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Online Extra: Gays Across America: LGBT, other groups want people to report incidents

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi
Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi  

The Oakland-based Transgender Law Center is urging hate crime victims to report incidents to "Communities Against Hate," a joint project through which LGBT, black, other people of color, and communities are working to build a national hate crimes database. The groups also hope to link victims to resources and services.

Reports can be made by calling 1-844-NO-HATE (1-844-966-4283) or online at https://communitiesagainsthate.org.

In a news release, TLC Executive Director Kris Hayashi said, "The news this weekend from New York that another transgender woman, Brenda Bostick, has died after being viciously assaulted is a bleak reminder of the crisis of violence against transgender people. That crisis, fueled by hateful rhetoric and public policy, has for too long gone unseen and unacknowledged."

According to TLC, Bostick was the 10th trans woman of color, and the ninth black trans woman, to be murdered in 2017 that advocates know about.

Communities Against Hate, organized by the Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, brings together 11 organizations that are working to document hate crimes and calling for action to be taken to end them.

"The hotline is a resource for organizations and individuals working to combat hate in their communities," TLC stated. "Through the hotline, trained staff and volunteers will provide access to legal resources, including pro bono attorneys when appropriate, and connections to mental health services or other community organizations and resources."

In response to an email from the Bay Area Reporter, Officer Grace Gatpandan, a San Francisco police spokeswoman, recently said that 31 hate crimes were reported in the city in 2016, compared with 28 in 2015 and 22 in 2014. Breakdowns by LGBT status and other categories weren't available.

Hearing set on Prop 8 videos

A hearing on whether to unseal videotapes of the trial over California's former Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban has been set for June 28. U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick will oversee the hearing.

San Francisco's KQED public radio and TV station filed a motion in April to unseal the tapes, which have never been broadcast in full.

Prop 8 backers have until May 31 to file their responses, and replies to this are due June 7.

The trial, which took place in 2010 in San Francisco and is formally known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, ended with U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, now retired, ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. The case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2013 that the ban's backers didn't have standing to defend it.

The high court's decision essentially killed the prohibition, and in 2015, the justices ruled 5-4 that same-sex marriages should be allowed nationwide.

"The sealing of the video of the Prop 8 trial proceedings can no longer be justified by any compelling interest," wrote Thomas Burke, an attorney for KQED, in a motion filed April 28 with the U.S. District Court for Northern California. "Rather, the interests to the public in unsealing the videotapes now far outweigh the privacy or other interests of judicial administration. While the public interest in seeing the open work of government remains compelling, any privacy interests of those involved in the trial have disappeared almost entirely, because the trial is no longer ongoing and the appeal has been decided."

Walker, who later came out as gay, initially said that the trial should be broadcast live, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that local rules in effect at the time of the trial prohibited such broadcast.

After the trial concluded, Academy Award-winner Marisa Tomei and other actors re-enacted scenes from the trial. Burke noted that an episode of the recent ABC miniseries "When We Rise" included a recreation of the trial.

In an email to Burke included with Burke's court filing, Charles Cooper, the attorney for Prop 8's backers, said, "I have counseled with my clients, and they would not be willing to unseal the trial video, or any portion of it." Cooper hasn't responded to the Bay Area Reporter's requests for comment.

 

Gays Across America is a column addressing LGBTQ issues nationwide. It runs most Tuesdays. Please submit comments or column ideas to Seth Hemmelgarn at (415) 875-9986 or s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com .

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