Political Notebook: Hearing set for gay CA appellate presiding justice nominee Martinez

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday April 10, 2024
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Justice Gonzalo Martinez will have his confirmation hearing next month. Photo: Courtesy Governor's office
Justice Gonzalo Martinez will have his confirmation hearing next month. Photo: Courtesy Governor's office

In less than a month gay California appellate Justice Gonzalo Martinez is set to become the fourth out presiding justice on one of the state's courts of appeal. He is expected to be confirmed in early May to the top position on the 2nd District Court of Appeal's Division Seven.

As the Political Notebook first reported in March, Governor Gavin Newsom decided to elevate Martinez into the judicial leadership vacancy created by the retirement of Presiding Justice Dennis M. Perluss. Martinez had been serving as Newsom's deputy judicial appointments secretary until the governor appointed him to fill a vacancy on the 2nd District appellate bench in early 2023.

The Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed his judicial appointment last July. It will now take up his presiding justice nomination at 9 a.m. on May 14.

Martinez will be the first of three appeal court nominees the oversight body will vote on that Tuesday. Following his hearing will be ones for Superior Court Judges Natalie P. Stone and Tara Desautels to be associate appellate justices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.

Newsom nominated Stone, a Los Angeles County judge, to fill Martinez's vacant seat on the 2nd Court of Appeal's Division Seven. The appellate court covers the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo and is composed of eight divisions with four justices each.

Desautels, an Alameda County judge, was nominated by the governor to fill the vacancy created on the 1st District Court of Appeal's Division Two by his elevation of lesbian Justice Therese Stewart as its presiding justice.

The appellate court covers the Bay Area Region and has five divisions with four justices each. Serving as its administrative presiding justice is gay Justice Jim Humes.

The other out presiding justice is Laurie M. Earl, a lesbian who presides over the 3rd District Court of Appeal. Altogether there are six known out Court of Appeal members in the state.

Gay Associate Justice David Rubin joined the 4th District Court of Appeal's Division One last year. Gay Associate Justice Luis A. Lavin serves with Martinez in the 2nd District on its Division Three bench.

Martinez grew up the oldest of four children in the San Joaquin Valley where his non-English speaking immigrant parents worked as farm laborers. The first in his family to attend college, Martinez graduated from Harvard in 1998 and later earned his law degree from the Ivy League school in 2003.

Accepted into the bar a year later, Martinez worked at several law firms before becoming a partner in the Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Group at Squire Patton Boggs from 2007 to 2017. He spent two years as a deputy solicitor general in the California Attorney General's Office.

Martinez then returned to the law firm until joining Newsom's administration. He is married to tax attorney Raul A. Escatel.

Once confirmed to his new position, Martinez will earn an annual salary of $272,902. His confirmation hearing will be broadcast live via the California Courts Newsroom website at newsroom.courts.ca.gov/.

Those wishing to testify or send in written comments about Martinez's appointment, or that of the two associate justices, must do so by 5 p.m. on May 7. For those who want to testify at the hearing, they must state their request in writing and include a summary of the facts on which any testimony or opinion will be based.

Submissions via email are preferred and can be sent to [email protected]. For more information about the upcoming confirmation hearings, click here.

Gay SF treasurer kicks off reelection bid

San Francisco Treasurer-Tax Collector José Cisneros, the only gay citywide municipal elected officeholder, is officially kicking off his 2024 reelection bid in the Castro Thursday night. He is seeking a record sixth term on the November 5 ballot.

As the Political Notebook column noted in March, Cisneros is the longest-serving openly gay elected official in the city. First appointed to his position in 2004 by Newsom, then San Francisco's mayor, to fill a vacancy, Cisneros has not faced an opponent since his 2005 race for a full four-year term.

So far no one has filed papers to run against him this year, according to the city's elections department. Anyone wishing to seek the position has until 5 p.m. Friday, August 9, to file the required paperwork.

Speaking to the B.A.R. earlier this year, Cisneros had said he isn't expecting to be opposed this fall. Nonetheless, he pledged to still campaign for the seat.

"My feeling is I still have to take the election seriously. I think it comes as part of taking the job seriously," said Cisneros, who is married to longtime San Francisco Human Rights Commissioner Mark Kelleher.

Fulfilling that promise, Cisneros is holding his campaign kickoff Thursday, April 11, at The Academy. The LGBTQ social club is located at 2166 Market Street in the city's Castro district. Doors open at 5 p.m. with light hors d'oeuvres followed by the program at 5:30. The reception will wrap at 7:30.

The event also kicks off the social clubs' Our Academy Forum "Election 2024" series. It will feature various elected officials and candidates leading up to the fall ballot.

Attendees of the talk with Cisneros will "gain behind-the-scenes insights into City Hall from a financial perspective," according to an invite from the social club.

The event is free to attend and open to anyone in the public, not just Academy members. RSVPs are required and can be made online here.

While there is no cost to attend, Cisneros is using the event as a fundraiser. He is asking for donations starting at $100 that can be made online via the website ActBlue.

Op-artist holds gallery show

Dorian Katz, who created the Political Notebook's op-art offering for 2021, is holding her first solo show since 2017 when she was featured in the gallery at the Center for Sex & Culture in a show curated by Dorothy Santos. A queer Oakland resident, Katz had also curated various shows at the center's now-closed space in San Francisco.

Her artwork is being featured throughout April at Oakland queer-owned Crisis Club Gallery, located at 5887 San Pablo Avenue. Titled "Recent Drawings, 4 Groups, All Dirty by Poppers the Pony," it opened April 5 and will be accessible over the next three weekends.

"I haven't slowed down my output of art and am glad to be sharing my favorite drawings from the past few years," wrote Katz in an emailed invite to the show.

She created her cartoon steed character 18 years ago and renamed it Poppers the Pony in 2008. It is a play off the name gay men use to refer to nitrite inhalants sniffed during sex. Katz's work is often censored or shadowbanned on social media platforms since she touches on sexuality, queer themes, and often features more voluminous body shapes in the nude.

The gallery will be open from 2 to 7 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Katz will be present on the weekends and hosting different events during the open hours.

"There'll be a Zine Show N Tell & a hang out and make stuff (draw, craft, collage) session. I'm excited to do some deep hanging out in small groups," noted Katz.

For a list of the various events she is hosting tied to the show, click here.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on Equality California's 2023 report card for state legislators.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Threads @ This text will be the linkhttps://www.threads.net/@matthewbajko>.

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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