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Queer Democrats Host Love-Fest for Endorsed Candidates (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democrats for Equality turned their June 28 meeting into a love-fest for their candidates who survived the June 5 primary and moved on to the November 6 general election. In the first test of their new policy against endorsing or rating candidates who aren't 100 percent for marriage equality or reproductive choice, they also refused to consider an endorsement or a rating for socially conservative Democrat Juan Vargas for Congress in the 51st District.

San Diego Mayoral Candidates Address Queer Community (tags)

When this year's major candidates for Mayor of San Diego — City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher and Congressmember Bob Filner — addressed the Queer community March 28, the irony that gripped the room was that the two openly Queer candidates, DeMaio and Dumanis, were running to the right of the non-Queer Fletcher and Filner. DeMaio, who in other contexts has said he wants to be "the Scott Walker of San Diego," dominated the event with his anti-labor pension "reform" proposal and his refusal to acknowledge the leadership of San Diego's Queer community even though he is Queer himself.

Greg Palast Presents "Vultures’ Picnic" in San Diego (tags)

Though Greg Palast presented the manuscript of his book "Vultures' Picnic" to his publisher well before the Occupy movement started, when he spoke in San Diego November 15 to promote the book he made the line, "This is why we occupy," the refrain of his speech. Palast framed his tales of corporate greed and government enabling into a brief of support for the Occupy movement and its challenge to the "1 percent."

Queer Democrats Endorse Occupy San Diego (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democrats for Equality (formerly the San Diego Democratic Club) held their first regular meeting since the name change October 27 and overwhelmingly endorsed Occupy San Diego. The strongly worded resolution, based on one passed by the San Diego County Democratic Party, not only supported Occupy's right to protest and camp out in the Civic Center Plaza downtown but also ringingly endorsed the group's challenge to corporate power. The club also endorsed progressive Congressmember Bob Filner for Mayor of San Diego in the 2012 election.

Rally Kicks Off San Diego Pride Events (tags)

San Diego's Queer (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride events kicked off Friday, July 15 at a rally on the pride festival site in Balboa Park. The featured speakers were New Age author and credentialed minister Marianne Williamson, who talked about marriage equality as a straight supporter who has performed same-sex weddings, and Daniel Hernandez, the young, openly Gay aide to Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) who saved her life when she was shot at an outdoor rally in January. But the most powerful speaker was former San Diego Democratic Club president Larry Baza, who powerfully expressed the history of the Queer rights movement and the challenges it faces in the future.

RED: "Non-Binary" Person Rejects Male/Female Gender Duality (tags)

Red, who works at San Diego's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center, identifies themselves as non-binary: that is, neither male nor female but somewhere in a "cloud" of genders that rejects the idea that there are only two human gender identities, male and female. They gave an interview for the August 2011 Zenger's Newsmagazine in which they (you refer to a non-binary person as "they," "them" or "theirs" even if you're only referencing one individual) explained these new, unfamiliar concepts of gender that are beyond the experience of most people, including most Transgender people. Red and Zenger's editor/publisher Mark Gabrish Conlan discussed how both gender identity and sexual orientation are far more complex and fluid than either the straight or the Queer mainstream is willing to acknowledge.

Queer Democrats Warned About Threats to Reproductive Choice (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club heard two presentations at its June 23 meeting: a report on the likely strike by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) against southern California?s three largest grocery chains ? Ralph?s, Albertson?s and Vons ? and a warning about the potentially devastating effects of Republican and radical-Right policies against women?s rights to reproductive choice. Though the struggles of women to maintain safe and legal access to contraception and abortion may seem to have little in common with those of workers for decent pay, access to health care and other benefits, speakers on both issues noted how the radical Right has effectively linked them in the service of a paternalistic agenda that regards workers as mere cogs in a capitalist economy, and women as mere vessels for giving birth to the next generation.

Bisexual Forum Targets Invisibility and Bigotry (tags)

Bisexuals, the "B" in "LGBT," are actually the largest of the four groups represented by that unlovely acronym, but they're also among the most misunderstood people in the Queer community. They face bitter and often ferocious prejudice and bigotry not only from homophobic straight people but from Gays and Lesbians whose anti-Bi beliefs lead them to be threatened by the existence of Bi people. The Bisexual Forum of San Diego held a workshop at the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center May 12 to dispel some of the misunderstandings other Queers have towards Bisexuals and tell their stories, which often involve a dual coming-out process: first as Lesbian or Gay, then as Bi when they realize they can no longer deny either their same-sex or opposite-sex attractions.

San Diego Queers Split Over City Redistricting (tags)

San Diego?s Queer community has split over their response to the redrawing of district lines for the City Council. On one side are the members of the self-styled ?LGBT Redistricting Task Force,? who are pushing a major redesign of the city?s Queer-influenced District 3, pushing out the people of color and less affluent Queers in City Heights and adding more upscale neighborhoods like Mission Hills and Bankers? Hill to the Hillcrest/North Park core of the district. On the other side are Queer residents of the City Heights community of Azalea Park, who bought there because gentrification had priced them out of Hillcrest and North Park and now find themselves threatened that they will no longer be represented by a Queer Councilmember. The current District 3 is San Diego?s most ethnically diverse; the district proposed by the LGBT Redistricting Task Force and the Hillcrest Town Council will be 70 percent white.

S.A.M.E. Rallies Against Hate Crimes, Bullying (tags)

Drawn by several recent hate assaults on Queer people in the Hillcrest and North Park areas, members and supporters of the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (S.A.M.E.) rallied at the North Park Community Park Saturday afternoon, March 26. The rally featured speeches by openly Queer elected officials like Assemblymember Toni Atkins and School Board member Kevin Beiser, as well as ministers and others in support of Queer equality, but the most moving statements came from people who’d been on the receiving end of anti-Queer violence or bullying themselves: S.A.M.E. member René Torres, high school student Maya Conti and North Park resident Jacob Harshbarger, who wasn’t at the rally but sent a statement describing not only the attack against him but the lax response of local police and prosecutors. “I felt that the system that was supposed to be there to protect me was treating me as though it was my fault,” Harshbarger said.

Connor Maddocks Teaches "Trans 101" to Queer Marriage Group (tags)

The Queer community is increasingly referred to by the awkward acronym "LGBT" ? which stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender" ? but few Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals really understand the needs, struggles and the rights of Transgender people. To bridge that gap, the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (S.A.M.E.) invited Connor Maddocks, facilities manager at the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center and a female-to-male Transgender person, to make a presentation at their March 8 meeting. Maddocks' talk spanned a number of issues, from the physical aspects of a gender transition to the ways Transgender people are discriminated against and the hostility they sometimes face not only from heterosexuals but other Queers.

Over 100 San Diegans Demonstrate for Marriage Equality on Eve of Court Hearing (tags)

Over 100 San Diego supporters of marriage equality took to the streets in Hillcrest Saturday, December 4 as part of a statewide mobilization, "Unite to Make It Right," two days before the scheduled Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on the legal challenge to Proposition 8, which banned legal recognition of same-sex marriage in California. The event consisted of two rallies and a march in between, and speakers called for more militant activism and more aggressive challenges aimed at President Obama and other elected officials who have talked the talk of Queer equality but have done little or nothing to bring it about.

Foundation for Change Honors Local “Changemakers” Sept. 26 (tags)

The San Diego Foundation for Change held its annual “Changemaker Celebration” Sunday, September 26 on the Prado patio in Balboa Park. Part outdoor picnic, part bazaar of social-change organizations, part fundraiser and part short commemoration, the event honored longtime local activists Larry Baza of the San Diego Democratic Club, Victor Clark-Alfaro of Tijuana’s Bi-National Center for Human Rights, and the Environmental Health Coalition and its longtime director, Diane Takvorian.

“Equality Nine” Marriage Rights Demonstrators to be Arraigned Sept. 30 (tags)

The “Equality Nine” — Michael Anderson, Brian Baumgardner, Sean Bohac, Felicity Bradley, Kelsey Hoffman, Mike Kennedy, Zakiya Khabir, Chuck Stemke, and Cecile Veillard — are activists with the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (SAME) who were arrested at a sit-in outside the San Diego County Clerk's office August 19. They're scheduled for arraignment at the San Diego County Courthouse, 220 West Broadway downtown, Thursday, September 30, and they want supporters to come to the plaza outside the courthouse at noon that day to show support.

Marriage Victory Celebration Draws 3,000 to Hillcrest Streets (tags)

Account of the marriage equality celebration that occurred on the streets of Hillcrest, the San Diego neighborhood famous for its large Queer population, on August 4, 2010 — the day Judge Vaughn R. Walker announced his decision in the federal lawsuit challenging Proposition 8. Though Queer activists and allies have since been frustrated by the court-ordered delays in enforcing Walker's decision, they can be proud that a judge ruled that there is absolutely no rational basis for a ban on marriage between two partners of the same gender.

San Diego’s Queer Democrats Discuss Election Aftermath (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club heard from three local experts — San Diego County Democratic Party chair Jess Durfee, San Diego CityBeat editor David Rolland and political consultant Jennifer Tierney — on the aftermath of the June 8 primary election at their regular meeting June 24. The discussion centered mainly on how Democratic candidates like state gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown and local City Council candidate Howard Wayne can overcome the vast advantage of Republican money — and, in Brown's case, the multi-billion dollar personal fortune of his opponent, Meg Whitman. The club also took a position against SB 1070, the controversial anti-immigrant law recently passed by the Arizona state legislature.

Queer Pride Town-Hall Draws Small Crowd (tags)

In sharp contrast to the earlier meeting in January, a town-hall called by San Diego LGBT Pride February 22 drew only about 50 people and lasted just 45 minutes. Instead of a bitch-fest aimed at getting rid of the Pride board — whose members resigned and were replaced with respected community veterans who'd served on previous Prides — the February 22 meeting offered constructive discussion about the fate of the annual Pride parade and festival, including concerns from politically oriented Queer activists that by abolishing the annual pre-Pride rally, the former board had betrayed the true meaning of Pride.

Queer Democrats Can’t Agree on Marriage Strategy (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club discussed whether to seek the repeal of Proposition 8 in 2010 or 2012 at its regular meeting September 24 — and turned out to be as divided on that topic as the rest of California’s Queer community. The two major statewide Queer organizations, Equality California and the Courage Campaign, have taken totally different tacks on the issue. The Courage Campaign not only favors 2010 but is already organizing for the earlier date, while Equality California’s leaders are convinced that 2010 is premature. Both the club’s invited panelists and its own members differed widely on whether to go in 2010 or 2012, and both proposals for the club to take action on the issue were voted down by wide margins.

Marriage Equality Follies (tags)

The split between California's two leading statewide Queer equality groups, the Courage Campaign and Equality California, over whether to seek the repeal of the anti-marriage Proposition 8 in 2010 or 2012 is criminally stupid and a disaster for the Queer community. The Courage Campaign is energetically moving to create “facts on the ground” to force the rest of the community to join it in a premature push for a 2010 ballot initiative that will almost certainly lose. A later initiative would give the community more time to organize and build support — but a unified effort for 2010 would be better than a continued division that might produce not one, but two, losing initiative campaigns.

Don’t Rush Back to the Ballot on Marriage (tags)

The Queer community in California is asking itself the wrong question in the current debate over whether to try to repeal Proposition 8 at the ballot box in 2010 or 2012. Either date is too early, Mark Gabrish Conlan argues in this editorial from the July 2009 Zenger’s Newsmagazine. Rather than launch a premature initiative drive we will likely lose, organizing around this issue needs to occur outside the electoral process and take the form of nonviolent direct action and public education efforts to convince a majority of Californians that denying legal marriage to same-sex couples is an intolerable form of discrimination.

PBS Documentary on “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” Airs June 16 (tags)

The PBS documentary “Ask Not,” dealing with the human cost of the “don't ask, don't tell” policy that excludes open Queers from the U.S. military, will be shown nationwide on June 16 and in San Diego June 21 as part of the “Independent Lens” series. The show depicts individuals thrown out of the military under “don't ask, don't tell” and the Queer community's fight-back against the discriminatory policy. In a May 3 preview screening at the San Diego Public Library, activists working against “don't ask, don't tell” discussed why even progressive people who generally oppose America’s wars should be concerned about this issue.

One and One-Half Class Citizen (tags)

The California Supreme Court decision on May 26 upholding the validity of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage voters approved in last November’s election, but also ruling that the estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages in California between June 15 and November 4, 2008 were still legal, left the same-sex couples who got married in time (including this author) in an anomalous position. We can’t really call ourselves second-class citizens because our marriages are still in force, but we can’t call ourselves first-class citizens either because other couples with love and mutual commitment equal to our own can no longer follow suit. In a sense, the voters and the courts have granted us “special rights” we neither wanted nor expected.

Bisexual Forum of San Diego Hosts “Bisexuality Across Cultures” (tags)

The Bisexual Forum of San Diego County hosted an event on “Bisexuality Across Cultures” May 27. Though somewhat overshadowed by the anti-Proposition 8 protests that week, it was a compelling meeting which discussed the greater rigidity with which Americans define sexual orientations and roles than Europeans or Latin Americans. One speaker was a Bisexual living with blindness, who described a “hierarchy of discrimination” with people of color relatively more privileged than Queers, while people with disabilities are at the very bottom and often the subject of out-and-out devaluation of their lives (“I’d rather be dead than be … ”).

Over 4,000 Rally in San Diego Against Prop. 8 Decision (tags)

Over 4,000 people attended a march and rally in San Diego on May 26 denouncing the California Supreme Court's decision upholding Proposition 8, the initiative banning same-sex marriage in California, while simultaneously keeping in force the estimated 18.000 marriages between same-sex couples during the 4 1/2 months the court's previous ruling allowing them was in effect. The mood of the action was a combination of sorrow, hope and determination to put the issue before California voters again and campaign at the ballot box for the repeal of Proposition 8.

San Diego Hosts Meeting on Same-Sex Marriage Equality (tags)

The San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center hosted a town-hall meeting April 2 to discuss the future of marriage equality in the wake of the upcoming California Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state. Speakers included Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, other professionals and grass-roots activists like Fernando Lopez, whose group is organizing people to go talk to individuals one-on-one to make them aware of how Queer people suffer from not having access to civil marriage.

San Diego ACLU Addresses Repressive Ballot Initiatives (tags)

The San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) held its annual membership meeting February 13 and gave over the program to Delores Jacobs of the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center and Vince Hall of Planned Parenthood to discuss the long-term implications of Propositions 4 and 8 on last year's ballot. The measures attacked women's reproductive choice and Queer rights, respectively, and Jacobs and Hall noted that the radical Right uses proposals like these not only to gain membership and contributions but to drain the coffers of progressive organizations so they have less money to provide services to women and Queers.

My Friend, Christine Maggiore (tags)

The death of alternative AIDS activist Christine Maggiore came as a shock to me, not only because for 17 years she'd offered herself as living proof that a so-called "HIV-positive" diagnosis was not necessarily fatal but, more importantly, because she'd been a close personal friend for 15 years. Her death does not change any of the scientific facts that make the idea that HIV is the sole cause of AIDS not only wrong, but ridiculous; though supporters of the mainstream view of AIDS are exploiting it for propaganda, what it really underscores is the need for more basic research to document whether "HIV-positive" people who take the highly toxic AIDS medications actually live longer, healthier lives than those who don't.

Anti-Proposition 8 Protests in San Diego (tags)

The statewide wave of protests against the passage of anti-Queer, anti-marriage, anti-family Proposition 8 hit San Diego November 7 and 8 with a nighttime rally in Balboa Park November 7 and a march from Hillcrest to North Park, through San Diego's most Queer neighborhoods, the next day.

Queer Marriage Advocates Launch "Decline to Sign" Drive (tags)

Faced with a well-funded campaign to permanently ban same-sex marriage in the California constitution, Queer and Queer-friendly Californians are joining forces to mount a volunteer campaign to keep marraige equality opponents from getting the signatures they need to get their initiative on the ballot at all.

"Gay Marine Porn Star" Returns to L.A. Area (tags)

Rich Merritt, whose book "Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star" caused a stir whe it was published in 2005, will be returning to the Los Angeles area Tuesday, February 12. 7:30 p.m., when he appears at A Different Light Bookstore, 8853 Santa Monica Blv’d., to promote his new novel, "Code of Conduct." Set in the early 1990's, the book is about what happened to Gays in the U.S. military when President Bill Clinton promised to end the ban on Queers in the U.S. military — and then reneged in the face of massive political pressure and agreed to the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Open Letter re: the Orange County LGBT Center's ENDA support & Transgender Discr (tags)

An open letter regarding the Orange County Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center's support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which discriminates against the Transgender community. PLEASE REDISTRIBUTE!

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