxed by Cathy Brennan? Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:48:03 +0000

Cathy Brennan, a well-known activist who considers herself a gender critical feminist (GCF), and someone many trans feminists and trans activists consider a transgender exclusionary radical feminist (TERF), is suing Joey Stevenson of for monetary damages “of at least $70,000 and an injunction to prevent the continuation of the defamation,” according to a report published in the Maryland Daily Record.

What Stevenson wrote in her opinion piece Lesbian Abundance in 2015 was “Currently, Brennan continues the unwanted penetration narrative with Internet articles on how men are ‘pretending’ to be women to enter into womens’ spaces and inflict sexual violence, in addition to harassing and doxxing trans women on her Web sites.”

Brennan takes issue with the doxxing part of that statement.

Well, July 10, 2012, Brennan posted my then not publicly known, pre-transition, male first name (deadname) on her bugbrennan Twitter account (an account that’s since been shut down for a terms of service violation).

Five days later on the national blog Pam’s House Blend, I outed my full deadname. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but it was something I did to take the power away from Brennan to harm me with my deadname. By Brennan’s definition of doxxing, it sure seems to me that she doxxed me.

There’s more than one definition of doxxing, by the way. “Doc-dropping (dropping docs, doxing, doxxing) is the practice of obtaining and revealing personally identifying information (such as names, addresses, places of employment, relatives) of people who use the Internet, typically in a highly public manner as a call to arms against the target,” is a definition found on RationalWiki.

By elements of RationalWiki’s definition, Brennan doxxed me in 2011 over my public plans to change my legal gender. A commenter on Pam’s House Blend wrote “Where are you filing your petition [to change your legal gender]? What is the court address and case number? There are ladies on the blogs that want to file objections to your petition.” Writing as bugbrennan, Brennan responded to that commenter by posting a link to the San Diego Courthouse webpage where case numbers and court dates were given for those who were legally changing their genders.

A number of transsexual women then didn’t believe I should have been legally allowed to legally change my gender. They were planning on using the link that Cathy Brennan posted to find my case number, and then file friend of the court briefs in an attempt to block me from doing so.

I delayed filing for my legal change of gender for months because of the chain of events Cathy Brennan’s posting of that link initiated. It took California’s Vital Statistics Modernization Act becoming law the next year before I filed.

In my opinion, Cathy Brennan maliciously dropped the link in that Pam’s House Blend comment thread “as a call to arms against [a] target” – that target being me. And looking at that RationalWiki definition of doxxing, I believe she doxxed me.

I’ve seen others’ screenshots. Looking at those screenshots, I’m of the opinion I haven’t been the only target of doxxing by Cathy Brennan.

In May, 2012 Baltimore OUTloud published a column by Brennan entitled On Bullying, and Being Nice. In it, she wrote “We are ‘bullies’ because we don’t agree with you, political transgender community.” To me, in the title of the piece and in that line she’s telling us all she knows her own reputation is that of a bully. And in an October, 2013 interview with Michele Meow of Swirl Radio, she admitted that “if you Google my name you’ll find I’m an aggressive asshole.”

In my opinion, I see basis for the claim of doxxing, and I see evidence that she believes she doesn’t have a good reputation to be defamed. There has to be a political point she’s trying to make that I’m just not seeing.

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Support SeaWorld Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:00:34 +0000

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and his wife Katherine

I am glad that SeaWorld is finally really fighting back against PETA’s extreme and false claims by recently launching some educational public service and educational media outreach. The facts are that for over five decades no organization in San Diego County has done more to rescue and protect all ocean wildlife than SeaWorld. Yes, there have been some accidents at SeaWorld but PETA’s claim that SeaWorld systematically and knowingly mistreats its killer whales is not true.

The highly respected Association of Zoos and Aquariums have given SeaWorld its full accreditation after an independent review found they met its high standard. SeaWorld has put forth a $100 million plan to nearly double the size of their orcas’ habitat and has also committed $10 million for research on orcas in the wild.

Every year SeaWorld has undertaken to save sea lion pups that get mysteriously stranded on our beaches. The facts are that SeaWorld is inspected at least once a year by a federal agency and SeaWorld is accredited by actually two major zoological associations that both demand rigorous standards.

But nothing will ever be enough for PETA as they continue their negative and false campaigns against SeaWorld. I have close friends who have and do work at SeaWorld for many decades and they like all of us love all animals and tell me that they would never work at a place that mistreats any animal. Toni Atkins, Todd Gloria, Kevin Faulconer all strongly support SeaWorld because they know the facts and truth.

I urge you all to educate yourselves about the good people and programs at SeaWorld.

The golden state is turning brown …

So I have been saying in some of my speeches for the last decade and last month Latinos officially surpassed whites as California’s largest racial or ethnic group; there are now 14.99 million Latinos in California and I am proud to be one of them. And obviously there is also a more visible and growing LGBT Latino population with more Latinos taking on major activist and leadership roles in California.

Christians and gays being killed in the Middle East

It seems that the killing of thousands of Christians and gay people in the Middle East continues to get little media coverage or attention by American leaders. The facts are that Christians and LGBT people in the Middle East are being persecuted and murdered by Muslim extremists more than ever before. I am very proud of and salute the two San Diegans who have been leaders in the campaign to focus on the killing of Christians in the Middle Ease: Mark Arabo and Congressman Juan Vargas.

Truax House is a historic site

Congratulations and thank you to Lambda Archives, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Councilman Todd Gloria for securing state and local financial grants to preserve San Diego LGBT historic sites. Lambda Archives deserves credit for starting the campaign to focus on this most important issue and now comes word that the Truax House is being considered as a historic site and indeed it is. I remember talking to a very ill Dr. Brad Truax in the 1980s to get his permission so that the AIDS Assistance Fund, and I (president and co-founder) could name the three story house after him and he modestly said yes. I look forward to other LGBT historic sites to be named.

Nicky Awards to honor mayor this Sunday

The San Diego LGBT Academy Awards will be held this Sunday, Aug. 23 at the Marriot Hotel in Mission Valley (6 p.m.). Tickets and tables are going like hot cakes and the entire community is invited. It’s always an Oscar Awards and Red Carpet-like event with outstanding entertainment. Producer Allan Spyere is saying it’s going to be another fabulous fun night and Mayor Kevin Faulconer will be honored as the national co-chair of Mayors for Marriage Equality. For further info: 619-300-1232 or 619-254-6372.

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New approaches and medications for individuals in recovery Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:00:23 +0000


For many individuals recovering from addiction, the path of living a balanced life is a process, not an event. Each person seeking to live life free of addictive use of substances must find his or her own way to sobriety with the help of friends, significant others, family, mentors and many times with a treatment community.

Drug addiction is complex. If you are reading this article and have experienced the intense uncontrollable cravings and have sought out addictive substances despite devastating consequences, then you are aware of the changes in your behavior and the compulsivity of the addictive process. Addiction is known as a brain disease that deeply affects the circuitry of the brain. It has many components, and treatment is designed to treat particular aspects of the disease.

So how does treatment begin? The addict many times starts treatment with detox and a medically managed withdrawal. The body clears itself of addictive substances while consulting medical staff supervise the process for safety and comfort. Medications are designed to assist in the withdrawal from opioids, benzodiazepines and alcohol, and they are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially combined with counseling. Medications can help the brain return to normal functioning and prevent relapse and diminish cravings. You may be familiar with medications such as Suboxone, Vivitrol and Naltrexone. They work by blocking the effects of opioids such as heroin and may assist an individual in disengaging from drug seeking behaviors that are disruptive and have severe consequences.

Once you complete detox, you can continue the process of changing your life by participating in a structured therapy program. At Foundations San Diego, we can usher you through this journey with clinical expertise and compassion. Located at 3930 Fourth Ave. in Suite 301, we are a proud member of the Hillcrest community and offer integrated outpatient treatment for addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Foundations specializes in the treatment of addiction and underlying mental health issues that have been disruptive to an individual’s life. The treatment team at Foundations San Diego brings a compassionate and individualized approach to treatment. Our staff includes marriage and family therapists, an addiction psychiatrist, nurses, certified alcohol and drug counselors and a holistic practitioner group of massage therapists, acupuncturists, yoga and Tai Chi instructors. Our program is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a full Partial Hospitalization Program along with intensive outpatient. We accept insurance, and I invite you to call us at 619-485-6010 to schedule a tour and assessment for services if needed.

If you come to us, you will get all the information you need to understand your condition and get appropriate assistance. Our addiction psychiatrist, Michelle Banta, M.D., completes a thorough psychiatric assessment as part of a team approach to best serve you. Dr. Banta’s evaluation is part of a series of assessments, including intake with Rob Brockman, our intake coordinator, a therapeutic assessment with the assigned therapist and a nursing assessment. This information is the treatment guide for our staff to provide the approach that will fit your specific needs.

Foundations San Diego offers a full schedule throughout the week with therapeutic process groups each day, psychoeducational and experiential groups focused on subject matter related to relapse prevention, trauma, life skills, relationships and medical issues. Our program also offers free evening groups to the recovery community. Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m., we host SMART recovery. SMART is an alternative to traditional 12-Step programs. Thursday evenings, we host Yoga in 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR) at 5:30 p.m. and Refuge Recovery meetings at 7 p.m. Y12SR is a 12-Step meeting followed by a yoga session. Refuge Recovery is the Buddhist path to recovery and offers interested individuals another alternative to traditional 12-Step groups. These groups are free and located on-site at 3930 Fourth Ave. Suite 301 in Hillcrest.

We hope you’ll come see us. We’re ready when you are.

Patricia Bathurst, MFT is the director of Foundations San Diego, an outpatient recovery facility located in Hillcrest at 3930 Fourth Ave., Suite 301, San Diego, CA 92103. Ms. Bathurst is a certified advanced addiction counselor, as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Questions for Pat? Contact Foundations San Diego at 619-321-1575.

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Veep-orina? Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:00:18 +0000

Carly Fiorina

Judging political debates often has a Mean Girls feel to it. Like, you may think you like someone, but you could be wrong. You wouldn’t make a final decision without asking some friends, in this case the rest of the punditry, because the media coverage and spin have as much to do with the long term winner as anything that happened at the debate.

For instance, I thought Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the prime time debate by stealing the compassionate conservative mantle from former Gov. Jeb Bush, who seemed to shrink within his suit as the night wore on. I found Sen. Marco Rubio eloquent but forgettable, and was surprised when conventional wisdom declared him the winner of the main event.

Fortunately, the political cognoscenti agreed that Carly Fiorina won the day. She cleaned up in the early debate, with the now penniless Gov. Rick Perry coming in a distant second. Her presence was missed in the main debate, where the discussion of Donald Trump’s treatment of women and the race to the right on abortion cried out for the voice of a female Republican. Given the generally poor performance of the candidates in the main debate, some pundits declared Fiorina the winner of both debates, based on her performance in the early debate and the impact of her absence from the main stage.

Fiorina is already gaining support, with a recent Fox News poll placing her in seventh with 5 percent, a point ahead of Rubio, the alleged debate winner. She will likely make the main stage for the next debate, where a similarly strong performance could push her presidential polling higher. She may have helped herself most, however, in the vice-presidential sweepstakes.

While I’m willing to give Fiorina the first place trophy from the Fox News debate, I don’t think she can win the Republican nomination. Unlike Democrats, who are “Ready for Hillary” (if she isn’t crushed under the weight of her emails), Republicans are not ready to nominate a woman for president. More importantly, they are not ready to nominate someone who has never held elected office. That may sound crazy if you focus on Trump’s media attention, but it is sane based on the math.

The same Fox News poll has Trump in first at 25 percent and Dr. Ben Carson in second at 12 percent. Add in Fiorina’s 5 percent, and that is still only 42 percent for the non-politicians. Even if one of the three can consolidate that vote as candidates drop out, they will lose to whoever consolidates the establishment vote.

That candidate will need a vice-presidential nominee who can appease the anti-politician voters, add to the general election coalition, and take on Hillary Clinton. Some of Fiorina’s best lines are attacks on Clinton. If she can keep Republican women and some independents from defecting to Clinton, she would be worth far more than a choice designed to carry a specific state. (This rarely works and Clinton can win without Ohio and Florida.) She may not be able to win a majority of primary voters, but if she can make herself an acceptable champion of disaffected Republicans, she just might sew up the Veepstakes.

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When it’s time to shut up and listen Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:00:13 +0000

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18, I found myself at a protest in Los Angeles over the number of trans people, mostly trans women of color, who’ve been murdered this year so far. The latest was Tamera Dominguez in Phoenix, Ariz. who was run over multiple times in a church parking lot by an SUV. It was caught on surveillance tape.

By the most conservative count, it’s the 17th murder of a trans person this year; all but two have been trans people of color. These have given us trans specific Twitter and Facebook hashtags of #blacktranslivesmatter, #stoptransmurders, #translivesmatter, and #ICouldBeNext. A Fox media affiliate identified the murder victim as male – an all too common occurrence with trans homicide victims.

The same thing happened in Fresno with the killing of KC Huggins. In that case, the Fresno Police Department used physiology to identify the homicide victim – she was assumed to be engaging in prostitution, because she was dressed in clothing not associated with the gender assigned to her at birth. This in spite of how she’d recently attended trans support meetings and surveillance videos from three different cameras from three different businesses suggest she was likely targeted.

The Fresno Police Department assumed from the beginning that it wasn’t a hate crime.

Here in California, we recently had the Death With Dignity Act take effect which made sure death certificates for transgender Californians accurately reflected their lived identities. Apparently we need a second Death With Dignity Act for police departments specifically to consider that crime victims – including homicide victims – won’t automatically be assigned gender by police based on physiology alone, but that individuals who wear clothing usually not associated with genders assigned at birth be at least considered transgender when reported to media outlets, and have their homicides at least be considered as possible hate crimes as a default.

I talked to Transgender Law Center Staff Attorney Sasha Buchert about such a law recently; maybe something will come of the idea.

Which in an around about way leads me to the upcoming Stonewall movie. Trans people of color and gender nonconforming people of color have often been left out of the narratives of trans and LGBT history. Since I came out in 2003, I’ve been to every Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial service in San Diego, and every year those on the list from the U.S., well, there have been more from the U.S. of black and brown skin than of white skin. Yet, until the past few years, the national narratives of trans people seem to set by Christine Jorgensen – white, middle age transitioners who frankly share much of my personal narrative.

The trailer for the new Stonewall movie features a fictional white character named Danny who’s shown throwing the first brick that started the Stonewall Riots. There are varied accounts of who threw the first brick, but almost all don’t attribute it to a white youth. If one looks at the film’s character list on IMDB, one sees there are no actors for central Stonewall veterans of color who were trans or gender nonconforming: Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie and Miss Major.

The film, due to the trailer, has been accused of whitewashing and cis-washing the Stonewall Riots. The GSA-Network has a petition up, began by 18-year-old Pat Cordova-Goff, calling for a boycott of the film. She’s publicly offered to prescreen the film so that if the film isn’t a white- or cis-wash, as director Roland Emmerich has said it isn’t, she’ll call off the boycott, but so far he hasn’t taken her up on the offer.

Well, the speakers at the rally (that was hastily organized with four hours notice) I went to this past Tuesday night frequently rallied the crowd shouting “When we say ‘Trans!’ you say ‘Power!’ ‘Trans!’” to which the crowd of about 200 would reply “Power!” This was not a crowd that was to be easily sated.

I see trans people of color wanting their history told. I see trans people of color wanting their voices heard. I see trans people of color wanting the violence and murders of their peers to stop; I see them realizing they could be next.

As a white, middle age trans woman easily out-numbered by younger trans people of color, it was my time to shut up and listen.

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Commentary: Gay married men Sun, 16 Aug 2015 02:00:41 +0000

With the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, the number of gay married men will increase and decrease.

I was a gay married man in the sense that I was gay and married to a straight woman. The same applied to lesbians who were married to men. They were lesbian married women.

Aside from arranged lavender weddings, where a woman knowingly married a gay man to keep his sexuality a secret, gay men or men who questioned their homosexuality married women with the advice from physicians or psychologists that “it was only a phase” and they’d “get over it.”

The other advice I got was by a Washington DC psychologist who asked if I thought about sex all the time. I told her no, I did not think about sex all the time. She then told me I could not be gay because gays, she said, think of nothing but sex all the time. More bad medical advice.

An Episcopal priest told me since I was strong in the faith I could control the wickedness of homosexuality. Yes, this was an Episcopal priest in Washington DC.

I tried to follow my priest’s advice and “control the wickedness of homosexuality” but it didn’t work. I found myself pursuing gay men in professional circles. I was never the bar type. I met my partners in libraries, museums, film festivals, professional conventions and conferences, etc. Interestingly, most of my partners were other gay married men.

I realized there was a rather large population of gay married men in Washington and I saw an ad for a gay married men’s meeting in an office building at DuPont Circle. They held regular meetings on Friday evenings. The times I attended the audience reached 150 or more.

Some gay married men brought their wives. One young couple spoke enthusiastically to the crowd about “making our marriage work.” I met some single women there who suspected, they said, their husbands were gay. One woman said she was preparing herself for the time when she would ask her husband the Big Question: Are you gay?

Most of the men used only their first names at these meetings. Early in the program, the leader, who said he was a gay married man, announced one of the important rules.

“Never,” he said, “go up to anyone in public with their wives, kids, and girlfriends/fiancés and say you met them at the Gay Married Men’s meeting.” It happened to me once, he said. “I didn’t appreciate it.” He said he told his wife he went to the meeting to support a gay friend who was married.

In other words, all the men in the group were urged to keep the deception alive. Enjoy a secret closeted gay life while keeping the wife, kids, and girlfriends in the dark.

There was never any discussion about how the gay married man could tell the wife, kids, and girlfriends/fiancés he was gay. It seemed to me this would have been helpful to some men like me. It would have also been helpful to have a psychologist there to talk about becoming honest with one’s sexuality with their family.

Instead, it was all about how to conceal, deceive, and lie to one’s wife and kids. After each meeting ended, the gay married men converged on the nearest and filthiest gay bars in DuPont Circle. I never joined the crowd.

I found the Gay Married Men’s meetings unhealthy experiences, so I found other support in church and with professionals who had experience with the issue.

With same-sex marriage legal nationally, though still contested in some states, gay men will continue to marry straight women. A gay friend in Washington recently did so.

My gay friend is in his 60s and in poor health with no insurance and a spent inheritance. His wife, in her 90s, is healthy and with “Rolls Royce” insurance, my gay friend said, that covers all his health ailments. They are now happily married. In another case, two straight men I know married for similar financial and insurance reasons with the support of their children.

People have and always will marry for love. The love option is now open to same sex couples. Other people will marry to help a friend in need. That is love, too. I pity the people who do not see love in marriages based on affairs of the heart or to help friends in need.

As long as people know what they are getting into, let marriage in 2015 do what it has always done: unite people.

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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GOP debate and the Kasich Moment Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:58:36 +0000

John Kasich

During the Fox News telecast of the first GOP Presidential candidates’ debate, I gasped as Ohio Governor John Kasich, a former U.S. Congressman and close political ally of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, admitted he had attended a same-sex marriage.

Kasich, alone among his fellow candidates, actually admitted he didn’t hate LGBT people or the new tradition of same-sex marriage. This Kasich “Gay May Be Okay” moment earned the youthful looking governor some face time on various news programs and print space in the blogosphere repeating his GOP heresy for the world to evidence. He spoke with clarity and sounded like the Political Wise Man of the GOP pack.

Imagine for a moment the ten GOP candidates and their range of view (intentionally singular) on same-sex marriage. Kasich gives it a nod of Buckeye acceptance. Dr. Ben Carson, when once asked about same-sex marriage, said bestiality was not a relationship with which he was comfortable.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is telling people who will listen to him their states do not have to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing marriage equality across the nation.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was declared not sufficiently conservative when he hired some gay campaign staffers. Religious conservatives shuddered at the thought Bush, the once perceived frontrunner for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination, might be soft on gays.

Former U.S. Senator Rick “Google Problem” Santorum was not among the ten GOP presidential candidates in the televised debate from Cleveland. Mr. Santorum is not LGBT friendly. He once compared gay relationships as akin to “man on dog” relationships. Ergo, Santorum’s Google Problem. Internet permanency and the Urban Dictionary had a way of shutting Santorum’s hate speech and forever attaching something distasteful to the esteemed name Santorum.

Also missing from Fox TV cameras was former Texas Governor Rick Perry. He believes homosexuality is a sickness. An animal science graduate of Texas A&M University, Perry has a long history of opposing everything and everybody gay.  He is the type to hold on to long discredited views on psychology, LGBT people and animal science.

The Donald made offensive statements about women and had to defend himself on Fox. He further offended by suggesting questioner Megyn Kelly was menstruating while asking him tough questions. Still Trump is the GOP leader for 2016. Senator Rand Paul, author of “Government Bullies,” appeared sedated during the debate. Rumor has it he may soon drop out if he does not catch political fire soon.

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio earned praise for mentioning his humble upbringing in Miami. Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Sarah Palin Tea Party acolyte, seemed oddly lost in the wake of calling his Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar. Perhaps Cruz was in a regretful frame of mind. A few days later, he went on the attack against gays, which was a return to normal for him.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, I felt, had a good night during the debate. I feel Christie, like Obama and Bill Clinton, can evolve on gay issues and same-sex marriage. The thing I find refreshing about Christie, and I am serious about this, is that if you swear at him, he will swear back at you.

I love that news clip of Christie telling a heckler to “Sit down and shut up.” If that is not the sign of a healthy political mind, it is the sign of a healthy New Jersey political mind. It is not a statement from the scholarly minds of a Bill Bradley or a Tom Keane political mind, but it is a different era and Chris Christie is a man with a mouth and a New Jersey temper. He reminds me of a late uncle from Sayreville, New Jersey.

Therefore, the gay gasp moment of the first GOP presidential debate of 2016 was the Kasich Gay May Be Okay Moment. The audience applauded Kasich. It is good news the other nine Republicans heard the applause.

It is also good news Christie did not shout for the audience to shut up. This maybe further indication Christie can evolve on gay issues, as Kasich seems to be doing.  If only The Donald would evolve on women.

The Kasich Moment represents small progress for the GOP. In the immediate aftermath of the debate, it did not propel Kasich to frontrunner status. It did help him politically, though. It could propel him to VP status on the 2016 GOP presidential ticket. If the presidential candidate is Bush, the GOP may be coming in from too many years in the dark wilderness on LGBT issues.

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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ENDA would end Jesse Helms’ legacy Sun, 09 Aug 2015 01:45:00 +0000

Jesse Helms

Late GOP U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, popularly known as “Senator No” because he opposed federal spending except for his precious tobacco program for North Carolina growers and manufacturers, was fearless when it came to demagoguing and humiliating the LGBT community over matters like marriage equality, now settled by GOP Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee to the court.

In 2015, it is time for Congress to end the reign of workplace bigotry for LGBT employees Helms nurtured during his five senate terms, 1973-2003, and end his legacy of legislative hate of the LGBT community. Unlike many LGBT activists, I know firsthand how Helms hated gay and lesbian workers.

On July 19, 1994, Helms, enraged over my “promoting the gay agenda” as a Foreign Service Officer with the government, took to the Senate floor and CSPAN cameras to condemn me for my effort to make the federal workplace a bit more fair for LGBT workers, long subjected to management hostility, discrimination, physical abuse, unfair terminations, blackmail, and poor working conditions that bordered on slavery.

Helms was a passionate hater of his fellow man and the U.S. Congress is no place for someone with a hate agenda. On the July date, Helms tried to have me fired for “recruiting homosexuals” for jobs he wanted only straights to have. The Senate Chaplain, in his opening prayer, said as much.

“Almighty God,” Rev. Richard Halverson preached, “We need you when tempers rise, emotions boil, frustration enervates, and suppressed anger explodes.” I do not believe Jesse Helms was listening that day as he later exploded on me with hatred like I had never experienced. He called me a “pervert” with “twisted values.” Those words, which bother me still, are preserved forever in the Congressional Record.

Though I was diagnosed with depression, I vowed to get mad, get over it, and get even by a lifetime of activism dedicated to workplace equality for LGBT personnel. For me, that means Congressional passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act that Helms despised and vowed over twenty years ago would never pass Congress. ENDA has not passed. Helms did pass on July 4, 2008. His hateful legacy of workplace discrimination against LGBT workers remains a reality but its days are numbered.

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision that state bans of same-sex marriage are not legal, an important step toward full LGBT equality is nearer. It is time that families be families without regard to sexuality of the family members. Likewise, it is time for all workers to be treated fairly so they can support their families.

It is time for Congress to make ENDA the law of the land and end the economic suffering discriminatory employers have heaped on their LGBT workers for decades. I suffered economically from the discrimination Helms heaped on me from the U.S. Senate in 1994. Other senators are doing the same to other LGBT workers in Washington and across the country by delaying passage of ENDA.

Helms never met a gay or lesbian he liked, especially me. As a government economist and diplomat, I managed a program of work to help fellow gays and lesbians effectively compete for positions historically denied them, not because of their skills but because of their sexuality. It was not right in 1994 and it is not right in 2015.

My work was “the right side of personnel management,” “the right side of a productive government workplace,” and “the right side of economic history,” to paraphrase an overused phrase. My work was also on “the wrong side of Jesse Helms.” I consider that a great honor.

There is much injustice in the world and it can take years to address it effectively, even with laws to end it. It ought to take only a short time for Congress to pass ENDA, as it would be aid to the economy to end legalized discrimination and the pain, suffering, and heavy social costs it brings to our country.

Congress should end discrimination against LGBT workers in 2015. The time for tactical senate delays to this just law by the likes of Jesse Helms are over. It is time for dignity in the workplace. It is time for ENDA.

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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Is Faulconer San Diego’s last Republican mayor? Thu, 06 Aug 2015 19:20:16 +0000

Nicole Murray Ramirez planting a pear tree at the Memorial Garden in Hamilton, Canada.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer is on his way to a very smooth re-election as every possible major Democratic officeholder has bowed out of the mayoral race and Faulconer continues to be polling in high numbers when it comes to his approval rating by San Diegans. This is a testament to his non-partisan approach in many of his administration dealings. Faulconer is a moderate Republican and probably the only GOP leader with any possible shot at statewide office in California and that talk has been going on since he was first elected but the mayor remains totally focused on America’s Finest City.

San Diego indeed has changed since the days when President Richard Nixon called us his favorite city; from being a Republican stronghold to now Democrats holding a growing lead in voter registration.

I have had the privilege to have served and advised the last seven mayors of San Diego and two interim mayors; yes, a majority Republican who were supportive of many LGBT civil rights issues. The last two Republican mayors, Jerry Sanders and Kevin Faulconer, were strong advocates nationally for marriage equality and their administrations had many LGBT appointees and much LGBT representation and these LGBT San Diegans were mostly Democrats.

So now that we all know that Mayor Faulconer is on his way to a probable easy re-election Democratic leaders are wisely looking to 2020 to recapture the mayor’s seat. Top names include Todd Gloria, Toni Atkins and Lorena Gonzalez; but now statewide office could be in the future for Atkins and Gonzalez – lieutenant governor? There is most certainly a second tier of possible strong Democratic candidates for 2020, but what about the Republicans?

It would take a very special type of Republican to be elected mayor of San Diego, in the mold of a Jerry Sanders or Kevin Faulconer. Top possibilities I would say are Mark Kersey, Chris Cate, Brian Maienschein and Dan McAlister. Cate is a proud person of color (Filipino) and one to watch as he has a very bright future ahead of him. But another possible moderate Republican could come out of the Lincoln Club – a viable, credible business person.

Yes, you can put a fork in this 2016 mayoral election as it’s about done before it’s begun. Now 2020 will be the election to watch. Let the maneuvering begin!

Bob Ottilie for the ethics commission

The mayor and City Council needs to appoint Bob Ottilie to the City’s Ethics Commission which badly needs his proven leadership and independence. And, the commission’s Executive Director Stacey Fullhorst needs to resign; she thinks she is the chair of this commission and sadly has run it for years. We need commissioners to stand up and become leaders not followers. Bob Ottilie is the right San Diegan for this commission, period.

About planting a tree In Canada

In 1969 when some gay Americans were fighting back against police harassment and discrimination in New York at the Stonewall Inn the prime minister of Canada was signing the first government homosexual civil rights bill in North America. Interestingly, the son of that very prime minister was marching this past weekend in Vancouver’s annual Pride parade and Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps and be elected prime minister of Canada in October.

In my speech this past Saturday before LGBT activists from all over Canada I called this great country “the equality nation” as it has been first in gay marriage, gays in the military, health care for all and LGBT civil rights legislation.

But for me, the highlight of my five day stay was being asked to plant a pear tree in Hamilton at the Memorial Garden located in one of the most beautiful, oldest and largest (over 130 acres) LGBT resorts in North America. A plaque was dedicated to mark the occasion and it was such an honor and a memory that I will always cherish.

I will be returning to Canada again in two weeks, this time to the city of Edmonton.

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The Truth project Thu, 06 Aug 2015 19:20:00 +0000

At 14, I first awakened my own truth that I was trans. I realized I was growing the wrong secondary sex characteristics; I realized I wanted the ones that were for females, and not for males.

Shortly after realizing that, I talked myself into believing I was a crossdresser. I wasn’t attracted to boys, and being a boy, well back in the 1970s, the gender identity clinics and the Pentecostal Church my parents and I attended in the San Fernando Valley had a very heteronormative view of sexuality. I couldn’t be trans and attracted to girls, so I tried the bulk of my life trying to be the man I wasn’t. I lived 30 years in the closet before finally coming out as Autumn in February 2003.


Truth is a new campaign rolled out Tuesday, Aug. 4 by the Transgender Law Center and GSA Network that they describe as “a national storytelling campaign that aims to build empathy, understanding and a movement for transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families to share their stories in their own words and in their own way.”

“Hi’ I’m Danny, and I um … Wow. I just turned 15 like a month ago,” said gender nonconforming teen Danny Reinan, in a video for the project. “I go to Avalon school – It’s a Charter School in St. Paul.

“The school was very big and intimidating,” Danny continued. “And I knew I wasn’t a girl before then, but that was when I really began realizing like ‘I really feel uncomfortable with this. Like, this isn’t right. This really, really isn’t right.’”


“Everyone has a story, and every story is valid and speaks its own truth,” said Tone Lee-Bias, (pronouns: they/them/theirs), 18, from Sacramento, as to why trans youth telling their stories are so important. “Allowing an intimate, personal narrative to be fully exposed to the world can be scary and nervewracking, but also is an enlightening and self-empowering action. In my experience, sharing my story not only educates others, but in the process also assists in my own self-healing. Every time I tell my story, I gain more and more confidence, strength and power over my experiences as an 18-year-old, queer, demiboy of color. I realize how sharing these stories make such a huge difference for those trying to understand, and maybe an even bigger one for those who can relate. Speaking out is the act of purposefully putting oneself in a vulnerable position in order to bring awareness to the issues our various communities face. This vulnerability and transparency of sharing our stories is what allows for new, authentic connections and growth.”

The Truth project encompasses mediums such as videos and selfies, and platforms such as Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The project goals seek to have the participants stretch across the myriad of trans self-identities.

When I tell a story about my life, I hope that for but a brief moment you see the world through my eyes. When trans youth tell their stories, what the Truth project organizers are hoping for are stories that follow this guidance: “What everyone can understand and connect with is emotion and experience. Instead of using shorthand or ‘insider’ phrases, try to describe your identity in terms of your experience. For example, instead of just saying ‘I’m a transgender boy,’ you could say ‘I’m a transgender boy, which means everyone thought I was a girl when I was born, but I’ve always known on the inside that I’m a boy.’ Or instead of saying ‘I’m genderqueer,’ you could say ‘I was assigned male at birth, but being a boy never felt right to me, and neither did being a girl. I’ve always felt that I’m somewhere in between.’”


We really can change the world when we share our truths.

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The first Republican presidential primary debate: Bring it on! Wed, 05 Aug 2015 23:20:04 +0000

Tuesday, Fox News announced the 10 participants in the first Republican presidential primary debate: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich. With that question answered, we can start prognosticating about the issues and staging. Below are some questions to consider when watching tonight (or reading recaps tomorrow).

What happened at 2? The not-so-top-ten get the stage for an hour at 2 p.m. (Pacific). Don’t be surprised if issues, attacks and gaffes from the early show find their way into the main event at 6 p.m.

Will anyone actually debate? With 120 minutes spread over 10 candidates (and the moderators), there will be a temptation to use the debate as a staccato stump speech. Directly engaging the competition is high risk/high reward, so expect any fireworks to be set off by the lower polling candidates.

What will Trump do? As the poll leader, Trump will be center stage. Will he use the spotlight to toss rhetorical grenades or show that he can be a more traditional candidate? Pundits are suggesting Trump play the professional, but he’s gotten where he is by bucking conventional wisdom.

Who will attack Trump? Rick Perry has been Trump’s loudest critic on the campaign trail, but he didn’t make the cut. Those polling in single digits may risk attacking Trump just for extra camera time. If Bush or Walker take on Trump, it suggests they are no longer so certain he’ll collapse under his own ego.

Will Carly Fiorina have a champion? Leaving the only female candidate out of the main debate is an optical nightmare for Republicans. Advocating for Fiorina enough to woo her supporters without helping her get into the next debate is a tough needle to thread, but the upsides are sufficiently tempting that someone will probably try.

What crazy promises will be made? In 2012, Jeb Bush chided the Republican field for saying that they wouldn’t trade $10 in spending cuts for $1 in new taxes. My guess is that the moderators (and Ted Cruz) will push everyone to promise one or more of the following: a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage; a government shutdown before funding Planned Parenthood; no path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Will Bush, or anyone, stand up against the hard right to better position themselves for the general election?

Who breaks through? There will likely be two success stories. The ticket from the Fox News undercard to the next main event probably goes to Fiorina if she turns in a strong anti-Hillary performance, though Perry may grab it with a mix of righteous indignation and sympathy. Someone on the main stage will go from forgettable to relevant, most likely Christie or Kasich by taking on Trump or Bush, respectively.

Who underperforms? Trump is in danger of being the dud for not mellowing out for the pundits, or for doing so and losing his angry base. If Trump and Bush don’t make news, expect Rubio, Paul or both to get labelled as “having missed their opportunity.”

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Transgender troops: Hurry up and wait six months Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:00:24 +0000

With the Defense Department’s recent decision to begin a process to lift its ban on open service for transgender troops, important progress, though at a snail’s pace, is coming to military foxholes and latrines.

It is an announcement certain to figure prominently among traditionally anti-LGBT politicians seeking the 2016 presidential nomination in the Republican Party. Despite medical evidence to the contrary, many politicians and transphobes consider transgender people “sick.”

At one point, society and a sizable segment of the medical community thought gays and lesbians “sick,” as in mentally ill. Similarly, society once held the same view the physically disabled were “sick” based on armchair psychology that any person with a disability must also be mentally ill. Popular culture images fed both long outdated views.

Today’s view is that those who claim others, like the transgendered, are “sick” are themselves “sick” with, to put it mildly, bias against the trans community. To put it more accurately and bluntly, they are sick with hate.

It’s no coincidence that the Defense Department’s plan to fully sexually modernize all branches of the military comes as public opinion for the transgender community is favorably influenced by Caitlyn Jenner’s graceful and passionate public transitioning. When Congress holds the inevitable hearings on lifting the transgender ban, I expect Olympic Gold Medalist Ms. Jenner will go to Washington to change political views on transgender military service.

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the Defense Department announced “creation of a working group” that will work over six months “to study the implications of lifting the ban,” Washington sources report. In truth, the department has been studying the issue for years and will hopefully not morph six months into six years.

The most fundamental implication of lifting the military’s transgender exclusion is that it fulfills the promise of our nation’s Founders that all are equal, ­­­and those who wish to wear the uniform to serve America’s cause are welcome to do so regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

According to a Defense Department statement, the working group will commence its work “with the presumption transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.” This translates to a limited lifting of the transgender ban.

Why a limited lifting? Why partial equality? I expect answers to these questions will be as perverse as the questions themselves. “[E]xcept where objective, practical impediments are identified” should have ended with “if any.” Since it did not, this could mean a Go Slow Approach to transgender military service.

One part of the Defense announcement that was completely accurate dealt with further sexual modernization of the military. “The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

The long fight for open military service for gays and lesbians should have always included open transgender service. It is a shame on the Defense Department and political leaders that transgender soldiers have been treated as an undesirable class based on “sick” stereotypes for so long.

The U.S. military should celebrate openness, honesty, equality, and dignity for all troops. The outdated and unnecessary ban on open transgender military service should end in 2015.

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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The Democratic primary field: And now there are five Thu, 30 Jul 2015 16:00:23 +0000

The first Republican primary debate is next Thursday. The winners are already clear: Fox News and pollsters. With Fox News limiting the debate to the top ten candidates in an average of national surveys, every release of data will generate clicks for the network and the number crunchers. If Fox News is smart, they’ll roll out the final participant list in a LeBron-esque “Decision” special with a Family Feud board. While we wait for the big reveal, it’s worth looking at the Democratic primary field, which has quietly expanded to five candidates.

Hillary Clinton. Most pundits call the former secretary of state and senator from New York the “frontrunner” preceded by adjectives on a spectrum from current to dominant to prohibitive. She leads her closest competition by 40 points (Real Clear Politics Average) in national primary polls, and maintains smaller leads in Iowa and New Hampshire. Despite a run of negative coverage about her email server, she bests all Republican candidates (well, those of the 16 who she has been polled against) by at least four points.

Her only speed bump was a spate of Quinnipiac polls showing most major Republican candidates beating her in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia. On the upside, she can win without those swing states if she keeps the rest of President Obama’s map and Florida or Ohio.

Bernie Sanders. Nature abhors a vacuum, so the Vermont senator stepped into the space to Clinton’s left created when Sen. Elizabeth Warren refused to run. Few thought an Independent and proud socialist with hair crazier than Donald Trump would have much impact, but Sanders appears to have captured the hearts of the progressives. He has narrowed the gap against Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire and now also defeats many Republicans in general election match-ups.

Democratic liberals have fallen in love with someone in every recent election: Sen. Bill Bradley (2000), Gov. Howard Dean (2004), and Sen. Barack Obama (2008). What set President Obama apart was his ability to add other constituencies to his primary coalition, most notably African American Democrats. (Clinton was also out- maneuvered by Obama on delegate math, a problem she will no doubt fix.) Should Sanders win in largely white Iowa and New Hampshire, he still will still need to break Clinton’s hold on Latinos, African Americans, women and labor. Threatening to leave his Netroots panel when confronted with #BlackLivesMatter activists didn’t help.

Martin O’Malley. The former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor was supposed to be the liberal alternative to Clinton. He stumbled out of the gate in 2014 when his lieutenant governor lost to a Republican in deep blue Maryland. Then the Freddie Gray case put the spotlight on law enforcement in Baltimore, reaching back to his time as mayor. To top it off, he may have handled Netroots worse than Sanders, telling activists that “white lives matter” and “all lives matter.” Somewhere in his political career, he might have learned that making a technically accurate statement doesn’t make up for missing the point.

Jim Webb. The former Virginia senator appears to be running to both sides of Clinton, to the extent that he is running at all. As a veteran and former Navy secretary, he is credibly to her left on avoiding military intervention, but somewhat incredibly to her, and the party’s, right on social issues, as evidenced by his odd comments on the Confederate flag. It will be interesting to see how he handles the “Why do you want to be president?” question given that his disdain for politics led him to leave the Senate after one term.

Lincoln Chafee. Chafee held a Rhode Island Senate seat as a liberal Republican (1999-2007), lost re-election to Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, successfully ran for governor as an Independent (2010-2014), and became a Democrat (2013) but chose not to seek re-election. So Chafee is running for “his” party’s presidential nomination in his first race as a Democrat. That would probably disqualify Chafee, except that Sanders is doing the same thing. Chafee’s bigger problem is that the three preceding sentences may be all you know about him.

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Finishing the work for dignity: Let’s end workplace discrimination in 2015 Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:48:32 +0000

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, in his historic June 26, 5-4 majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, used the word “dignity” nine times. The decision ended state same-sex marriage bans in favor of same-sex wedding bands. Media headlined “dignity” across the nation and the world, forever associating the word with the LGBT struggle for equality.

Same-sex families can now fully realize the long delayed promise of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” for all Americans contained in the Declaration of Independence. Five Supreme Court Justices found the U.S. Constitution afforded same-sex couples the dignity marriage bestows on them and their families.

Newspaper headlines across the country and the globe likewise hailed the dignity of the Supreme Court decision in recognizing same-sex families with all the rights and responsibilities of other families. Now families will be families with dignity and without regard to sexuality.

In one sense, the sexuality war is over; in another sense, it has just begun. It is not, though, politically wise for members of Congress, collectively or individually, to promote an agenda to deny Americans their dignity. Some will try; but they should listen to the wisdom of the Supreme Court on the dignity of marriage and two American leaders on the dignity of work.

Political and religious leaders from former President Ronald Reagan to civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have spoken about the dignity of work. Their words are important as Congress considers ending employment discrimination against LGBT workers by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

From his 1980 presidential acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, Reagan said, “Work and family are at the center of our lives, the foundation of our dignity as a free people.” Every member of Congress should consider Reagan’s fundamental wisdom and fairness for all American workers and families.

Employment was a key element of Dr. King’s civil rights campaigns across the country and his historic 1963 march on Washington for jobs and freedom. In March 1968, Dr. King said, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Workplace equality will certainly motivate workers to greater productivity, career satisfaction, and greater success for themselves, their families, and employers.

Both President Reagan and Dr. King understood Washington and the courts had important roles to play in equality, freedom, and employment. Associate Justice Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by Reagan and his emphasis on dignity reflects his understanding of the legacies of Reagan and Dr. King.

Thus, it is in America that labor and marriage strengthen individuals, families, and our fundamental American values of fairness and dignity. Same-sex families now have national protections against efforts to deny them their Constitutional rights to marry the person of their choice.

The battle for dignity and pride for LGBT relationships began at the Stonewall Inn in New York in 1969, when police harassment produced riots. The Stonewall Riots birthed LGBT Pride and the long walk to the dignity of our relationships GOP Justice Kennedy vocalized for the world on June 26, 2015.

The late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican, once called me a “pervert” in the Congressional Record, on July 19, 1994, for promoting workplace fairness for LGBT workers in the federal sector. Helms never offered any dignity to gays and lesbians, only crude redneck insults and heartless laughter at gay men, sick with AIDS, and “militant” lesbians. Helms voted to confirm Kennedy to the Supreme Court. What a perverse chapter in the legacy of the bigot Jesse Helms.

What remains now for Congress is the important and dignified work of passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has lingered in perpetual debate in Congress for over 20 years thanks to Helms and his followers.

Helms’ body lies in his Tar Heel state but his ugliness, bias, and hate toward innocent and hardworking LGBT people haunts the halls of Congress. The place should be fumigated with dignity to remove all the taint Helms bequeathed the institution and his followers.

Former President Reagan and Dr. King were giants for vocalizing the dignity of work. Helms was an evil, narrow-minded bigot. For members of Congress who want to honor the dignified spirits of Reagan and Dr. King, they should find a way to extend workplace equality, fairness, and dignity to all Americans without regard to sexuality. They should work together to pass ENDA in 2015.


Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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A Bob Filner tell-all book? Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:52:30 +0000

Nicole Murray Ramirez with Rep. John McCrostie at the Idaho state capital

Yes, it was in this column that I wrote that former Mayor Bob Filner would be writing a book and now comes word that it could be nearly finished! My good sources tell me that the possibilities of this “tell-all” book being a reality are very good and that there should be some very nervous former and current elected officials.

I have never hidden the fact that I was a strong and loyal supporter of Bob Filner since his school board days, City council, Congress and mayor. No one can deny that he did a lot of good and important things for many communities always standing up for them including the Latino, Filipino, LGBT, veteran and African American communities. (He was a young “freedom rider” in the 1960s in the South.)

Bob Filner has admitted and apologized for his conduct against some women and we all agree that it was totally unacceptable and indefensible but I believe that a man should be judged and remembered for the good and bad and Filner’s record of many decades was an outstanding one.

I and many other men became more educated about the issue of sexual harassment and all men were put on notice. But that being said, as I have stated in this column a few years ago there were a lot of hypocrites and, yes, liars especially among some Democratic Party officials and elected office holders and they know who they are and they should indeed be nervous!

Will Atkinson drop out of the congressional race?

It has become well known in Republican Party circles that many feel that 52nd congressional candidate Jacquie Atkinson should drop out of the race. She has only raised $40,000 so far and Scott Peters has raised over half a million (former 52nd candidate Carl DeMaio raised $500,000 in a month).

Sad to say that Atkinson’s campaign has been very lackluster and some Republicans feel she should drop out of her congressional campaign and run for the Third City Council seat.

I and many others respect Jacquie who is a decorated “wounded warrior” Marine veteran but as I stated before in this column, with all due respect, I have always believed that she was not ready to run for Congress (she has never held public office) and I hope she seriously thinks about dropping out of the 52nd congressional race. Someday Jacquie could be a great candidate for public office, but not now.

People, politics and opinions

It is also well known that many Democratic Party leaders feel that Anthony Bernal should not have entered the Third Council District race and that Chris Ward will definitely be our next councilman.

Once again, let me make it clear that I respect and like Anthony as he is a good decent young man but as I told him he should have run in the Ninth not the Third District.

A Datamar poll of some of the most connected and aware political minds in San Diego asked who people think will be elected in District 3: Chris Ward 84.2 and Bernal 0. District 9: Ricardo Flores 47.4 Georgette Gomez 21.1. City Attorney: Gil Cabrera 36.8 Rafael Castellanos 26.3. Council District 1: Barbara Bay 63.2 Ray Ellis 26.3. District 7: Scott Sherman 84.2 Justin DeCesare 10.5 and will the Chargers be in San Diego in 2020: 73.7 No!

The Imperial Valley LGBT Resource Center has opened its doors in El Centro (1073 Ross Ave., Suite D (760-592-4066). Congrats to Rosa Diaz and the new board of directors.

Robert Gleason (upper right) with husband Marc Matys and their children

Many of us attended the annual “Father of the Year” gala at the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla and this year Robert Gleason became the first gay man honored in the history of this wonderful gala dinner. Of course, his husband Marc Matys was also deservedly spotlighted.

Last week was a very busy time for me with lunches with civic leaders Nancy Chase, Mel Katz and Lorena Gonzalez. And, by the way, Nancy recently got appointed to the prestigious National Advisory Board of the President Harry Truman Project.

Yes, I missed my first Pride parade in 41 years as I had a long time commitment in Idaho which is about 95 percent Caucasian and I sure did know I was a minority. By the way, see what happens when I miss my first Pride event; the gods cry out with buckets of tears!

Candidates who had their own contingents in this year’s Pride parade: Georgette Gomez, Justin De Cesare, Gil Cabrera, Barbara Bry, Kevin Faulconer, Chris Ward and Todd Gloria. And the winner for best and most colorful contingent: Ninth Council District candidate Ricardo Flores.

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Managing yourself through recovery Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:52:18 +0000

Early recovery! What does this mean to the LGBT individual who has made the decision to free him or herself from the addictive and abusive cycles of substance use? You’ve decided to embrace a new way of living. You’ve participated in local self-help groups, entered and perhaps completed treatment and have set the intention to live your life without the shame, guilt and trappings of addiction. You have become the architect of reclaiming your authentic self, and you are building a foundation for living without the use of substances. An addiction-free lifestyle is enticing for any member of our community, but the risk of going back to addictive patterns of use is very high, and relapse is not uncommon. Relapse is a return to problem behaviors related to substances. When you’re new to recovery, your risk of relapse will decrease as your capacity to self-regulate increases, and you’ll have a greater ability to manage disruptive emotions and behaviors.

In this stage of early recovery, you cease your daily routine of stopping off at the local bar for happy hour or dropping by the homes of using friends. You establish a new daily structure that includes paying attention to balance when it comes to healthy eating, exercise and managing stress. You also have regular meetings with treatment professionals and your community-based support groups. Recovery for you is a process, not an event, and connections to others who want to embrace an addiction-free lifestyle are essential. You understand that it’s predictable for irrational thoughts to re-emerge quickly and justify a relapse. You find it very important to maintain your newfound sobriety by reaching out and discussing these irrational thoughts with therapists, counselors, peers and support group members. Remembering the negative consequences of past substance use and developing new coping strategies becomes a valuable tool in maintaining early sobriety. It is not unusual for motivation to stay clean and sober to rise and fall in recovery. You need support! The dedicated professional staff of your treatment program, along with your peers in recovery, become your biggest cheerleaders. We are here for the good days and the bad days.

No doubt, once you’ve made the decision to quit using alcohol and other drugs, your path will not be easy. You may find yourself elated, free and on an emotional rollercoaster. In the past, when you’ve faced social situations and challenging emotions, the solution seemed to be found in using substances. Now, without this as an option, you have to make the decision to stay on the road to recovery in spite of your challenges. The journey of recovery is crowded with very common and usual dangers. Past acquaintances who happily joined you in drinking and drugging do not seem to understand the severity of your problem and continue to invite you out and offer alcohol and other drugs to you. Quick trips after work to your local bar to join your friends frequently jeopardize your recovery and can confuse the reality of your new lifestyle. Overconfidence, disappointment and justifying old behaviors can frequently lead to relapse for the most well-intended person seeking continual sobriety.

Relapse triggers can put you at risk for a return to alcohol and drug abuse. Powerful emotional states and compromised physical conditions can put your sobriety in danger. For the LGBT community, we may face additional feelings of discrimination and rejection by others. The feelings of sadness and isolation felt by the LGBT community have far too many times pushed our community members to self-soothe with substances. As you pursue recovery, you’re making a brave decision to abandon substances as a way to gain control. To succeed in life, you must take action, be willing to accept responsibility and give up alcohol and drug abuse.

In our Hillcrest community and in the surrounding areas, many helpful options are available to you. Making a phone call to a trusted friend or family member and making a phone call to a treatment program can be the beginning of a lifetime of balance. Along with traditional programs, our community offers alternatives. The outpatient program at Foundations San Diego offers SMART recovery meetings on Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. and Refuge Recovery (a Buddhist path to recovery) on Thursdays at 7 p.m.

We welcome you to call our local number at 619-849-6010 to get a free assessment. You can do this, and we can help!

Patricia Bathurst, MFT is the director of Foundations San Diego, an outpatient recovery facility located in Hillcrest at 3930 Fourth Ave., Suite 301, San Diego, CA 92103. Ms. Bathurst is a certified advanced addiction counselor, as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Questions for Pat? Contact Foundations San Diego at 619-321-1575.

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The Planned Parenthood videos prove nothing Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:52:15 +0000

Like most medical students, I took anatomy in my first year, spending hours dissecting a cadaver with five colleagues. Every five weeks, our full day of testing ended with a practical exam. It began by circulating through a room full of bodies guessing the name or function of parts identified with a pin and ended with an oral presentation of our knowledge using our own cadaver. Immediately after, we crossed the breezeway to have a beer from the keg kindly provided by our medical school.

After one particularly tough exam, twelve of us went to Chili’s, where we were seated at a long table in a bustling wing of the restaurant. Fifteen minutes later, it was empty except for us. I don’t know if patrons asked to be moved or the hostess just stopped seating people there, but I’m fairly sure our medical conversation was the reason.

I still talk differently in the company of other health care professionals, though I’ve learned how not to clear out a restaurant. Some of it is jargon and shorthand, but there is also a certain relief in being able to say things simply and factually, without someone yelling “Ick, gross!” or expecting me to share their disgust or discomfort at something I see every day or have been trained to take in my stride.

I’ve watched the video from the Center for Medical Progress’ sting operation against Planned Parenthood, and frankly all I see is a physician who thought she was among professional colleagues, which is understandable given that’s what they professed to be. She wasn’t disparaging of her patients, which is the part of back room chatter that does need to be eliminated. She simply told the blunt truth about procedures to people she had every reason to believe could handle it.

If that truth exposed illegal activity it should be investigated, but that seems unlikely if these were the most damning eight minutes in hours of tape. There may be ethical discussions regarding the impact of tissue saving maneuvers on the patient’s health, but it’s doubtful they would be retroactively actionable. Instead, the doctor’s biggest crimes may have been clearing out the table behind her (hard to prove since the time stamp comes and goes) and being able to swill wine and eat while talking about abortions. As uncomfortable as that might make some viewers, it doesn’t make the physician evil.

More importantly, it doesn’t negate the fact that millions of women depend on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive health, or that Planned Parenthood may be the only provider of safe, legal, abortions in some areas. Somehow, that didn’t make it into the video. Neither did the fact that abortions are a small fraction of the services Planned Parenthood provides, and tissue donation an even smaller portion.

The video isn’t journalism. It’s propaganda. Political strategists who don’t like abortions lied about who they were, made a physician from Planned Parenthood feel comfortable enough to bluntly talk shop, secretly taped her, edited the tape, and mixed in some old news footage and legal quotes so like-minded people would believe she admitted to something illegal and moderates would be grossed out. They’ve proven nothing. It’s a slick strategy, one they probably cooked up while swilling wine with colleagues and saying far more disturbing things about women and their doctors than was ever said about fetal organs. If only we had it on tape.

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I don’t want any more trans dead to bless Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:52:07 +0000

Within the past week, A 16th trans person (or 10th, depending on who’s doing the counting and what criteria are being used) has been killed since the first of this year, and all but one has been a person of color.

This time it was a 25-year-old black woman named India Clark, found beaten to death in Tampa Park Tuesday, July 21.

We’ve had three trans youth commit suicide in the past months here in San Diego County. I received a pink, white and blue bumble bee at the T Spot booth in remembrance of Kyler, one of the three youth.

I participated as a substitute angel in the die-in portion of the trans contingent in the San Diego Pride parade. One of the designated angels couldn’t make it, and another was late, so I filled in. I was the only other one in the contingent dressed in white, so I stood in. The angels blessed those in the contingent who stood in for the dead; it wasn’t lost on me that I was the only white angel; I was the only angel who wasn’t a person of color of the three taking on the role of angels.

This doesn’t take into account all of the trans people who face close calls with, or actually experience, violence in their lives for being trans. This doesn’t take into account all those who consider suicide but don’t follow through, or attempt suicide but fortunately don’t succeed, with transgender experience being a contributing factor to their considering suicide.

I blessed those who stood in for the dead.

While writing for the blog Pam’s House Blend, I covered the trial of Allen Ray Andrade from the Greeley, Colo. courtroom. He was convicted of murdering Angie Zapata. “It’s not like I just went up to a school teacher and shot her in the head,” I heard him say in a recorded jail house phone call played during the trial. “You know what I mean? It’s not like I went up to a law-abiding straight citizen.”

Andrade called her “it” and “that thing” in those recorded calls as well.

I still live with the pain of the death of my friend Christine Daniels (formerly known as Mike Penner). She committed suicide after detransitioning.

I blessed those who stood in for the dead.

It rained during the San Diego Pride parade. The angel wings I wore were designed for sunny San Diego weather – they were beautiful pieces designed by trans community member Invictus. When it rained, however, the synthetic feathers soaked up the rain like sponges, and the wings became heavy burdens to raise and lower. My body, days later, still aches from the efforts of raising and lowering the wings.

With the contingent of those who stood in for the trans dead who’ve died since the first of this year, part of its message was awareness and part of its message was to invest in the lives of trans people and issues as the fight for marriage equality winds down.

Frankly, I don’t know what further investment will look like, although I believe it’ll happen. It’s already begun to happen, yet I see it happening in a more diversified way into the future.

It’ll depend a lot on if the diversity of the trans community embraces its allies and potential allies, or alienates them with rhetoric and actions that rejects, or appears to reject, them.

Allies are wanted – needed – to help stop the deluge of death by participating in the process of showing that trans lives are valuable lives worth living. And, they are lives valued by more than just their trans peers.

With that thought in mind, I want to let all those who are reading this know how difficult it was by the end of the parade for me to bless those who stood in for the dead. The physical pain matched in inward turmoil.

I don’t want to bless any more dead, not because the dead don’t need blessing, but because I don’t want any more trans dead to bless. But I know – I know – there will be more trans dead to bless for years and years to come.

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Commentary: Post marriage equality we need to get our priorities in order Sun, 19 Jul 2015 14:00:56 +0000

Whoa … not so fast!

As the celebration of marriage equality winds down our community appears poised to pivot toward, and bring the primary focus of our formidable influence, to the fight for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  It may seem the obvious course.  After all, as the saying goes, a gay or lesbian person can get married in the morning and fired in the afternoon.  Only twenty one states protect against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and a mere eighteen on gender identity.  However there is a need more urgent, one literally of life and death–namely homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBT) youth.  The time is now that they be not just A priority at long last, but THE top priority moving forward.

Fully 20-40 percent of the approximately 1.5 million homeless youths in America identify as LGBTQ, based on numerous studies.  Over the past almost two decades I have been engaged on this issue these dismal statistics have proven stubbornly resistant to change.  Studies also show that a youth’s LGBTQ identity is often a major contributing factor to becoming homeless, if not the cause altogether.  Once homeless, LGBT youth face a myriad of risks, including: suicide, violence, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, prostitution, and substance abuse/dependence.

Greater access to LGBTQ specific and LGBTQ- friendly services, with the necessary competencies and experience, are sorely needed.  There are a number of amazing foundations and service organizations around the country, such as the Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Foundation, Ali Forney Center in NYC and Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, attempting to raise awareness and/or directly address the plight of homelessness among our youth.  Yet these organizations have been de facto charged with the responsibility for addressing a crisis that in scope and scale is far beyond their resources and capabilities.

Marriage equality is just the latest on the list of our most consequential victories to date.  HIV/AIDS has gone from being a terminal to potentially manageable chronic condition (for those with access to life-saving medications), DADT and DOMA have fallen, we now enjoy protections in federal government employment and contracting, polls consistently show we have won the hearts and minds of an ever-increasing majority and corporate America largely has our backs.  However, most national level successes have been to the sole benefit of LGBT adults.

My life-partner, now husband, of sixteen years and I are no exception; our ability to be legally married and have our relationship recognized by the federal government has been a huge advantage to us personally.  I am grateful for that and to our LGBT ancestors; community activists, paid and volunteer; the many thousands of those uncelebrated LGBT folks who have helped move their families, employers, religious organizations and communities forward; and most especially to President Obama, without whom we would currently enjoy precious few of these advances.  I am certainly mindful, as well, of the ongoing and important efforts to address the numerous issues in addition to ENDA that remain before us, including: transgender equality; equal access to adoption; countering so-called religious freedom legislation and executive orders; and securing equality in housing, public accommodation, senior care and facilities, etc.

But when community leaders and pundits discuss the work ahead in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges, I am disheartened at what I do not hear.  Homeless LGBTQ youth rarely, if ever, rate a mention.

To be fair, our national leadership is not entirely AWOL.  One example is the campaign to end anti-LGBTQ bullying which may help reduce a contributing factor toward homelessness among some LGBTQ youth.  The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) is a complimentary effort to address bullying and equal opportunity in education.  Another example is the advocacy around the Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act (RHYIA) which would help ensure that programs funded by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (which must be renewed) serve LGBT youth effectively and without discrimination.

We’ve all heard of ENDA, chances are the same cannot be said for SNDA or RHYIA.  There is good reason for that.  For all the gains they have labored hard to help secure, and for which they can be rightly proud, the professional activist class of our community has been ineffectual in advancing the cause of homeless LGBT youth.  Furthermore, our national leadership has consistently failed to embrace a sense of urgency regarding the crisis, let alone respond accordingly.  This is shameful, especially when you consider the vast wealth, power, access and media profile that has been marshaled by our community in securing the aforementioned victories.  Unless our national organizations wake up and similarly prioritize homeless LGBT youth, RHYIA and SNDA will languish, services will remain inadequate and overall progress will be incremental at best.

Understanding the relative lack of attention given this crisis over the years has frankly confounded me.  Perhaps it is because these youths are viewed as other, because they are largely unseen in the lives of the LGBT middle-class and wealthy; or since, as numerous studies suggest, racial and ethnic minority youth are overrepresented among them; or it is possibly a psychological blind spot for us as having survived the perilous journey of coming out or accepting a different gender, it is too painful too look back at how easily a life on the streets could have been our own experience at a young age.  Maybe its a matter of selfishness, i.e. we can prioritize only those things that we as LGBT adults want and need. Or it could be, as my Dad often says, all about the money–or the lack thereof, in this case, in terms of their ability to make donations or provide membership dollars.

Whatever the cause for our community’s functional neglect of these kids, it is long past time to get over it.  We cannot allow yet another decade to go by, or another generation of our youth to be lost to the streets.  Our hard working professionals, top organizations and major contributors have proven they will go to the mat in fighting for our interests–yet when will our own homeless LGBTQ youth take precedence?  Until they do, many will never get the chance to see manifest in their own lives the benefit of the gains we have made and have yet to make.  Absent that top level commitment going forward, we will have to ask ourselves what kind of community we are, what kind of people we have become, that amidst such tremendous success we neglect the most vulnerable among us.

Glenn LeCarl is a disabled veteran and U.S. Naval Academy alumnus based in Tallahassee, FL.  He can be reached at

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Remarks by Nicole Murray Ramirez at St. Paul’s rainbow lighting ceremony Thu, 16 Jul 2015 21:47:57 +0000

SAN DIEGO: Remarks by Nicole Murray Ramirez at St. Paul’s Cathedral rainbow lighting ceremony, July 14:

Good Evening, it is my deep honor to have been asked to speak tonight. These are indeed historic times for our great nation and all Americans.

The Confederate flag is coming town in many Southern states and the White House for the first time was lit up with the colors, of the LGBT community’s Rainbow flag.

And tonight, one of our city’s oldest and historic cathedrals, St. Paul’s is also going to display the rainbow colors.

As an old queen from the 1960s and ‘70s I continue to have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming.

In 1974 when Vietnam veteran Jess Jessop, ACLU attorney Tom *Homann and I organized our city’s first Pride march the police refused to issue us a permit but we marched anyway. Homosexuals were classified as perverts and deviants with a mental disorder; just with a stroke of a pen your parents or a judge could send you to a mental hospital where many homosexuals were given electrical shock treatment. It wasn’t till 1976 that homosexuality was made legal in the state of California.

It is on this day, and with historic events like this that I especially think of my pride. Co-host Jess and Tom who we lost both to AIDS.
I think of Gloria Johnson, Al Best, Brad Truax and many others who are no longer with us, whose shoulders we stand on. As I’ve said so many times before, a community that doesn’t know where it came from does not know where it’s going.

Every study and every survey has shown that a vast majority of LGBT Americans are very spiritual, be they Christian, Jewish or Buddhist.
And every study shows how for decades we have been condemned by the religion of our parents, our childhood.

Yet a vast majority of us have held on to our faith, our God. I believe if Jesus Christ came down to Earth today He would weep for what so many are doing in his name.

But I believe in my heart and soul that Jesus is smiling down this evening on St. Paul’s Cathedral. Very Rev. Bridges, your church’s denomination has in the last decade been in the forefront of change and acceptance that we are all indeed God’s children. While many churches turned us away at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, this cathedral and its parishioners did not.

I will never ever forget that when my Catholic Church and its bishop refused to say a funeral mass for one of our young community leaders, John McCusker, you welcomed without hesitation John’s funeral, the McCusker family and our community here. We will never, ever forget.

My traditional Catholic Latino family almost all of them turned their back on me when they found I was gay; even my beloved grandparents. Though I have hope in Pope Francis, I’m not sure I will be granted a Catholic funeral, so I hope to have my memorial here in this beautiful loving cathedral.

But for those of you in the audience getting excited over the thought of my demise This old queen still has some years left in her … I hope.

In closing …When I think of St Paul’s Cathedral, its bishop, it’s deacon, clergy and parishioners I think of Mathew 25 verses 35 and 36:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.
I was thirsty and you gave me to drink.
I was a stranger and you invited me in.
I needed cloths and you clothed me.
I was Sick and you looked after me.
I was in prison and you came to visit me.

St Paul’s Cathedral you truly walk in His shoes. Thank you so very much for your true Christian values. God bless you all.

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Agree or disagree? When the Pride parade ‘die-ins’ happen, above all, be respectful Thu, 16 Jul 2015 16:00:26 +0000

A number of people have asked what I think of the “die-ins” planned for Saturday’s parade. It’s complicated.

As a political strategy, I think the “die-ins” are a bad idea for a number of reasons.

Perhaps most importantly, it is causing division within the transgender community. While it is not uncommon for groups to have internal disagreements about strategy, it is rarely ideal for them to play out in public, particularly in front of the biggest audience of the year. Further, this is not a small difference in the tactics that best achieve a goal, but a larger difference about the goal and messaging of transgender participation in the Pride parade. Members of the transgender community in the Grand Marshall contingent are standing with the bulk of progressive San Diegans in celebration. Those involved in the “die-ins” risk seeming apart while urging more somber reflection.

Both feelings are important, but they don’t always work best together, as evidenced by the split between the Transgender Days of Remembrance and Empowerment. Coming just weeks after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, this year’s Pride parade seems destined to be a victory party. As the victory most directly affects LGB Americans, it seems almost presciently wise that Pride chose to make the transgender community the Grand Marshal to ensure we had reason to celebrate together. (Open transgender military service may provide another reason.)

That also makes the “die-ins” seem like a slap in the face, despite the tone Pride Executive Director Stephen Whitburn tried to set in his open letter. The mix of offense, substance use and a party atmosphere could easily turn a well-intentioned attempt to raise awareness into screams of “Get up, T*****.” Or worse.

While I would have advised activists against the “die-ins”, I won’t ask them not to do it. I am not transgender, and came out as gay at a time when LGB support was building rapidly. I don’t know what it is like to feel that my community and its tragedies are too often invisible. I can respect the idea that the largest annual audience of the LGBT community and allies needs education more that celebration, and the “this isn’t the right time/place” argument has too often been used to delay progress. I doubt pundits hailed Stonewall as an act of strategic genius the day after it happened, much less the week before.

Instead, I have an unusual request for our readers, community and allies. Prove the strategist in me wrong. When the “die-ins” happen, be respectful. Encourage those around you at the parade to be respectful, or at least quiet. If someone asks “What are they doing?” educate them on transgender violence and suicide. If they ask “Why is the parade stopping?” remind them that small delays are sometimes required to ensure we keep moving forward together.

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Commentary: The new frontier of LGBT equality — The California State and Federal Judiciary Wed, 15 Jul 2015 18:47:40 +0000

A diverse judicial branch is one comprised of judges from each diverse category of persons, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.  As the judicial branch of California has recognized, “in order to serve the state of California effectively, the judicial branch should reflect the diversity of the state. The judicial branch must continue efforts to enhance public trust and confidence by working with other branches of government toward a judicial branch that mirrors the state’s diversity.”[1] Although the Judicial Council has recognized that, in order to ensure access and fairness, the courts must reflect the increasing diversity of the state’s population, California’s judiciary still does not reflect that diversity, and representation of LGBT people on the bench is no exception.

Diversity on the bench is imperative for the equitable administration of justice.  “Although judges must remain impartial in deciding all cases that come before them, having a broad range of diverse judges helps protect the public’s trust of the judicial system,” explains Barbara J. Cox, a nationally recognized authority on sexual orientation and the law and Vice Dean and Clara Foltz Professor of Law at California Western School of Law.  “It is important for California’s judicial branch to reflect the LGBT diversity of its population.”

This article reports the status of LGBT presence in the California state and federal judiciary, explores why a diverse judiciary requires more LGBT judges, analyzes causes of the lack of diversity, and identifies remedies to improve diversity.

I. LGBT Presence is Necessary for a Diverse California Judiciary

From Sacramento to San Diego, the legal community in California as a whole, regardless of sexual orientation, acknowledges the importance of LGBT representation in California’s judiciary.

“It’s time for California to make a sustained commitment to increase LGBT representation throughout the judiciary.  The legitimacy of the justice system depends on inclusion,” asserts Herbst Foundation Professor and Dean’s Circle Scholar at University of San Francisco School of Law Julie A. Nice.

Both San Diego County Bar Association President Richard Huver and Executive Director Ellen Miller-Sharp also highlight the importance of LGBT representation in the judiciary.  “Our court system ensures justice for all, and therefore we should have a bench that represents all,” notes Huver, “Diversity in the judiciary, inclusive of individuals who represent all minorities & the LGBT community, is important to California’s court system.”  And, in Ellen Miller-Sharp’s words, “Until we ensure that our bench adequately represents the diversity of our population, including individuals who identify as LGBT, our justice system does not give an equal voice to all of our citizens.”

“The greater Los Angeles area is the second largest metropolitan region in the country, and is home to a remarkably diverse population that is dynamic and growing.  LGLA, an affiliate of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, works in partnership with other minority bar affiliates to create a diverse pipeline of qualified judicial candidates who reflect this dynamic community.  A diverse judiciary works to instill confidence in the populace – the individuals who are affected every day by its decisions – that the courts resolve disputes with fairness, impartiality, and integrity.”   T. Peter Pierce, Secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles.

Last, Yolanda Jackson, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Bar Association of San Francisco, acknowledges the value of LGBT presence in the judiciary, “Analyzing the depth of LGBT members of the bench is important work in our combined efforts on behalf of the citizens of California.”

II. Lack of Reliable Demographic Data On LGBT Status

What is the current status of LGBTs in the judiciary at the state and federal levels in California?  The answer to this question is not as easily obtained as one may think.

There are numerous challenges to obtaining precise demographic data on LGBT members of both the judiciary and community.  Unwillingness to volunteer LGBT status is a common problem, illustrating that the social stigma of LGBT status continues to exist in California:

“Measuring sexual orientation and gender identity can be challenging since these concepts involve complex social and cultural patterns. As a group still subject to social stigma, many of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may not be forthcoming about this identity when asked about it in a survey.”[2]

Accurate and reliable statistics are crucial to ensure LGBT status is included in our discussions about diversity on the bench.  The lack of precise demographic data on the LGBT population makes it difficult to analyze how disproportionate the LGBT bench is compared to the LGBT population in a specific geographic area.

In an effort to increase diversity in the judiciary, the Governor and the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE) release a yearly demographic report summarizing the self-reported data collected on the gender, race, and ethnicity of California justices, judges and applicants through a voluntary questionnaire.  Only recently, in 2011, California added LGBT status to the information gathered, with the LGBT statistics first released in the 2012 Demographic Report.[3]

Because the demographic data is collected through a voluntary questionnaire, the Governor releases the number of judges who did not provide responses to the questions regarding race, nationality and LGBT status.  A closer look at the percentages, outlined in the below table, reveals the severity of the lack of accurate data on LGBT members of the judiciary.  For example, in 2014, over 35% of the judges chose not to respond to the question regarding LGBT status whereas only 2.8% of the judges chose not to respond to the race/nationality questions.

No Information Provided on LGBT Status No Information Provided on Race/ Nationality
2011 672 (40%) 49 (2.9%)
2012 647 (39.1%) 49 (3.0%)
2013 625 (37.2%) 48 (2.9%)
2014 582 (35.2%) 46 (2.8%)

Further, each of California’s five LGBT bar associations work closely with the LGBT legal communities across the state and have vetted and recommended candidates for judicial appointments.  As a result, the collective knowledge of the LGBT bar associations reveals some of the counties are undercounted in the Demographic Reports, for whatever reason.

III. LGBT Presence in the California State Judiciary

Historically, openly LGBT lawyers have not been appointed to judgeships at the same rate as non-LGBT lawyers.  Appointment is the only way to become a justice on a California Court of Appeal or on the California Supreme Court.  And while Superior Court judges may be elected, the Governor initially appointed almost 88% of the trial judges according to the most recent statistics.[5]

“The California judiciary should be leading on the measure of LGBT inclusion.  But we’re trailing.  Unfortunately, the lack of representation creates the perception of a lack of opportunity.  Because LGBT lawyers seldom see a judicial appointment from their community, they remain reluctant to pursue these positions.  We need strong leadership to make clear that California is committed to LGBT inclusion at every level of the judiciary.” Herbst Foundation Professor of Law, and Dean’s Circle Scholar Julie A. Nice.

Fortunately, the Governor’s office is beginning to address the low LGBT representation in the judiciary.  Governor Brown should also be recognized and applauded for his commitment to appointing diverse judges to the California judiciary.  He appointed the first gay and the first lesbian justices to the California Court of Appeal.  In fact, Governor Brown appointed the first openly gay judge in the United States back in 1979.[6]

A.        Historic Demographics

An examination of the California Judicial Demographic Reports for 2012-2015 reveal some fairly stark conclusions:

  • There was no change in the total number of LGBT judges in California from 2013 to 2014.
  • Currently, 45 of California’s 58 counties do not have any LGBT judges.
  • Seven California counties with over 20 judges do not have any LGBT judges.
  • There has never been an openly LGBT Justice of the California Supreme Court.
  • The first openly LGBT Justice of California’s Courts of Appeal was appointed in 2012.
  • The first openly LGBT judge on the Orange County Superior Court was appointed in 2014.
  • There are no openly bisexual judges or justices in California.
  • There is only a single transgender judge on California’s Superior Courts (and that judge was elected).
  • Only 1 out of 23 LGBT judicial applicants was appointed in 2013.

For the official statistics on the number of LGBT judges appointed from 2012-2014 we can look to the judicial appointment data released annually by Governor Brown’s office for 2012-2014[7] coupled with the demographic reports during the same time period.[8]







Total Judges Total  

LGBT Judges

2012 21 


4 90 1656 39
2013 23 


1 71 1681 41
2014 10 


5 76 1655 41

As highlighted above, in 2014, Governor Brown appointed five self-identified LGBT judges and justices to California’s judiciary, equaling the total number of LGBT appointees made in the two preceding years combined.[9] But at best, the Governor’s recent LGBT appointments have kept pace with open LGBTs who have left the judiciary.  Based on the Judicial Council’s data, there has been no change in the total number of openly LGBT judges from 2013 to 2014.   LGBTs are just treading water:  even with recent appointments and election victories, the percentage of openly LGBT sitting California judges and justices still remains at a disappointing 2.4%.

Recently, Governor Brown appointed the first openly LGBT judge in Orange County.  Casey R. Johnson, the current Vice President of the Orange County Lavender Bar Association, applauds this historic appointment:

“Governor Brown’s appointment of Orange County’s first openly LGBT judge in 2014 marked an historic step towards establishing a local judiciary that more accurately reflects Orange County’s increasingly diverse population.  Until this appointment, Orange County was the largest county in California by population without an openly LGBT judicial officer.  As the Orange County Lavender Bar Association celebrates its 5th Anniversary, Orange County’s commitment to diversity has never been stronger, and it is our sincere hope that this marks the first of many future such appointments.”[10]

B.        Current Demographics

The judiciary in California does not reflect its LGBT population.  “The statistics for 2014 show slight growth, but it appears that the LGBT community is still not sufficiently represented in our judiciary consistent with the demographics of our state.”  California Superior Court Judge Tara M. Flanagan (Alameda County).

Most recently, on March 4, 2015, the Judicial Council of California released its annual Demographic Data Report, the fourth such report that includes self-reported information on the LGBT status of California’s judiciary. The 2015 Demographic Report confirms California’s 1,655 state court judges and justices do not proportionally represent the state’s LGBT population.

2011 Demographics 2012 Demographics 2013 Demographics 2014 Demographics
Supreme Court 

(7 Justices)

0 0 0 0
Courts of Appeals  

(98 Justices in 2014)

0 1 (1%) 2 (2.1%) 2 (2%)
Superior Court  

(1,551 Judges in 2014)

37 (2.3%) 38 (2.4%) 39 (2.4%) 39 (2.5%)

At the local level, 45 of California’s 58 counties do not have any self-identified LGBT judges.  In other words, the LGBT community is not represented in the judiciary in 78% of the counties in California.  And, seven of these counties have over 20 judges.

Total Judges Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
Fresno Superior 41 0 0 0 0
Kern Superior 32 0 0 0 0
Sacramento Superior 59 0 0 0 0
San Joaquin Superior 28 0 0 0 0
Santa Barbara Superior 21 0 0 0 0
Stanislaus Superior 21 0 0 0 0
Ventura Superior 27 0 0 0 0

Further, of the 13 counties in California that do have openly LGBT judges (Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Imperial, Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara), almost half of those counties are in the Bay Area.  And the First District Court of Appeal, based in the Bay Area, is the only Court of Appeal with any openly LGBT justices.

Total Judges/Justices Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
1st District Court of Appeal 20 1 1 0 0
6th District Court of Appeal 7 0 0 0 0
Alameda Superior 71 2 1 0 1
Contra Costa Superior 37 1 1 0 0
Del Norte Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Lake Superior 4 0 0 0 0
Marin Superior 11 1 0 0 0
Monterey Superior 17 0 0 0 0
Napa Superior 6 0 0 0 0
San Benito Superior 2 0 0 0 0
San Francisco Superior 47 4 2 0 0
San Mateo Superior 25 1 1 0 0
Santa Clara Superior 75 2 0 0 0
Santa Cruz Superior 11 0 0 0 0
Solano Superior 20 0 0 0 0
Sonoma Superior 19 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 374 12 6 0 1

Orange County

Orange County’s population of over 3.1 million people (the third largest county by population in the state) is served by 113 judges – only one of whom identifies as LGBT.  In other words, less than one percent.

Total Judges/Justices Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
4th District Court of Appeal 25 0 0 0 0
Orange County Superior 113 0 1 0 0
Riverside Superior 56 2 1 0 0
TOTAL 194 2 2 0 0

Los Angeles Region

Over a quarter of California’s population resides in Los Angeles County.[15] Not surprisingly, Los Angeles County is also home to 438 trial court judges, over 25% of the trial court judges statewide.  But only nine of those judges self-identified as LGBT in the Report, approximately 2% of the total number of judges.

Total Judges/Justices Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
2nd District Court of Appeal 26 0 1[17] 0 0
Los Angeles Superior 438 4 5 0 0
Kern Superior 32 0 0 0 0
San Luis Obispo Superior 11 0 0 0 0
San Bernardino Superior 65 2 1 0 0
Santa Barbara Superior 21 0 0 0 0
Ventura Superior 27 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 620 6 6 0 0

San Diego Region

According to the 2015 Demographic Report, only three judges out of 126 in San Diego County identified as lesbian or gay in response to the judicial questionnaire, but it is commonly known that there are at least five openly LGBT judges on the San Diego Superior Court bench.

Total Judges/Justices Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
4th District Court of Appeal 25 0 0 0 0
Imperial Superior 10 0 1 0 0
San Diego Superior 126 1 4[19] 0 0
TOTAL 161 1 5 0 0

Sacramento Region

For the greater Sacramento region only there are only two LGBT judges on the Superior Court bench.

Total Judges/Justices Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
3rd District Court of Appeal 25 0 0 0 0
5th District Court of Appeal 10 0 0 0 0
Alpine Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Amador Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Butte Superior 10 0 0 0 0
Calaveras Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Colusa Superior 2 0 0 0 0
El Dorado Superior 7 1 0 0 0
Fresno Superior 41 0 0 0 0
Glenn Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Humboldt Superior 7 0 0 0 0
Lassen Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Madera Superior 8 0 0 0 0
Mariposa Superior 1 0 0 0 0
Merced Superior 9 0 0 0 0
Modoc Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Mono Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Nevada Superior 6 0 0 0 0
Placer Superior 10 0 0 0 0
Plumas Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Sacramento Superior 59 1 0 0 0
San Joaquin Superior 28 0 0 0 0
Shasta Superior 10 0 0 0 0
Sierra Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Siskiyou Superior 4 0 0 0 0
Stanislaus Superior 21 0 0 0 0
Sutter Superior 4 0 0 0 0
Tehama Superior 4 0 0 0 0
Trinity Superior 2 0 0 0 0
Tulare Superior 18 0 0 0 0
Tuolumne Superior 4 0 0 0 0
Yolo Superior 10 0 0 0 0
Yuba Superior 5 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 404 2 0 0 0

The lack of LGBT representation in the California judiciary becomes more drastic at the appellate level. There are two openly LGBT justices, both sitting on the First District Court of Appeal.

Total Justices Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
1st District Court of Appeal 20 1 1 0 0
2nd District Court of Appeal 26 0 0 0 0
3rd District Court of Appeal 10 0 0 0 0
4th District Court of Appeal 25 0 0 0 0
5th District Court of Appeal 10 0 0 0 0
6th District Court of Appeal 7 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 98 1 1 0 0

Many states have openly LGBT justices on their Supreme Courts.  For example, Oregon has two openly LGBT justices (1 gay and 1 lesbian); Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington each have a single LGBT justice on their Supreme Courts.  Puerto Rico also has an openly gay justice on its Supreme Court.  So, why is California lagging behind?

IV. LGBT Presence in the California Federal Judiciary

Out of 874 authorized Article III judgeships in the country, there are 11 openly LGBTs.  District Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York, who is on senior status as of April 2013, was the first openly LGBT Article III judge in the country, nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1994.[22] President Obama has nominated and successfully confirmed 11 openly LGBT Article III judges.

In all of California, there is only one openly LGBT Article III judge, the Honorable Michael Fitzgerald of the Central District of California, nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate in 2012.

California has three openly LGBT federal magistrate judges, the Honorable Donna Ryu, Northern District of California, the Honorable Allison Claire, Eastern District of California, and the Honorable Ruben Brooks, Southern District of California.

Under President Obama, in 2011, Judge James Oetken was the first openly gay man nominated and confirmed Article III judge to serve on the federal bench.  In 2013 Judge Pamela Chen became the first openly gay Asian American Article III judge nationwide.  Also in 2013 Judge Nitza Quinones became the first openly gay Hispanic Article III judge nationwide.  In 2014 Judge Darrin Gayles became the first openly gay African American Article III judge nationwide.

In the Central District of California, since Obama’s presidency, there have been eight Obama nominated and confirmed Article III judges, and only one is openly LGBT.  There have been nine magistrate judges appointed by the judges in the CDCA since 2009.  None of those appointed magistrate judges are openly LGBT.

In the Southern District of California, there have been four Obama nominated and confirmed Article III judges, and none are openly LGBT.  Since 2009, there have been six magistrate judges appointed by the judges in the SDCA, and none are openly LGBT.  There is one openly LGBT magistrate judge- Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks, appointed in 1993.

In the Eastern District of California, there have been two Obama nominated and confirmed Article III judges, and neither is openly LGBT.   Since 2009, of the eight magistrate judges appointed by the judges in the EDCA one is openly LGBT Magistrate Judge – Allison Claire, appointed in 2012.

In the Northern District of California, there have been six Obama nominated and confirmed Article III judges, and none are openly LGBT.  Since 2009, of the seven magistrate judges appointed by the NDCA judges, one is openly LGBT – Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu, appointed in 2010.

Since 2009, there have been seven Obama nominated and confirmed Article III Ninth Circuit judges.  However, there are no openly LGBTs on the entire Ninth Circuit, which covers the greater West Coast (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam).   In fact, there is only one openly LGBT federal appellate judge  in the entire country, The Hon. Todd Hughes of the Federal Circuit, nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the US Senate in 2013.

Total Judges Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit 

(AL, WA, OR, CA, ID, MN, NV, AZ, HI. Guam)

29 0 0 0 0
California District Court Judges * 

(active judges, not including senior judges)

62 0 1 0 0
California Magistrate Judges 65 2 1 0 0
Ninth Circuit and  

US District Courts of California

Obama Nominated and Confirmed Article III Judges LGBT Article III Judges Magistrate Judges* 

(*selected by the district  court judges)

LGBT Magistrate Judges
United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit 7 0 NA NA
EDCA 2 0 8 1
NDCA 6 0 7 1
CDCA 8 1 10 0
SDCA 4 0 6 0
TOTAL 27 1 31 2

The responsibility for making appointments of Article III judges is shared by the President and the Senate. Pursuant to the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, the President nominates persons to fill federal judgeships, with the appointment of each nominee also requiring Senate confirmation.  California’s two Senators each take turn reviewing and recommending the candidates to the White House.  Politics is inherent in this process.

Candace Carroll, who currently chairs Senator Barbara Boxer’s Judicial Appointments Committee for the Southern District of California, aptly sums up the process and the importance of creating a pipeline:

“It is important to be sure that all U.S. Senators understand the importance of LGBT diversity on the federal bench (because the whole Senate has to confirm judicial nominees), but it must also be remembered that there are many fewer district court judges than there are state court judges, and that an effort is made to appoint to federal seats the best of the best. That means the LGBT community has to make sure that there are many highly-qualified LGBT candidates available and applying from private practice, from the U. S. Attorneys’ offices, from the magistrates’ bench, from the state court bench, and so on.”

While many in the LGBT community decry the lack of LGBTs on the federal judiciary, they acknowledge the LGBT community’s first and foremost responsibility is to take an active role in this process.

“Local LGBT bars must be mindful that they hold the first responsibility of creating a pipeline of candidates and equally important, making sure that the decision makers along the process are aware of the community’s interest in having LGBTs on the Federal Bench.”  Steve Muni, 2015 Board of Directors Co-chair and Chair of Judiciary Committee of Sac LEGAL, Sacramento’s LGBT Bar Association.

Federal courts issue decisions that affect nearly every aspect of life for LGBT people, and those courts often have the final say in many of the most important issues of day. The federal courts provide the gateway for achieving broader civil rights victories by issuing findings of fact that frame the cases and legal issues going forward.

The lack of LGBT judges diminishes public confidence in the ability of the bench to act fairly on matters important to the LGBT community and may diminish the ability of the bench as a whole to act as impartial decision makers pursuing justice.  The federal judiciary, including U.S. Magistrate Judges and U.S. District Court judges, should reflect the population that it serves, including the LGBT community.  The public does not perceive the federal bench as impartial decision makers pursing justice when the judiciary does not reflect the community.  Likewise, a diverse federal judiciary acts more effectively as impartial arbiter pursing justice because of the greater diversity of knowledge within the judiciary.

V. Looking Forward

There are many reasons for the underrepresentation of LGBT people in California’s stated and federal judiciary.  We in the LGBT legal community must harness our collective energy and explore solutions.

First, and foremost, the stigma of LGBT status must be dispelled in order to expand the pool of LGBT judicial applicants and gather reliable statistics.  Dean Cox recognizes the effect of this stigma:

“Unless judges are willing to be open about their sexual orientation, then their representation on the bench does not help show LGBT diversity in the judicial profession.  It is understandable, however, that some judges fear that they will be discriminated against if they are open about their sexual orientation since they have to win elections to maintain their seats.  …  I would encourage all LGBT judges to be open and out, but I know it is difficult when discrimination still exists.”

The limited representation of open LGBT judges on the bench affects both LGBTs’ and the public’s perception of LGBTs in society.  Dean Cox explains, “Having judges who are openly LGBT helps show the public that LGBT people are found throughout society.”  In addition, Dean Cox recognizes that “Seeing ourselves as members of the judiciary is as important as seeing ourselves as lawyers, senior partners, leaders of organizations, professors, and other positions.”

Second, we must recognize the role the support and mentorship from our LGBT leaders, attorneys, and judges plays in increasing LGBT representation in the judiciary and in exploring ways to publicize that support.  Direct mentorship is not always the most far-reaching method to increase diversity, especially in the historically closeted LGBT population.  Sometimes, mere exposure to successful, openly LGBT judges is sufficient to inspire the path to judgeship.

Judge Flanagan’s journey to the bench is a prime example of this concept.  Her personal experience highlights the importance of openly LGBT judiciary members as role models.  “To create diverse future leaders, lawyers and judges, we must have diverse role models.  The moment I met Judges Stephen Lachs (the first openly gay judge in the United States) is the moment I knew it was possible to be gay or lesbian, be out, and to be a judge.”

Creating a California LGBT judges association would also foster a more diverse judicial pipeline.  Among other things, such an association could serve to illustrate a cohesive LGBT presence and inspire the LGBT community to seek appointment.

A California LGBT judges association could also serve as a valuable resource for mentoring LGBT judicial candidates.  Dean Cox and the Honorable Tara Flanagan both recognize the importance of LGBT judges as mentors.  “It’s important for judicial officers to serve as mentors to attorneys who are interested in pursuing these positions.” Dean Cox stated.  “Their willingness to support others by mentoring, availability, and involvement is very important.”

Beyond judicial officers, the LGBT community as a whole can make a difference by advocating for qualified LGBT judicial candidates during the judicial vetting process.   “Many in the LGBT community feel that we simply need to do more.  More political pressure, more lobbying, more identifying and mentoring our LGBT lawyers to become candidates for judges, and being more vocal about these issues.  It is not acceptable that the community does not have an openly LGBT Article III judge in the Northern District of California. I think many people in our community have a false impression that the federal bench is diversified with LGBT judges.  It is not.  When federal judge openings in our district come up, there has not been adequate pressure from our community to consider LGBT candidates.   How can we expect the decision makers in the vetting and appointment process to listen if we as a community are not being loud and clear?”  Denise Bergin, BALIF (San Francisco Bay Area’s LGBT Association) Board Member and co-chair of Judiciary Committee.

And, of course, the best method for remedying the issue is through the appointment process, which begins with qualified LGBT applicants in the pipeline.  “This vital pipeline feeds into the judiciary, creating a bench that reflects the community it serves,” acknowledges Yolanda Jackson, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Bar Association of San Francisco. “With more qualified LGBT applicants, the judiciary, the governor, and the LGBT community can work together to ensure that California’s LGBT population is adequately reflected in its judiciary.”

Across the state, California’s LGBT bar associations are embracing the importance of their role.  “The LGBT legal community acknowledges that our own challenge is to develop a larger pool of qualified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender judicial candidates,” recognizes Kimberly Ahrens, Co-President of Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, San Diego’s LGBT bar association.  “As leaders of the various LGBT bar associations in California, we are exploring methods to achieve this goal.  We believe the Governor recognizes the significance of a diverse bench and we look forward to working with the Governor’s office in this regard.”

Fortunately, opportunities currently exist throughout California for judicial appointments.  There are currently seven vacancies in California’s Courts of Appeal and 63 vacancies in Superior Courts throughout the state.[24] There are also two openings for Article III judges in U.S. District Courts in California.[25] The judiciary, the Governor, and the LGBT legal community all have opportunities to encourage openly LGBT lawyers to seek appointments and to seek elective judicial office.

“California has the largest judicial system in the Nation.  For the People to perceive that the justice system is just, the judicial branch must be accessible to them and reflect who they are. When the judiciary does not reflect the People, it loses credibility because it does not appear to be a place where justice can be found,” Mattheus Stephens, Board Member of the Victory Fund acknowledges.  “This makes it critical to appoint and elect more openly LGBT judicial officers.  The credibility of the Nation’s largest judiciary depends on it.”

About California LGBT Bar Coalition. California LGBT Bar Coalition, a group comprised of representatives of each of California’s LGBT bar associations, monitors, analyzes and promotes LGBT representation on the bench.  The members of the coalition that contributed to this article include:

Kimberly Ahrens: THLA, Tom Homman LGBT Law Association (San Diego’s LGBT bar),;

Andrew Chang & Andrew Vu:  BALIF, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, (San Francisco Bay Area’s LGBT bar association),;

Casey Johnson:  OCLBA, Orange County Lavender Bar Association,;

Steve Muni: SacLEGAL (Sacramento’s LGBT bar association),; and

Peter Pierce & Mark Lemke: LGLA, Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (LA Area’s LGBT bar association),

[1] Judicial Council of California, Justice in Focus, The Strategic Plan for California Judicial Branch 2006-2012, Goal I, (Adopted Dec. 1, 2006).

[2] Gary J. Gates, Frank Newport, “Special Report: 3.4% of U.S. Adults Identify as LGBT,”                                                             (Oct. 18, 2012).

[3] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[4] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014); Judicial Council of California, 2014 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2013); Judicial Council of California, 2013 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2012).

[5] California Commission on Judicial Performance, Summary of Discipline Statistics 1990-2009,, A-10, Table A-5.5.

[6] Eric Lesh, “Making Judicial History in California and the Importance of LGBT Judges,” (Dec. 21, 2012).

[7] Press Release, Governor Brown Releases 2014 Judicial Appointment Data,, (Feb. 27, 2015); Press Release, Governor Brown Releases 2013 Judicial Appointment Data, (Feb. 28, 2014); Press Release, Governor Brown Releases 2012 Judicial Appointment Data,, (Feb. 28, 2013).

[8] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014); Judicial Council of California,  2014 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2013); Judicial Council of California, 2013 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2012).

[9] Press Release, Governor Brown Releases 2014 Judicial Appointment Data,, (Feb. 27, 2015).

[10] Gary J. Gates, Frank Newport, “Special Report: 3.4% of U.S. Adults Identify as LGBT,”                                                             (Oct. 18, 2012).

[11] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[12] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[13] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[14] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[15] U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts – Los Angeles County, California,

[16] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[17] This number is updated to reflect the appointment of Justice Luis Lavin to the Los Angeles Court of Appeal. Press Release, Governor Brown Appoints Luis A. Lavin to the Second District Court of Appeal,, (June 26, 2015).

[18] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[19] This number is updated to reflect the actual number of openly gay judges on the San Diego Superior Court bench.

[20] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[21] Judicial Council of California, 2015 Demographic Data Report, (as of December 31, 2014).

[22] Judge Vaugh Walker from the Northern District of California, who presided over Hollingsworth v. Perry (CA’s Prop 8) case, nominated by Ronald Reagan and confirmed under George H.W. Bush, did not come out until 2011, after his retirement.

[23] Data for both tables in this section were retrieved from                                                                                                              ;; and from each court’s websites,; www.caed/;; and

[24] Judicial Council of California, Judicial Vacancy Report, (May 31, 2015).

[25] United States Courts, Current Judicial Vacancies, (May 22, 2015).

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The Union Tribune and the LGBT community Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:32:11 +0000

Mayor Jim Gray declared June 6 Nicole Murray Ramirez Day in Lexington Ky.

The San Diego Union Tribune has had a mostly negative relationship with the LGBT community, especially in the 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s, referring to us for a long time as the “homosexual community” and refusing to use the word “gay.” They ran negative articles and editorials, including ugly cartoons. (“Being gay” was not even legal in California until 1976.) When gay men were arrested for “lewd conduct” by the vice squad (mostly by police entrapment) the Union Tribune at times would print the addresses and employers of those homosexuals arrested. Forty one years ago the late Jess Jessop and I organized a picket of the Union Tribune and May Company in Fashion Valley. It was one of the first gay demonstrations covered by the TV media in San Diego. What made this all even more insane is that the son of the Union Tribune publisher was gay closet case David Copley, who led a double life; during the day pushing his paper’s anti-gay agenda and at night having dates with young call boys and Marines.

It was during the ’80s and the early AIDS crisis that the Union Tribune’s editorials and cartoons, at times crossed the line; one showing gay men as skeletons in a sauna.

At a cocktail party I threw a drink in David Copley’s face as he was giving millions of dollars to the “arts” but refused to give a penny to any AIDS agency because he was so afraid to be associated with his own LGBT community.

As the LGBT community and our civil rights movement grew, the Union Tribune started covering our community with a little more balance and finally the Copley family sold the paper to another conservative Republican, Doug Manchester.

Actually things got better when it came to our community and LGBT coverage but Manchester gave money to the anti-marriage campaign, and everyone got very angry. Mr. Manchester regretted what he did and we need to move on. The paper established a “community advisory board” and included every community except our LGBT community. Although I spoke to the paper’s “powers that be” and they said they would form an LGBT committee, they never did.

But the truth is our community received better coverage under Manchester and now recently the Los Angeles Times purchased the Union Tribune. Thank God!

I am happy they kept columnist Diane Bell and Editor Jeff Light. I look forward to this new era with the Union Tribune, and as a gay man and Latino I will continue to keep my eyes on them, but I do believe the relationship with the Union Tribune and the San Diego LGBT community is the best ever!

Mayor Faulconer to be honored at The Nicky Awards Aug. 23

Nicole Murray Ramirez, Susan Jester and Kevin Faulconer

Mayor Kevin Faulconer will be receiving the Mayor George Moscone Civil Rights Award at the 40th annual Nicky Awards Sunday Aug. 23 at the Marriot Hotel. The Board of Governors of the “gay academy awards of San Diego” voted unanimously to present the prestigious honor to Faulconer who was the national co-chair of the “Mayors for Marriage Equality”. This past Tuesday he became the first mayor in San Diego history to display the rainbow flag in City Hall. For decades the LGBT community has been an ally and a friend.

From appointing more LGBT Democrats and Republicans to City boards and commissions to serving as a “waiter” during Dining Out for Life, Mayor Faulconer and his wife, the first lady of San Diego Katherine Faulconer (the co-chair of the AIDS Memorial Task Force) have attended more LGBT events than anyone. His approval rating is so high that no major challenger has come forward for 2016.

About LGBT active San Diego military

Our city is home of the largest military complex in the western hemisphere and that means hundreds of thousands of men and women in mostly Marine and Navy uniforms. Thousands of these active military personnel are members of the LGBT community from ages 18 to? Since the lifting of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell it isn’t a big deal to see guys and gals in their uniforms at bars, restaurants and events. San Diego is also the home of hundreds of thousands of proud veterans.

San Diego is proud to be the home of the first LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor named after Ben F. Dillingham and Bridget Wilson. Our Pride parade also had the first active duty military contingent in an LGBT Pride event.

Our community recently hosted a reception for Army General Tammy Smith – the first openly LGBT general in the Armed Forces. And last week was another historic first – the authorized celebration of a Pride event on a military base. Yes indeed, we are very proud of our active duty military personnel and our veterans.

Tijuana: A great getaway!

I have been going to Tijuana, Ensenada, Rosarito, etc. since I was a little boy; for the beaches, the bull fights and fabulous getaways. Now as a man I still go there to get away and have a good time. Although many times I am there for their LGBT organizations and AIDS agencies.

Johan Engman, owner of the new Breakfast Republic on University | PHOTO BIG MIKE

A few weeks ago Terry Sidie, owner of Faces Nightclub in Sacramento and I spent a weekend there. We stayed at the historic Cesar Hotel on Avenida Revolución and had a wild time doing a lot of gay nightclubbing! Check out the new “Premier Club” with over 30 hot male dancers at 645 Avenida Revolución. But now there are about a dozen gay clubs all with male dancers (yes some totally nude). How safe is it you ask? It is completely safe. You will even see LGBT Mexicans holding hands. Their recent Pride parade (I had the honor of being their first Grand Marshall 20 years ago) drew thousands! Congratulations to this year’s Grand Marshall Franko Guillen!

And the cost of everything? They have the best bargains, and your money will go a long way! Check it out, and viva Mexico!

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Equality and justice for all Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:31:58 +0000

Dr. Delores Jacobs speaks at the gathering at The Center following The Supreme Court’s decision granting marriage equality to all, June 26. | PHOTO: SON APPAREIL PHOTOGRAPHY

Pride 2015 – the summer when love wins! With the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, we witness the long arc of history bend a little more toward justice. We know our community has much work left to do on many issues, but on the issue of marriage equality we can finally and truly claim this victory!

This victory has been at least 50 years in the making and we are grateful to the thousands who have made and continue to make that progress possible. We are proud to celebrate and remember.

We remember and are grateful for the tremendous bravery of hundreds of early trailblazers who dared to live their lives openly and to love bravely. We remember our Stonewall and transgender community friends who stood and fought, and launched a movement. We remember the bravery of those who fought the Prop. 8 ballot initiative, and the pain and devastation when it passed. We remember the long struggle to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We remember the hundreds of thousands of people who have given their time, energy, creativity and dollars that have fueled and sustained this movement.

And as we celebrate, we remember too, the battles still ahead. Equality and justice cannot leave any of our community members behind.

There are out, proud trans heroes showing us all that happiness and success are real possibilities. There are more and more trans youth out, proud and visible, and more brave, supportive parents. The trans community is finding its voice and making real progress toward equality. Yet for many, the day they reveal their true selves is not a simple day of triumph and freedom. It’s the day their family and friends begin to abandon them. It’s the day they lose their jobs. It’s the day part of their own community turns against them and the world becomes a threatening place that must be carefully navigated. For far too many trans women of color – it ends in death. We can’t leave any behind.

More and more brave LGBTQ youth are coming out publicly and finding support from their families and communities. But too often they do not find the love and support they need. Too often they are still kicked out of their homes, bullied in school, caught up in a social service system that does not understand how to help them. Too often they are alone, or believe they are. We can’t leave any behind.

We can celebrate the tremendous progress research and medicine have provided for HIV disease! We know that – if properly treated – HIV is a manageable disease and that someone who has the disease can live a long, healthy life. We know that, if someone living with HIV is able to access medication and reach undetectable viral levels, there will be very low risk for transmitting the virus to anyone else. We know that, for those not living with HIV, there are multiple successful methods for prevention. But too many still don’t have access to adequate medical care and medication, and too many are still afraid. We can’t leave any behind.

We know that our diversity is one of our community’s great strengths. In San Diego more than 50 percent of our community are of color and/or undocumented immigrants. Statewide, the undocumented community pays more than $3.2 billion dollars in fees and taxes into our economy every year, yet most are unable to access affordable, quality health care and other services. We can’t leave any behind.

We know the struggles of our African American community members as they are challenged again and again by a system that is weighted against them in many insidious ways, and must continually assert that #Blacklivesmatter. Who would have imagined we would have a constitutional right to marriage equality before the Confederate flag is finally banished to museums? We can’t leave any behind.

Federal LGBT civil rights protections, trans rights and acceptance, ending new HIV cases, youth protections and school safety, racial justice, comprehensive immigration reform and more. This is the work we still have to do. We can’t leave any behind.

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Time to step up for our LGBTQ kids Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:31:56 +0000

Toni Atkins

It’s another Pride season. And every year at this time our thoughts turn to parades and celebrations, and to looking at what we’ve achieved and what we have left to do.

This Pride, though, is a little different for me.

Because I can’t shake from my thoughts three bright, sweet transgender kids from San Diego County –Taylor Alesana, Sage David and Kyler Prescott – who recently committed suicide.

Maybe it’s because they are all from my community. Or maybe it’s because their deaths came so soon after each other.

Or maybe it’s because there was so much going right with these kids – supportive families, friends they could confide in and share with, and allies they could turn to at the North County LGBTQ Resource Center.

It seemed like all the right tools were in place and everyone involved was doing the best they could.

So I keep wondering what more we as a community could have done to help – and what we could be doing for other LGBTQ kids out there – especially the ones who don’t have any real support.

Adolescence is tough, but being an LGBTQ youth can feel impossible. And we have more out young people and kids coming out at younger ages than ever before.

Does the fact LGBTQ kids are more visible also make them more vulnerable?

These kids are identifying as LGBTQ – something it took many adults decades to muster the courage to do – at an age when simply wearing the wrong shoes can make you an outcast object of ridicule.

Increased visibility also adds another potential layer of pressure – if some kid is looking at viral videos of high school athletes coming out to their teammates or sweet same-sex “promposals” on YouTube, they may beat themselves up because their experience isn’t as easy as others appear to be. And we all know there are already enough people ready to beat up LGBTQ kids.

Organizations like Gay Straight Alliances, the It Gets Better Project, the Trevor Project and youth programs affiliated with our LGBTQ Community Centers are doing all they can.

But they can’t do it alone.

LGBTQ people have long faced the bigoted demonization that we are a bunch of predators just looking to get our hands on children.

And while the poison of that lie continues to diminish with the growing number of gay parents in our neighborhoods and in the gradual awakening of groups like the Boy Scouts, it nonetheless has generated a hesitation on the part of many LGBTQ adults to get actively involved in youth issues.

That’s not a luxury we have anymore. If young LGBTQ kids can step out of the closet, we all have to step up and have their backs.

Whether we have kids or not, we all have schools in our neighborhoods and school board members who are elected to represent us. So how can we ensure our schools are safe places for LGBTQ kids where bullying is not tolerated and complaints are taken seriously and adjudicated quickly? And how do we ensure school administrators and staff have the tools they need to recognize and respond to the multifaceted layers of bullying that LGBTQ kids face?

LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, many of them kicked out of the house for being who they are or escaping an abusive situation. How can we increase the awareness and training for foster parents who take in LGBTQ kids? And how can we encourage more LGBTQ adults to take on the role of foster parents and help these kids through the tough times?

With the increased attention being paid to transgender issues, how can we convince anyone tempted to mock or marginalize transgender people the real harm that their action could have on a vulnerable young kid? How can we inspire more young people – and their parents – to be kinder and more accepting of those who are different?

Technology has opened a lot of doors that help LGBTQ youth realize they are not alone. But not every door is worth opening. How do we help prevent LGBTQ kids from being pushed to the edge by the venom they may encounter – including anonymous taunting – over social media?

When I think of Kyler, Sage and Taylor, I wish I had easy answers to all these questions. But I don’t.

What I do have is a community of LGBTQ peers who have all experienced the pressures of being different. Of being “other.”

We need to figure out what the best approaches are and then put them into practice far and wide. And everyone has a role to play, regardless of age.

If our community harnesses what is in our hearts and in our histories, maybe we can come up with the answers LGBTQ kids are depending on us to find.

And that would really be something to be proud about.

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Donald Trump, loosen up Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:31:54 +0000


As a former gay resident of Mexico City, I cannot be quiet after hearing the vicious and racist statement by billionaire gringo Donald Trump about the Mexican people. His comments, many believed designed to create publicity for his TV career and his laughable presidential campaign, are despicable and sickening.

My years living in Mexico City, 1996-1998, were an exciting and enjoyable period in my life. Mexico City gay life was different from what I experienced in Washington and New York. I adapted quickly.

One Saturday evening a male companion and I were walking in the early evening in La Zona Rosa, the famous Pink Zone near the Angel statue and the American embassy. Perhaps we were walking a bit too close. Perhaps we appeared a bit too gay. Whichever it was, it provoked an attack on me.

A filthy and frightening looking Mexican man struck me in the face. Based on the sting from the hit, I was sure he had slashed me with a razor or a piece of broken glass. Fortunately, it was neither. It must have been a sharp fingernail.

I fell to the street and my male companion, fearful for his safety, stepped back. As I lay dazed on the street, my attacker kicked me. I will never forget the violence in the man’s face and eyes. Nearby, an elderly Mexican woman was attending a food cart on the sidewalk. The dear lady, slightly hobbled with age, came to my defense and scared the attacker away with a broom. At this show of courage, several Mexican men, considerably younger, came forward to chase the attacker away. I gave the elderly lady my thanks along with a handful of pesos.

The Mexican police arrived but did very little. I reported the attack to the U.S. Embassy without mentioning my sexuality. One of the security officers saw the attack as anti-American assault. With blond hair, blue-eyes, and milk white skin, I suppose my European ancestry might have been cause for a vicious attack.

When the embassy security interviewed an ornately uniformed Mexican police official about my attack, the response confirmed the distrust my Mexican friends told me they had in their police. The Mexican police official, apparently unclear of the approximate time of my attack, told the embassy security officer his men had arrested my attacker hours before my attack occurred on the sidewalk in La Zona Rosa.

I suppose what the Mexican police official had said was his men had foresight to know I would be attacked and they arrested the man before he could actually attack me. How then could he explain the attack by the same man he had arrested and placed in jail?

The Mexican police official proudly told me, though the guy escaped police custody, his men had the guy under arrest again at that very moment in another part of town. Amazing!

My experience with the Mexican police and the attacker that long ago summer evening in Mexico City did not make me dislike the Mexican people. Instead, it gave me deep respect for the elderly and frail Mexican lady who bravely took her broom and came to my defense to scare my attacker at no regard as to what the much younger attacker might have done to her.

I do not intend to imply that anti-gay violence was commonplace while I was in Mexico City. This was the only incident I encountered. I had also been assaulted multiple times in New York and smaller U.S. cities. Violence against LGBT people is everywhere and we must all be on constant guard.

Aside from my elderly defender, I am also grateful to the Mexican, and a few Cuban, gay men who shared their time with me while I was in Mexico City. We had some great times listening to music, most of them were Barry Manilow fans, drinking tequila, and sharing life stories on weekend getaways.

Donald Trump might have a different view of Mexicans and Mexico if he did the same thing. I know a very nice gay Mexican businessman to whom I would like to introduce The Donald. It just might make Trump an admirer of all things Mexico.

Feliz orgullo amigos Mexicanos!

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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Senior pioneers continue to break new ground Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:31:53 +0000

(L-R) San Diego Human Dignity Foundation Board President Drew Jack and John Brown

In 1967, when I was a young gay teen, I would go to the only under 21 gay night club in Hollywood at the time, Gino’s. There I would meet my friends and danced to the Supremes playing on the juke box. At that time it was illegal for men to dance with men in public and the police went to great efforts to enforce this law. But Gino was always one step ahead of them. When he saw the police pulling in to the parking lot, he would hit a switch that turned on all the overhead bright lights and turned off the juke box. We all knew to stop dancing or even touching each other in any way.

I often count my own blessings for having lived at a time of great social change and for being fortunate enough to ride that first wave of freedom created by the sacrifice of so many LGBT pioneers who fought for the first steps in that change.

Today those surviving pioneers of the baby boomer generation are facing the challenges of aging and like every decade of their lives they are changing the rules. Rules that have been adequate for generations of seniors are not acceptable today and must change. Issues of benefits, relationship recognition and supportive care all are in the throes of change as a result of our aging pioneers who are demanding that change.

LGBT widows and widowers who didn’t have the opportunity of legal recognition for their relationships before their partners passed will never receive the benefits to which they are entitled. Many have lost everything to distant family members who used the legal system to rob surviving partners of inheritance. As a result of this and other decades of challenges faced by our LGBT pioneers, they are disproportionally struggling with inadequate fixed incomes, homelessness and chronic health problems.

Due to decades of discrimination our aging pioneers are hesitant to reach out for assistance and are distrustful of a system that has chronically denied them civil and social rights. Often they have been estranged from their families for decades.

Those with resources are being targeted by private providers of assisted living and support services who call themselves “LGBT Friendly” but are not making any real effort to accommodate the special needs of LGBT seniors. Those individuals are susceptible to scam artists and those who prey on the elderly. Our senior pioneers are less likely to report such crimes because of institutionalized distrust of the police and the criminal justice system.

Our pioneers in need are fortunate to be living in the San Diego community. In general, there is a higher level of awareness and sensitivity to LGBT special needs among senior service providers thanks, in large part, to our elected officials and the LGBT leadership and service organizations.

The Greater San Diego Business Association has worked now for years on their Engaging Aging program to bring many of these needs to the forefront of businesses. The LGBT Community Center’s Senior Resource Program provides services, ongoing case management and support to hundreds of our pioneers in need every week.

The San Diego Human Dignity Foundation’s Aging with Dignity Initiative is raising resources for the services at The Center and to fund a countywide survey regarding the health care needs, disparities and barriers for our LGBT seniors. The fourth annual Reunion Party, which raises funds for these important issues, is being held at the Sheraton Harbor Island Resort Aug. 8. While last year’s sold-out event raised funds and awareness in a very fun way thanks to guest star, Emmy Award winning entertainer Leslie Jordan, this year’s event will bring these issues to a broader audience thanks to guest star, actor and comedian, Hal Sparks.

The Trailblazers are a volunteer group of community leaders that meets regularly at The Center, overseeing the county survey and acting as an advisory group to The San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. They also provide a forum for discussion of issues facing LGBT seniors in San Diego County.

One of the emerging questions is what do we mean by “LGBT Friendly”? This is a very critical discussion especially around senior issues. Unlike other special needs groups, public funding cannot be used for services or housing that is exclusively LGBT. This goes back to the long-standing fight over federal recognition of LGBT as a category for protection in the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Part of the consistent push back on this issue is the knowledge that with a category of protection LGBT people could be eligible for funding that would be exclusively for LGBT people.

The next best thing is to create programs and housing that are “LGBT Friendly”, but what does that mean to our community? I have met with senior service providers that have said they were “LGBT Friendly” because they did not discriminate against anyone. Well, that is just not enough. With the many special needs faced by our pioneer seniors, we need providers that are willing and able to tailor services to meet these needs with dignity and respect.

The Trailblazers have opened discussions about what constitutes “LGBTQ Friendly”, and have talked in terms of specific policies that would need to be in place by any provider, including mandatory in service training and a mechanism for letting the public know that they are “LGBTQ Friendly”. This is an even more urgent issue in light of the collaboration between Community Housing Works and The Center to develop and market the very first “LGBTQ Friendly” housing in San Diego County.

So as we turn our attention over Pride week to our “senior pioneers” who have sacrificed so much to bring us to where we are today, let’s recognize that for them the struggle continues. And make no mistake, you and I and future generations will benefit from the ground breaking work of our LGBT seniors and their advocates.

John L Brown MA Ed is the executive director of San Diego Human Dignity Foundation and a long-time activist in the LGBTQ community. For comments or questions about this article you can contact him at For ticket information for the 4th Annual Reunion Party, please call 619-291-3383 or visit the Web site at

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Chargers: Should they stay or should they go? Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:31:48 +0000

I want the Chargers to stay in San Diego. I want a stadium funding plan that puts the costs on those who would benefit most. I read the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) report and followed the back-and-forth between the City and the Chargers, and I still want answers to a few questions.

Does the NFL really want to leave San Diego?

It makes sense for the Spanos family to leave San Diego if they can make more money in Los Angeles. The NFL’s math is a little more complicated. Do they want to add L.A., the nation’s second largest media market? Yes. Do they want to lose San Diego (28th) or St. Louis (21st)? Why would they, when they could move the Raiders and use the San Francisco 49ers to keep the Bay Area (6th)?

As to the idea of moving two teams to L.A., I think the NFL owners are trying to have their cake and eat it too. The NFL has used fear of L.A. to get new stadiums in a number of cities. If they demand an L.A. stadium be able to accommodate a second team, they can use that leverage in near perpetuity.

How much are we really giving the Chargers?

The CSAG plan avoids a tax increase by using expense savings, future rent and development income to create the City’s contribution. Opponents say that money should be put to more important City needs. Backers say the money doesn’t exist without the Chargers, because there would be no rent and the site isn’t as attractive for development without a stadium.

Other uses for the site have been mentioned: a river-walk and park, a university campus and a corporate compound, to name a few. I’d like some dollar values on those plans, preferably from the schools or businesses suggested who may want their own tax incentives. Free rent is only a cost if someone else is willing to pay for the room. Will the City really be able to use the Mission Valley site to generate revenue if the Chargers leave? Or are we really just deciding whether the Spanos family or someone else gets a handout to avoid a vacant lot?

Who builds the stadium?

The final funding plan will no doubt involve the Chargers getting help from San Diego taxpayers, many of whom were priced out of attending a Chargers game long ago. What do working families get, except whatever warm, fuzzy feeling comes from living in a truly “major city” with an NFL team? At the very least I would like to know that the stadium construction will create good paying union jobs for San Diegans. A deal to ensure current Qualcomm workers have similar jobs at similar or better wages in the new stadium should be considered as well.

What if we regret the Chargers leaving?

However high the cost of keeping the Chargers, it will be cheaper than getting a new NFL team. Ask Cleveland or Houston, who found themselves over the NFL’s barrel for hundreds of millions when they wanted a team back, or St. Louis, who is trying to avoid losing another team. That’s something I would consider before waving goodbye to the Chargers, though it may be the right decision in the end.

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What Pride means to me this year Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:31:43 +0000


With the various Pride related events scheduled in San Diego for Pride weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Pride is.

If one wants to call the Stonewall Riots the first Pride event, since Pride events technically are a remembrance and a celebration of the Stonewall uprising and the Gay Liberation movement that followed the Stonewall Riots, then historic Pride began by drag queens and trans women breaking beer bottles over the heads of police officers, followed by a riotous crowd throwing Molotov cocktails because LGBT people were being oppressed.

I don’t think that kind of violence is how we want to celebrate Pride in San Diego this year, or any other year for that matter. I’m sure the San Diego Police Department would appreciate it.

On one hand, Pride events are a gathering of community to celebrate. It’s to say “Look how far we’ve come! Let’s have some fun!” On the other hand, the competing thought is to honor the advocates and activists who created the change we celebrate, honor the people who are still doing the work and look ahead at the work and sacrifice that will be required in the years ahead to achieve full equality and full justice for the entirety of the LGBT community.

Our community has an inherent conflict in place.

Maybe we should feel good that corporate sponsors want to join in to help us feel proud. So many Fortune 500 companies have added sexual orientation and gender identity to their equal opportunity and diversity policies – perhaps that is something to celebrate too.

Well, take Facebook. They sponsored San Francisco’s Pride Parade just a few weeks ago. They have a welcoming diversity policy, they recently expanded their gender choices to include over fifty choices to accommodate the vast array of trans people’s gender identities; all seems well.

That is, until one looks at how Facebook’s real name policy has been used as a weapon against trans people. Just in the past few weeks, the trans woman who, when she worked at Facebook, helped develop and implement the Facebook gender spectrum for trans users was kicked off of Facebook under the real name policy. She was using the same name on Facebook that she had on her name badge at Facebook when her account was suspended.

And, in their storefront along San Francisco’s Market Street, along the San Francisco Pride Parade route this past June Saks Fifth Avenue visually wooed the crowd with the message “Happy Pride San Francisco, from your friends at Saks Fifth Avenue.” Apparently all was forgotten – by them – about their January legal brief stating they had the legal right to discriminate against transgender people.

Well, at least we won’t have to worry about the bathrooms being gender policed at the Pride Festival. We have the Limits On Use Of Facilities In Government Buildings And Businesses initiative (formerly referred to as the Personal Privacy Protection Act initiative) drive coming where, if the initiative should become law, bathrooms at businesses would be able to be policed for use based on perceived gender identity. Well, we’re back to the activism part of Pride events, looking at the work and sacrifice that will be required in the year ahead to stave off this attempt to derail LGBT community civil rights.

I guess this year I’m in the advocate and activism corner as opposed to the celebration one.

It’s not to take anything away from the celebrators: there’s is so much positive to celebrate this year. But being in the subcommunity of the LGBT community with the toughest civil rights slog ahead in California in the year to come, I see so much work and sacrifice ahead.

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Commentary: July 4 — Jesse Helms Freedom Day Sat, 04 Jul 2015 19:00:39 +0000

Jesse Helms

On the day GOP Senator Jesse Helms died, July 4, 2008, America celebrated with fireworks. As a longtime target of the senator’s hate tactics, I bought drinks for friends in San Francisco’s Castro.

My hate mail from Helms’s followers has diminished some over the years. After more than 20 years, the anonymous letters and “No Caller ID” calls still annoy me on my July 19 anniversary with Jesse Helms.

It was on that date in 1994 the North Carolina senator tried to fire me for “promoting the gay agenda” as a diplomat in the federal government. It was an action, recorded in the Congressional Record and on CSPAN, that depressed me, caused me to become suicidal, and sent me to the Dirksen Building with a long metal letter opener intending to stab Helms in the throat.

Fortunately, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t attack Helms. I feared prison. I was imprisoned anyway with depression and the painful memories of the workplace tensions over being targeted by Helms.

“Forget you ever knew me,” one colleague told me. I forgot the chap alright. When he called to apologize a few years later, I could not recall his name and refused the favor he wanted of me.

In addition to fireworks, there was a torrent of terrible tributes to Jesse Helms upon his death of dementia. Here are a few of them:

Then-President George W. Bush said he and wife Laura were “deeply saddened by the passing of our good friend and a great American: Senator Jesse Helms.”

The Wall Street Journal called Helms “a hero of the Cold War.” The paper also said Helms “was no racist.” With so much YouTube and print evidence of racial insensitivity, this statement is laughable. The paper credited Jesse’s rise to power as “a reaction to the collapse of liberal governance.”

John Fund, writing in the Wall Street Journal, said Jesse Helms’s “career provides a blueprint for anyone who represents an embattled minority viewpoint.” Consciously or subconsciously, the LGBT community, especially those with Pink Mob mentality, may be emulating the divisive and offensive tactics Helms so proudly used to force his “old time backwoods values” on the nation.

The Washington Post published an editorial of a different tone” “Jesse Helms, White racist.”

WRAL, the Raleigh TV station, on July 5, 2008, said, “Throughout his long public career, Senator Jesse Helms was a tireless advocate for the people of North Carolina, a stalwart defender of limited government and free enterprise, a fearless defender of a culture of life, and an unwavering champion of those struggling for liberty.”

WRAL continued, “Jesse Helms was a kind, decent, and humble man and a passionate defender of what he called ‘the Miracle of America’. So it is fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July.”

Helms, who I first met in 1976 in Kansas City at the GOP National Convention, was not “kind, decent, humble, or compassionate.” He was a bigot.

Raleigh resident Patsy Clarke wrote Helms a letter in June 1995 after he implied people who died of AIDS deserved what they got. She asked him not to pass judgment on people as her gay son died of AIDS in 1994 at 31.

In his response, Helms told Clarke he didn’t judge homosexuality, “the Bible did.” He callously told Clarke her son “played Russian roulette with his sexuality.”

Helms enjoyed his nickname “Senator No” because he never saw a federal program he liked ­– except the deadly tobacco program he wholeheartedly supported to enrich for his state’s tobacco farmers at a huge toll to human suffering in the U.S. and around the world.

Smoking is a huge problem in the LGBT community as I have witnessed from attending smoking cessation programs at LGBT community centers and churches around the country. Consider this: Jesse Helms would want you to smoke so you could develop a smoking related illness and shorten your life.

On July 4, 2015, Jesse Helms Freedom Day, the LGBT community is free from the heavy burden of bigotry Helms so proudly threw at us for decades. Free yourself this year from the burden of smoking and help end the rich tobacco economy in North Carolina that Jesse supported while he denied funds to fight AIDS and legislatively delayed marriage equality and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

By doing this the LGBT community of 2015 can hasten the end of the Helms legacy and the one federal program he strongly valued, the tobacco program, and for which he was always “Senator Yes.”

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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The advantage that dare not speak its name Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:02:42 +0000

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn state bans on same-sex marriage spawned vigorous commentary on both sides. It also launched another round of analysis into how support for marriage equality grew so much faster than other civil rights movements. Most focus on the importance of coming out, personal conversations, the power of social media and the universality of love, all of which no doubt played a role. They also avoid the more difficult discussion of the advantages, or privilege that was somewhat unique to the LGB equality movement: easier access to the structures of power and close allies not similarly situated.

The medical school admissions process couldn’t hold my sexual orientation against me, because I hadn’t even realized it yet. By the time I knew I was gay, I was well almost done and had learned when and how to discuss my orientation. Those who infiltrated the system before me changed academic medicine, making sexual orientation a sought after element of diversity at many residency programs.

Some LGB people no doubt had a harder time than I did, with water cooler whispers leading to rejections and missed promotions. But the ability of some to remain closeted, through choice or delayed realization of sexual orientation, allows LGB people to move up the ladder further and faster than other groups that face discrimination. Fair or not, healthy or not, remaining unrecognized simply isn’t an option for most people of color or women. Transgender individuals face a similar difficulty, with applications flagged or limited by pronoun mismatches in resumes and recommendations.

Realizing that LGB people could advance quietly until it was time to build on a wave of acceptance makes the rapid shifts by business and academia less of a surprise. A CEO who doesn’t want to advance women won’t have any on his leadership team. One who dislikes homosexuals may have entered a meeting Friday to find half his board wearing pink ties. Yes, consumer pressure and the “pink dollar” played a role, but that is in part because of higher paying jobs. (It’s worth noting that the pink ties could lead to pink slips in the many states where it is legal to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace.)

There may also have been PFLAG members on those boards, which brings up a second advantage. Discrimination based on race and ethnicity affects families for generations and reaches into numerous aspects of life. The straight parents and families of LGBT individuals typically suffer less discrimination in their own lives. They weren’t denied access to housing, education and finance even if their children were, leaving them better poised to provide and advocate for LGBT relatives when the opportunity arose.

Obviously, these are generalizations. Not every LGB person had the option of the closet or supportive families, and some belong to multiple groups that face discrimination. There are also heroic women, immigrants, transgender activists and people of color who have been breaking glass ceilings for years. That some LGB people had privileges does not mean their struggle is manifestly different from other civil rights struggles. Rather, they brought different weapons to the fight. The question now is how to use them to keep fighting for equality.

One way is to effectively arm others. The fight for reproductive rights, for example, might benefit from finding effective ways for women who have had abortions to “come out.” (Voluntarily.)

The harder, but far more important duty is to use any status we have for others. Privilege has taken on a bad connotation, but is only a problem when it is arrogantly denied or used only selfishly. Whatever piece of the brass ring the LGB community may have reached with marriage equality, grabbing it only takes one hand. The other needs to be reaching back through whatever doors were opened to bring everyone else through. It would be great to celebrate June 26 as a national holiday, but we can never forget how we felt June 25, or stand by while others face the same discrimination.

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The gay baiting of Carl DeMaio and Dave Roberts Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:14:19 +0000

Carl DeMaio

During Carl DeMaio’s congressional campaign I gave a warning in this column that if the LGBT leadership did not speak out against the vicious false sexual smear campaign and gay baiting against DeMaio that in the future others would use this same tactic to destroy gay candidates; now County Supervisor Dave Roberts is being subjected to the same type of attacks. Because Todd Bosnich has recently pleaded guilty in federal court and been proven a liar you would think LGBT leaders would finally come forward and speak out about what Carl DeMaio was subjected to. The progressive and liberal City Beat newspaper even stated, “Whether you like Carl DeMaio or not, personally or politically, nothing can justify what was done to him.”

The Sacramento Bee this past Sunday wrote about the smear campaign that DeMaio was subjected to and putting the “ick” factor on the gay guy. Where does Carl DeMaio go to get his reputation back? I saw first-hand what these destructive and vicious lies did to Carl and his family, and yet then and now our LGBT leaders remain silent. Former San Diego Democratic Party Chair Jess Durfee stood outside a DeMaio congressional event with a sign that stated “I stand with Todd Bosnich.” Mr. Durfee, you owe Carl a public apology, period. The mainstream and LGBT media also owe Carl DeMaio an apology for their at times over the top tabloid-like coverage of the gay baiting campaign against DeMaio and thankfully some are trying to finally report the facts not the false accusations of the past. What has been the fallout of the successful gay baiting of DeMaio, well just ask Dave Roberts!

A former top aide of Roberts now felt very comfortable accusing the supervisor of “engaging in an improper relationship with his male driver,” stating that they even shared the same hotel room during a weekend government conference. One local paper even dared to compare the Dave Roberts accusations to that of Bob Filner. Let me tell you, Dave Roberts is a happily married gay man raising five wonderful children and his accused “male driver” is a happy heterosexual who has a steady woman dating reputation. I know them both.

The former Dave Roberts aide after the successful gay baiting and smearing tactics against DeMaio now felt very comfortable in her money motivated accusations against Roberts to also use the same method of lies against the supervisor. I ask you again, where does Dave Roberts go to get his reputation back? Once again our LGBT leaders are not speaking out. Trust me, until they do, this type of gay baiting and smear campaign against gay male candidates will continue in the future.

Dave Roberts

Carl DeMaio and Dave Roberts will not be the last to be subjected to this political gay baiting and false sexual accusations. Welcome to the return of McCarthyism.

The 9th District Council campaign

Well this campaign is already heating up with Ricardo Flores and Georgette Gomez in the lead for right now, and that could change if Caridad Sanchez decides to enter the race, but many feel she will probably not run. I have had lunch with both Flores and Gomez and spoken with Sanchez and to be very honest all three would make for a good solid progressive councilmember, but of course each has their own style and personality that truly sets them apart.

Ricardo Flores’ former boss was Todd Gloria and he is a staunch LGBT rights supporter and Georgette Gomez is an out and proud lesbian.

Al Best

The 9th Council District residents are a majority Latino community but there are some very heavily LGBT neighborhoods with high voter turnout records in this district, formerly that of Councilman Todd Gloria but now Councilwoman Marti Emerald.

Rumors are that the local gay Democratic club and central committee members are leaning toward Gomez or Sanchez but everything could change in a year as we all know in politics. Ricardo Flores is expected to be able to raise a lot of money and as a chief of staff and endorsement of Councilwoman Emerald he will remain as one of the top two front runners.

Al Best Memorial
Sunday, June 28
2 p.m. at The Center

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Celebration of self Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:14:07 +0000

You may be a reader who has discovered your own tendency toward dependency on substances that cause persistent disruption of relationships, work, education and support systems. Wherever you fall on the continuum, I encourage you to read on and discover the opportunity for recovery and celebrating your life!

Speaking of celebration, we are just weeks away from our Pride Festival and Parade! San Diego Pride is the largest civic event for the city of San Diego. Our first Pride event in 1974 started out as a yard sale and a potluck dinner with an informal parade to Balboa Park! The Pride festivities of 2015 offer a wonderful way to celebrate ourselves this summer as we join hundreds of thousands of other LGBT individuals, each uniquely different and sharing the same excitement of our community! For so many members of the LGBT community, the festivities represent an enormous challenge to stay sober and avoid the triggering situations related to early recovery from addictive use of substances.

We are a proud community, and this is our opportunity to cheer each other on and have a fun-filled weekend expressly set aside for us! From a quiet communal Pride Day breakfast with friends to the adrenaline-fueled dance party deep into the night, we as a community embrace our Pride events with enthusiasm and gratitude to the trailblazers in our society.

Sadly in the LGBT community, celebrations have gone hand in hand with an underlying assumption that good times can only be had partying the night away with no memory of what happened. When did we start believing the lie that we needed this to have fun and accept ourselves just as we are?

As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, let’s turn our focus to establishing a community engaged in our health and welfare. The Pride Institute gives some guidelines for recognizing a substance use problem. They say that these are several symptoms of substance dependence: you have to drink more alcohol to achieve the same effects as before, you’re thinking about drinking (or using) all the time, you have problems trying to give up substance use and you experience disruptions to work, relationships and social activities because of it.

On a daily basis, the individual contemplating changing addictive patterns of substance use is faced with multiple triggering events leading to ongoing dependence on substances to manage social situations, life stress and underlying mental health issues. Researchers Prochaska and DiClement created the stages of change model in 1983. This universally-used model of how we change behaviors describes how we go from pre-contemplation to contemplation, then to preparation and action. In the pre-contemplation stage, a person is not considering change at all. The old saying that “ignorance is bliss” applies here. Pre-contemplation is the stage of not being ready to make changes in lifestyle behaviors. Once you move to contemplation, you may be ambivalent about change or “sitting on the fence.” You’re considering the changes as some that you might make at some point in your life. In the preparation stage, you’re experiencing some change and may be “testing the waters.” This is the time when you start to look at your treatment options on the Internet and when you pick up the phone and make the initial inquiry about your treatment options. Then, in the action stage, you begin practicing your new behaviors. Prochaska once said, “The only mistake you can make is to give up on yourself.” I encourage you to consider what stage you’re in. Are you reaching out for help with the patterns of living that are wreaking havoc on your life?

Many times, it just seems easier to focus on the partying than the celebration of who we are born to be. If you are struggling with addictive use of substances and identify with the resulting problems of addiction, then help is readily available to you. All of us know others who have lost their lives way too soon and still others who have lost touch with their purpose due to addiction.

The decision to seek treatment is a step of courage and determination to celebrate your true self. Foundations San Diego is part of the Hillcrest community and offers resources and treatment for the LGBT individuals who are curious about making change and regaining their authenticity.

Patricia Bathurst, MFT is the director of Foundations San Diego, an outpatient recovery facility located in Hillcrest at 3930 Fourth Ave., Suite 301, San Diego, CA 92103. Ms. Bathurst is a certified advanced addiction counselor, as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Questions for Pat? Contact Foundations San Diego at 619-321-1575.

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Highlighting some transgender specific initiatives Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:14:03 +0000

When referring to the “LGBT” community, most people mean a group that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. When referring to legislation, however, the LGBT label is often slapped on anything that benefits lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.

The change in conjunction is small, but far from harmless. Protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity are not inseparable for a number of reasons: sometimes because of how the discrimination was enacted, as with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT); sometimes because of how the “fix” is written, as with some attempts to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA); and sometimes because the realities of the discrimination require different fixes, as with some medical needs.

With so much of the focus on same-sex marriage, it seems only fair to highlight some transgender specific initiatives.

San Diego

San Diego’s municipal code has prohibited discrimination based on gender identity for some time. In April, the Council voted unanimously to add gender identity to the nondiscrimination policy for choosing City contractors. Last week, the City’s Human Relations Commission endorsed a letter to the mayor and City Council in support of gender inclusive restrooms.


Equality California’s legislative goals for 2015 include three bills specific to the transgender community.

AB 87. California already prohibits lawyers from kicking out a potential juror based on sexual orientation, among other things. AB 87 would expand that protection to more groups, including transgender individuals.

SB 703. Much like the recent action by the San Diego City Council, this bill would prevent California from doing business with companies that discriminated against transgender people with regard to benefits. The legislation is broadly worded, but the main impact would be on healthcare coverage.

SB 731. As it stands, an adolescent rejected by their family because of their gender identity could be placed in a youth home based on their anatomic sex. SB 731 would ensure that gender identity is taken into account when placing foster youth.

The Personal Privacy Protection Act. Signature gathering will likely begin shortly on a ballot initiative to force people to use government facilities “in accordance with their biological sex.” Low voter turnout in 2014 dropped the number of signatures needed to reach the ballot, so 2016 could see a Prop-8-like battle over basic safety and dignity for transgender Californians.


The most recent attempts to pass ENDA included protections based on gender identity, but it has yet to be introduced in this Congress. Given the concerns about religious exemptions and the Republican controlled Congress, it probably won’t be.

Allowing transgender Americans to serve openly in the military is more promising. Transgender service is barred by medical codes, so it wasn’t affected by the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Fortunately, those codes can be changed without Congressional action. Positive developments are an American Medical Association statement that there is no medical reasons to ban transgender service, and recent comments by Defense Secretary Ash Carter that he is “very open minded about” changing the policy.

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Celebrating and not celebrating trans lives Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:13:58 +0000

Sylvia Rivera

“So Stonewall is a great, great foundation,” transgender activist and Stonewall veteran icon Sylvia Rivera wrote in her 2001 essay Bitch on Wheels. “It began the modern day liberation movement, like we spoke before about the Daughters of Bilitis and the Mattachine Society. Yes, there were lots of other little groups but you had to be what they called themselves the ‘normal homosexuals.’ They wore suits and ties. One of the first demonstrations that they had, lesbians who’d never even worn dresses were wearing dresses and high heels to show the world that they were normal. Normal? Fine.”

This isn’t our San Diego Pride issue, and yet San Diego Pride has become an issue in this LGBT Weekly issue celebrating the trans community. When trying to organize a photo of a bunch of trans subcommunity members of the LGBT community who weren’t the “usual suspects” of go-to names and faces for the cover for this current issue, I ran into a current pitting of community members against each other.

The issue that’s dividing the two groups is a direct action planned for the San Diego Pride Parade trans contingent – a group slewing generally younger, with many people of color are planning a “die-in” at spots throughout the parade route to highlight the nine trans women of color who’ve been murdered this year to date.

From one perspective, the subjective reason for the divide could be described as a subgroup of the trans community not listening to another of the community that just wants to celebrate Pride – this year the trans community as a whole is the collective Grand Marshal – and not be pulled into a direct action that will take away from that spirit of celebration.

From another perspective, the subjective reason could be described in terms of one group of community members who value conformity and compliance with rules trying to silence the subgroup of marginalized trans community members who feel unheard – members who want to rekindle the spirit of fiery change that was the initial spirit of the Stonewall riots that not only have the privileged trans community members forgotten, but that their cisgender lesbian, gay and bisexual broader community members have forgotten as well.

After all, the reason the LGBT community celebrates Pride throughout the nation during the summer months is because the Stonewall Riots happened in June – in early summer – of 1969.

“I mean, before gay liberation,” Rivera, who passed in 2002, also wrote in that same essay, “it was the same thing: ‘drag queens over there; we’re over here.’ The world came tumbling down in 1969 and on the fourth anniversary of the Stonewall movement, of the Stonewall riot, the transgender community was silenced because of a radical lesbian named Jean O’Leary, who felt that the transgender community was offensive to women because we liked to wear makeup and we liked to wear miniskirts.

“Anyway, Jean O’Leary started the big commotion at this rally [Christopher Street Liberation Day, 1973],” Rivera continued. “… I had to fight my way up on that stage and literally, people that I called my comrades in the movement, literally beat the sh** out of me. That’s where it all began, to really silence us. They beat me, I kicked their asses. I did get to speak, I got my points across.”

O’Leary was said to have orchestrated the violence against Rivera; O’Leary took the occasion of her later speech on that same day at the Christopher Street Liberation Day (a precursor to Pride celebrations) to call … to label in vitriolic tone …Sylvia Rivera as “a man.” The silencing was of someone who was never mainstream; someone who was never “normal.”

With all the gains we in the trans community have made in the past year, with all there is to celebrate in social and political movement that has occurred the past decades, there is a marginalized population of trans people – a subgroup of the trans community I belong to – who are repeated victims of violence and homicide.

So whose perspective is the right perspective in this San Diego Pride Parade contingent controversy? The one of the trans community members who believe it should be one of pure celebration of the trans community’s progress? Or, is it the one that also recognizes that with celebration comes a need to highlight that there are marginalized portions of the trans community who the LGBT community, and broader society, need to be exposed to in a stark manner?

“Mainstreaming, normality, being normal,” Rivera added. “I understand how much everybody likes to fit into that mainstream gay and lesbian community. You know, it used to be a wonderful thing to be avant-garde, to be different from the world. I see us reverting into a so-called liberated closet because we, not we, yous of this mainstream community, wish to be married, wish for this status. That’s all fine. But you are forgetting your grassroots, you are forgetting your own individual identity. I mean, you can never be like them.”

Even though in 1969 many of our trans forerunners thought of themselves as being part of the gay community and Gay Liberation, we weren’t considered mainstream enough or normal enough, in just a few short years that followed, to have many of our gay and lesbian community peers consider us their community siblings. There are reasons why the T has its own letter in LGBT.

So, now in 2015 the argument can reasonably be made here in America’s Finest City that each of the two subgroups of the trans subcommunity of the LGBT community pitted against each other aren’t listening to the other; that each subgroup are on some level participating in the potential silencing of the voices of the other subgroup.

In becoming mainstream and celebrated in American culture, is the trans community lulling itself into believing it really ever can be a like them in the LG portion of the LGBT community, or ever be a like them in broader society? Or is Sylvia Rivera right about all of us in the LGB and especially the T community – “[we]” can never be like them.”

What I know is when I wanted to take a photo of a bunch of trans subcommunity members of the LGBT community who weren’t the “usual suspects” of go-to names and faces, I ran into a current pitting of community members against each other over what the trans community should be messaging to its siblings in the LGBT community, as well as to broader society, at this transgender moment.

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