Inside Alice This Month!
- February Membership Meeting: Monday, February 10, 2014, 6:30 - 8:00 PM
- Co-Chair Column: Zoe Dunning -- "A Seat at the Table"
- "2013: Our Successes Are Not Done, and Our Successes Are Not Enough," by Ron Flynn
- "LGBT History and Context on our Unique 2014 Assembly Race," by Reese Isbell
- "Alice Looks West," by Joel Engardio
- February Member Profile: Shaun Haines
- Alice February Happenings
- Alice Looks Back at 2013 as We Look Forward to 2014! Photos.
Alice February Meeting!
Monday, February 10, 2014, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
San Francisco LGBT Center, Room 301
Alice welcomes Supervisor Scott Wiener, as well as other experts and involved parties to discuss upcoming legislation and debate around the Soda Tax and Rec and Park tree projects in the Westside. Please join us!
A Seat at the Table
Alice Board, Co-Chair
I’m exited to write my first column as Alice Co-Chair, and honored and humbled to serve alongside my fellow Co-Chair Ron Flynn. I would like to extend my gratitude to my predecessor, Martha Knutzen, and thank her for her dedication and leadership to this club and the Democratic Party over many years. I am glad to have her wisdom and advice as she continues on in the role of Immediate Past Co-Chair of Alice.
This first column is both a tribute to Alice's rich history as well as a call for your engagement as we look forward to 2014.
As a member or ally, you have probably attended one of our membership meetings, or come to our annual Pride Breakfast we produce every June on Pride Sunday. You might not know, though, that this club was the first registered LGBT Democratic Club in the nation. Alice was founded in 1971 by Jim Foster, a gay rights activist who had been organizing to elect pro-gay candidates in San Francisco for several years. Until that time, there had been some gay and lesbian advocacy groups, but gay political goals had never been incorporated directly into the platform of a major American political party. Foster chartered Alice to initiate gay advocacy within the Democratic Party and led the way for many more LGBT Democratic Clubs across the country. The club has a proud tradition and, of course, it all happened right here in San Francisco.
My friends who are not as politically active ask, why become involved in a Democratic Club, or an LGBT one at that? Well, because public policy impacts every one of us. Every candidate elected to represent us, and every ballot measure that gets approved by the voters makes a difference in our daily lives. Decisions regarding our drinking water, our educational policies, our LGBT youth and seniors, our parks and our taxes, in addition to dozens of other issues, are left to the voters and our elected officials. Democratic clubs play a vital part in organizing like-minded citizens with a specific interest – a neighborhood, a demographic – and using their collective power to endorse candidates and initiatives. These clubs support their endorsees with direct mail, field volunteers and phone banks to help them win on election day. In the past few years alone, Alice members have walked hundreds of precincts and even written personalized post cards reminding targeted registered voters to get out and vote for the club’s endorsees. It’s because of Alice’s strength in helping its endorsees win at the ballot that it has established a well-earned reputation as one of the most influential and effective Democratic Clubs in the city and in the state. We do this all with a volunteer board and with the generous contributions of money and time from members like you.
I’m excited about what 2014 has ahead for us – a competitive Assembly District 17 race, five incumbent Supervisors up for reelection, and what appears will become a robust list of state and local ballot measures. I hope you will join us in 2014 by getting involved in our club’s activities and supporting Alice. Together we can give our community that critically important "seat at the table". Because as Missouri State Senator Jolie Justus likes to say, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” I hope to see you at an Alice membership meeting soon!
2013: Our Successes Are Not Done, and Our Successes Are Not Enough
Alice Board, Co-Chair
2103 was an amazing year for LGBT rights in the law. We entered 2013 with momentum, a chance to make history. And history we made.
As the year started, we had just gone from seven states to ten that recognized full marriage equality; with Maine, Maryland, and Washington voting for equality on election in day in November. But that was just the beginning. In 2013 we won marriage equality in Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois and New Mexico (and briefly, gasp, in Utah). And of course, in California! Today, in 18 states and the District of Columbia, we can be married.
And when the Windsor decision came down, so did the Federal government’s willful discrimination against our legal marriages under the Orwellian-named Defense of Marriage Act. Married veterans now get death benefits. Widows and widowers get Social Security Benefits. Bi-National LGBT couples can come out of the shadows. When the United States Supreme Court recognized LGBT families, our lives changed forever. And on Pride weekend! Wow, what an amazing party that was.
We also had another huge success this year. AB-1266. The California School Success and Opportunity Act, helps us meet our obligation to all of our students: our education system must provide a quality, safe education for all students, including transgender students. How could anyone be opposed to giving dignity and respect to all of our students? Unbelievably, almost 500,000 Californians signed a petition to overturn the law. If our opponents in fact gathered enough signatures, we will be in for the fight of our lives.
What a year. But our successes are not done, and our successes are not enough.
Marriage equality cases have been filed in many more states. In Michigan, a trial will begin this month, the first marriage equality since Perry. Rumor has it that the right has a new crop of “expert” witnesses, ones even less qualified than the ones who hid in the shadows in Perry. We have many more states to win over, but history in our side.
And even if we avoid the fight over AB-1266, the all-out effort to overturn it is alarming. It makes clear that the fringe-right is betting on an age-old divide and conquer strategy. They intend to go after the Transgender community with the sick stereotypes: it is a choice, it is perverted, it is against God, and it hurts children. Those arguments should sound familiar, they used them against our entire community for years, and they actually worked until recently. We as a community must stand firm against these discriminatory tactics. We also must go further and embrace full equality for the Transgender community.
What is next? Enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, with protections for the entire LGBT community. Our community will never be fully equal until women and people of color are not only fully valued, but also equally compensated in the workplace. Violence continue to hurt us, both from those who want us to go away, and from within our community in the form of domestic violence. In January, in a case involving the composition of juries, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made clear that laws that negatively impact the LGBT community face heightened-judicial scrutiny. This is huge step forward.
So we made history in 2013. Now we have to get to work to make sure that the gains we have made are not reversed, and that our entire community benefits from our gains. Please come join me and my new Co- Chair, Zoe Dunning, as Alice kicks off 2014.
LGBT History and Context on our Unique 2014 Assembly Race
Alice Em and PAC Board, Former Co-Chair
For the last 20 years, no straight-identified person has run for and won the San Francisco Assembly District covering the eastern half of the City. Since Willie Brown’s final run for Assembly in 1994 the candidates and elected officials from this seat have all come from our LGBT community: 1996-2002 Carole Migden; 2002-2008 Mark Leno; 2008-2014 Tom Ammiano. Each of them went to Sacramento as Alice’s endorsed candidate.
This year, term limits have opened the seat up to new candidates. And once again an LGBT-identified candidate is running for the seat. However, for the first time since 1994, a candidate who identifies as a straight-ally is also running. Both candidates have credible chances to win this seat. This new scenario certainly raises questions about our LGBT representation, community growth over the last 20 years, and the concept of a ‘gay seat.’
So what has changed over the last 20 years in respective to LGBT candidacies? In 1996 when San Francisco elected Carole Migden to the Assembly, there was only one other LGBT-identified person in the state legislature. Sheila Kuehl ran in 1994 from Santa Monica as an openly lesbian candidate and won, becoming the first LGBT-identified person in the Assembly, ever. Migden from San Francisco joined her in 1996 and became the second. It took another four years, but in 2000, two more lesbians went to the Assembly: Los Angeles’ Jackie Goldberg and San Diego’s Christine Kehoe, while Kuehl jumped up to the Senate as the first in that chamber, ever.
In 2002 the four women created the first LGBT Caucus (http://lgbtcaucus.legislature.ca.gov/) in the California legislature, modeled after the historic African-American Caucus (formed in 1967), Latino Caucus (1973), and the then newly-founded Asian & Pacific Islander Caucus (2001). Over the decade of the 2000’s, four more LGBT-identified electeds joined the Caucus, creating a group of state representatives who were sent from mostly urban districts with strong LGBT populations.
Things changed quickly for our community statewide and by 2010 another five went to Sacramento. This time, they weren’t just being sent from the usual urban centers; the new crop of openly LGBT officials represented diverse areas of the state, including the likes of Livingston, Menlo Park, Stockton, and Bell Gardens. LGBT candidates were running in races, and often winning, in places all over California for elections at the local, state, and even federal levels. By 2012, the state of California even had its first LGBT member of Congress—not from San Francisco or Los Angeles or San Diego or any of those other urban cores, but from the quieter world of Riverside!
So what does this all mean for us here in San Francisco regarding our 20-year-old ‘gay seat’ covering our large and active LGBT population? Personally, I know the power of having one of our own representing us. Working as an aide for Mark Leno in the Assembly and Senate showed me what can be accomplished, and how we can create change, when we have someone living open and proud in this role. As such, I personally take into account someone being from our own community very seriously when determining my choice in an election. I don’t always end up voting for every LGBT candidate, but I certainly give them each great respect and admiration for being out and proud and being a representative of our lives.
On the flip side, I think we’ve all noticed a growing amount of understanding and support from the straight community of who we are and our issues. Our straight allies throughout the City, state, and nation have helped to create great positive change on our issues, exponentially so in the last decade. Were it not for our straight allies and their stalwart work in often difficult times, we would not currently have marriage equality in California and an increasing number of other states. Nowadays, the LGBT-sponsored legislation in Sacramento is pushed even further forward by many straight lawmakers seeking out opportunities to work with us. Through straight allies working closely with the aforementioned LGBT Caucus, the statewide organization Equality California, and their own individual district’s growing numbers of open LGBT constituents, unprecedented pro-LGBT legislative accomplishments have been made, many sponsored and pushed by these straight-allies.
This year, in San Francisco, we have a new type of choice before us for our Assembly representation: an open and proud gay member of our own community or a straight-ally with a strong LGBT record. We all have much to consider in determining our upcoming vote in this election. Which person we choose to send to Sacramento this year will not necessarily tell us what new community changes or legislative achievements we will gain in the next 20 years. However, as we make our decisions individually in the voting booth, and as a community, we know it will be another step in the amazing journey we have made so far in such a short period of time. Alice has once again begun the club’s robust dialogue on its endorsements. I know we will give this decision for this special seat especially thoughtful and careful consideration. As members, be sure to be part of this year's unique conversation and upcoming vote.
Alice Looks West
Alice Board, Programs Committee
Alice is made some history last year by looking West -- the Westside of San Francisco, that is. We’ve been around 40 years, but rarely gave much thought to what was on the other side of the curtain of fog that hangs above Twin Peaks and divides San Francisco into two very different cities.
The Eastside is what everyone knows and loves about San Francisco: the Castro’s gay Mecca, the Rice-a-Roni cable cars and the film noir setting of North Beach.
The Westside is like a suburb within the city limits, with detached single-family homes and yards. It’s also the most conservative part of San Francisco, where actual Republicans live (10 percent of the city’s voters). Nearly half the voters in some precincts on San Francisco’s Westside even voted to ban same-sex marriage as recently as 2008.
Yet a rapid demographic shift on the Westside – a largely elderly population dying off and many LGBT and Asian-American families moving into homes that had been occupied by one owner for 50 years – means the time is right for Alice to make its presence known West of Twin Peaks.
Westside neighborhoods like Miraloma Park and Midtown Terrace are quickly becoming “Castro West” with the number of gay and lesbian couples settling into two-bedroom homes with formal dining rooms that aren’t cheap but can be purchased for the cost of a smaller Eastside condo.
While the new Westside settlers tend to be moderate on fiscal matters since they are homeowners, they are much more socially liberal than their predecessors.
Last fall, Alice held a general membership meeting on the Westside for the first time. It was standing room only in the West Portal Playground Club house where state Sen. Mark Leno was our featured speaker.
I am an Alice Board member and Westside resident who shared his story during the 2012 campaign season as the first openly gay candidate to run for supervisor in District 7. A lesbian couple living in one of San Francisco most conservative precincts sent me a note saying “Thank you for running in the non-gay part of San Francisco – even though there are a lot of us out here.”
Alice wants to acknowledge and celebrate the LGBT residents living on San Francisco’s Westside. Now, Alice is everywhere.
February Member Profile
Alice Board, Communications Committee
As a San Francisco native, my roots have enabled me to form solid connections with various communities in our city. I know the people – many have become my extended family. From the Financial District to the Castro, the Mission to the Richmond, Haight Ashbury to the Excelsior, the Bayview to Fillmore, SoMa to the Sunset, Ingleside to Hayes Valley - where I live today in Lower Pacific Heights and beyond, this city will forever be a part of my heart.
Our home and communities are evolving at exponential rates. The inequities of life for a multitude of minority groups of all ethnic and economic backgrounds have compelled me to get involved in shaping public policy. I have vowed to take an active role in our community to help guide its development. I joined Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic group to obtain a real world education with regards to the political process.
Vocationally my future is clear; I seek to extend my social reach and become a public servant in a role of leadership. The first steps on my journey have taught me many valuable lesions. It has been my calling to share these experiences. I hope to lead by example and to motivate a younger generation to participate in the political process and a focus on effecting positive changes in our society. I have committed my existence to working towards ensuring that a day will come that everyone is empowered and can enjoy freedom, equality, and justice.
Alice February Happenings
10th Anniversary of the Winter of Love
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 5:00 - 6:00 PM
San Francisco City Hall, Rotunda
Celebrate 10 years since that historic day when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom took a courageous stand against marriage discrimination in San Francisco and married thousands of same-sex couples in San Francisco’s City Hall. Now, 10 years later, loving same-sex couples can legally marry in San Francisco and throughout California. It’s time to celebrate with family and friends. With Special Guest Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. Light refreshments will be served.
The Jewish Community Relations Council honoring Dennis Herrera and Therese Stewart
Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 6:00 PM
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
121 Steuart Street, Suite 301, San Francisco, CA 94105
The JCRC will be honoring Dennis Herrera and Therese Stewart for their incredible work on a number of issues that we deeply care about at JCRC, one of them being marriage equality. Given the legacy that Dennis and Therese have with their work on behalf of the LGBT community, we want to make sure that San Francisco’s LGBT leadership is invited to the dinner. The event is also on the same day as the 10 year anniversary as when Gavin Newsom initiated the marriages here in SF.
East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club Annual Membership Meeting
Wednesday, February 19th, 5:30 - 7:30 PM
West Berkeley Library, 1125 University Ave at San Pablo, Berkeley, CA 94704
The right-wing fringe - backed by the National Organization for Marriage and the Traditional Values Coalition - is at it again. This time they are attempting to place a referendum on the November ballot to repeal AB 1266, a law that took effect this year that requires schools to permit transgender students to participate in all school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with their gender identity. It is time for our community to get organized!
2013: A Look Back as We Look Forward to 2014!
Alice does Field!
Alice at the Castro Street Fair
Alice and Congresswoman Jackie Speier
Alice represented at 2013 AIDS Lifecycle
Alice and many electeds at the 2013 Alice Pride Breakfast