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SB 48 Referendum: THE Epic Struggle for Queer Rights in California (tags)

Roland Palencia, executive director of the Queer lobbying group Equality California (EQCA), calls the radical Right's attempt to get rid of the FAIR Education Act, also known as SB 48, "the greatest threat in years to LGBT [Queer] Californians." The Act adds Queer people, people with disabilities and Pacific Islanders to the list of communities whose "role and contributions" to American and Californian history and society must be acknowledged in lessons and textbooks used by the California public schools. Radical-Right activists, including some of the same people who successfully eliminated marriage equality in California via Proposition 8, plan to make it a referendum on the very existence and legitimacy of the Queer community and will likely wage an ugly campaign based on many negative stereotypes of Queer people. Palencia's group is fighting back by setting up a broad, mostly non-Queer coalition, and he, EQCA regional field director George Zander and openly Queer San Diego Unified School District board member Kevin Beiser spoke at the predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club August 25 to mobilize its members to join the campaign and help organize the grand coalition.

Redistricting, Open Primaries and the Challenges for Democrats (tags)

At the January 27 meeting of the predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club, Jess Durfee, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party and former president of the club, explained the challenges the party faces as the citizens’ redistricting commission begins work on redrawing legislative lines for the 2012 election and beyond. He also talked about California’s new open primary law, which also goes into effect in 2012 and allows members of any political party, or of no party at all, to vote in primary races, with the two top finishers from the primary running against each other in the general election even if they’re from the same political party. California’s Democratic leadership opposed both these changes, but Durfee’s presentation focused on making them work and protecting the party’s interests in this new electoral environment.

Openly Gay Fort Worth City Councilmember Headlines Queer Democrats' Freedom Awards (tags)

As a boy, openly Gay Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns was bullied by schoolmates and driven to thoughts of suicide. One of his friends, a boy from Oklahoma, actually did kill himself. As an elected official, Burns spoke October 12 in the Fort Worth City Council chambers and talked about his past in a speech that was heard 'round the world through YouTube and the power of the Internet. On November 13 Burns came to San Diego as the keynote speaker for the 35th Annual Freedom Awards of the predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club and talked about teen suicide and the need for renewed commitment on the part of Queer Democrats and progressives to elect officials whose actions will make Queer teens safer.

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 Split on 79th Assembly District Race (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club revealed itself dramatically split in the Democratic primary race for the 79th Assembly District. City Council president Ben Hueso is running a classic “insider” campaign, relying on major endorsements and fundraising clout. His principal challenger, Sweetwater Union High School District board member Pearl Quiñones, is seeking the office in a progressive grass-roots campaign in the tradition of Assemblymember Lori Saldaña (who endorses her) and City Councilmember Donna Frye. The club was unable to reach the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement, and ultimately voted to rate both candidates “acceptable.”

Queer Democrats Endorse Saldaña, Take No Position on County Term Limits (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club endorsed Assemblymember Lori Saldaña for County Supervisor but failed to take a position on whether to impose term limits on the Board of Supervisors. Supporters of the term-limit initiative, being sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said the five Republican incumbents on the board are so entrenched only limiting their future terms will get them out. Opponents said that Democrats have historically opposed term limits and if they supported them for the Republican-dominated Board of Supervisors, they'd be perceived as hypocrites the next time they try to ease-them for the Democratic-controlled state legislature.

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.

Queer Democrats Celebrate Women’s Equality Day (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club celebrated Women’s Equality Day August 27 with a program featuring the club’s women’s caucus chair Kate Lyon, California NOW president Patty Bellasalma, Congressional candidate Francine Busby and Assemblymember Lori Saldaña discussing the history of feminist activism in the U.S. and the continuing difficulty of electing women to public office. The club members also considered an initiative to impose term limits on the members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, but decided to delay taking a position on that for a month.

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.

Queer Democrats Debate Proposition 8 Response (tags)

The wounds were still raw from the California Supreme Court decision upholding Proposition 8, the state’s voter-approved ban on marriage for same-sex couples, when the predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club met May 28 and debated how the club should respond. The members heard from attorney Charlie Pratt, who had been at the sit-in at the County Administrative Center's marriage license bureau the day before and had been singled out for special harassment by police, and also discussed whether and when the Queer community should mount its own ballot initiative campaign to repeal Proposition 8.

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.

San Diego Queer Democrats Endorse Beach Booze Ban (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club voted September 25 to endorse Proposition 4 on the November 4 ballot in the city of San Diego, which would make the temporary ban on alcohol consumption at city beaches permanent. Opponents have argued that the ban is an attack on individual freedom, but the club rejected that argument and instead supported beach-area residents who say the ban has improved their quality of life.

Queer Democrats Hold Love-Fest for School Board Candidates (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club overwhelmingly endorsed three candidates in local school board races in a love-fest meeting February 28 that contrasted dramatically with their previous one on January, a knock-down, drag-out debate between incumbent city attorney Mike Aguirre and two of his challengers (one of whom has since left the race). They also rated openly Gay Republican Carl DeMaio "unacceptable" as a candidate for the San Diego City Council.

San Diego's Controversial City Attorney 'Speaks (tags)

To his supporters, San Diego city attorney Mike Aguirre is an activist and truth-teller who'sone of the few local elected officials dealing seriously with the city's budget crises. To his opponents, ranging from the Right-wing San Diego Union-Tribune to the city employee unions, he's a loud-mouthed obstructionist who's dividing the city and costing it money. The controversy was on display January 24, when Aguirre and two of his election oppoennts debated at the predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club.

Queer Democrats Fail to Endorse for President (tags)

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club failed to endorse a candidate for President after a contentious meeting November 29. On the first ballot, Hillary Clinton received eight votes, John Edwards seven, Barack Obama three, Dennis Kucinich two and 14 club members voted against making an endorsement at all. The club also voted to oppose statewide Proposition 91 on the February ballot, which would block legislators from using gas tax money to balance the state budget.

S.F. Assemblymember Leno Speaks on Same-Sex Marriage (tags)

San Francisco Assemblymember Mark Leno was the keynote speaker at the predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club's Freedom Banquet fundraiser October 6. He talked about the bill for marriage equality for same-sex couples he's pushed through the California legislature twice, the likelihood that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto it (as he did in 2005) and the various radical-Right initiative proposals to ban marriage for same-sex couples in California forever.

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