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04/19/2007


Medi-Cal Increases Accessibility Of Truvada, Eliminates Monthly HIV Testing Requirement

Truvada

California's Medi-Cal, a state welfare program serving low-income families, seniors, persons with disabilities, children in foster care, pregnant women, and certain low-income adults, has made it easier for the people they serve to have access to Truvada as PrEP. First, they've eliminated the requirement that patients be tested monthly for HIV; the requirement that patients be provided with condoms was lifted; and the requirement that the patient's doctor has to receive Medi-Cal's permission before writing a prescription.

The decisions to lift these requirements came after discussions between Mike Wofford, Medi-Cal’s pharmacy policy branch chief, and representatives from AIDS Project Los Angeles, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, and Project Inform. Removing Medi-Cal's required approval made for one less step patients would have to go through to get started on a regimen, and the relaxing of the condom and HIV testing requirements came after the three groups asserted that they were "not necessarily real world conditions."


Trans Filmmaker's Suicide Spurs Bill For Accurate Trans Death Certificates

Lee_atkins

The suicide and posthumous misgendering of transgender filmmaker and activist Christopher Lee (pictured left) has compelled California Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (pictured right) to introduce a state bill that would reflect a transgender person’s chosen gender identity on their death certificate.

Lee — who was the first female-to-male Grand Marshal of San Francisco’s 2002 Pride Parade and founded the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival — committed suicide on December 22, 2012. But when his death certificate arrived, it had his female birth name on it and listed his gender as female, even though Lee’s driver’s license said male.

This happened in part because Lee did not undergo gender reassignment surgery (it's cost-prohibitive, not always covered by insurance and not always worthwhile to some trans people), and because of antiquated state laws.

The California Report explains:

Lieutenant Riddic Bowers of the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau. He says a driver’s license is not enough to override anatomy. An updated birth certificate would work, but that requires a court order. And until 2012 getting a court order meant getting surgery.

“Barring that, we have to rely on the documentation that exists, someone’s existing birth certificate and their correlating anatomical description,” Bowers says.

Family opinion is also a factor, and, under current law, next-of-kin has the final word. This is controversial. Many transgender people are estranged from relatives who are uncomfortable with their gender transition.

Lee wasn't in close contact with his family...

Atkins bill would change two key things. First, it would require coroners and funeral directors to record a person’s gender identify rather than anatomical sex. Second, if there’s a dispute, a driver’s license or passport would be sufficient legal documentation to trump family opinion.

If such documents are unavailable, the deceased’s next of kin will decide the gender. 

Atkins’ bill — known as Assembly Bill 1577 or the Respect After Death Act — was filed on January 30, 2014 and is sponsored by Transgender Law Center and Equality California.


Opponents Of California Law Protecting Transgender Students File Suit Against Secretary Of State

Last August, California Governor Jerry Brown (right) signed AB 1266 into law, effectively protecting the rights of transgender students across the state to utilize whichever locker room and bathroom facilities match their gender identities, and to choose sports teams in a similar fashion.

The bill received a large amount of conservative backlash at the time, with one referendum petition from the group Privacy for All Students receiving nearly 500,000 valid signatures, falling just short of the amount needed to get on the 2014 ballot. Though the manual recount of the petition yielded similar results, opponents believe that some signatures were thrown out. Now they have filed suit against California's secretary of state.

JerrybrownThe Daily Bulletin reports:

“We have served the Secretary of State with another legal action asking her to qualify the referendum and we have served county officials across the state with a demand for the documents to prove the abuse of discretion in rejecting more than 131,000 signatures,” Gina Gleason, director of faith and public policy at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, wrote in a press release issued Tuesday morning...

“Keeping boys out of the girls’ bathroom and locker room is an issue of privacy and safety,” she wrote to PFAS supporters. “Counting all of the valid signatures is an issue of integrity and trust. We must fight for all of these things. Thank you for your continued support in this battle.”

The flagrant disregard for the sensitivities and tact necessary when discussing youth who are transgender-identified is disturbing. The evidence being used by the Pacific Justice Institute, the firm working with Privacy for All Students, while justifiably outraged, seems sketchy at best.

In the PFAS press release, Matthew McReynolds, an attorney for the Pacific Justice Institute...said his signature was one of those rejected by his local registrar of voters.

“You read that correctly -- a petition from one of the key backers of the referendum, more familiar than most with the rules, was not good enough to satisfy elections workers here in Sacramento County,” he wrote. “So what did I do wrong? The explanation was that my signature didn’t look exactly like it had on my registration card. And you know what? They’re probably right; my signature has undoubtedly changed over the last few years as I have become totally blind and no longer able to see what I’ve written. That’s a long story that I’ll save for another day. But my disability shouldn’t prevent me from participating in such a core function of democracy as signing a referendum petition.

“What’s really scary is that I only found out I had been disenfranchised because I am very involved in the massive effort by the Privacy for All Students coalition to examine the signatures that were invalidated.”

Proponents of the bill are confident that the lawsuit will not hold up and that the fate of AB 1266 remains secure.


Newly-Appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Donated To Prop 8 Campaign

On Monday, Brendan Eich (right) became CEO of Mozilla, the software community responsible for developing Firefox, the popular web browser. Formerly the multi-tiered group's chief technology officer, Eich was an understandable but not altogether popular choice for the appointment. One reason some are not pleased? He donated funds in support of California's Proposition 8.

BrendaneichDevelopers Hampton Catlin and his husband Michael have decided to boycott the Mozilla community entirely.

Beta News reports:

"Today we were shocked to read that Brendan Eich has been appointed Mozilla CEO. As a gay couple who were unable to get married in California until recently, we morally cannot support a Foundation that would not only leave someone with hateful views in power, but will give them a promotion and put them in charge of the entire organization", says Hampton Catlin.

Catlin further explains, "I certainly recognize that there are great people at Mozilla. And that lots of people there want the org to be open and supportive. However, the board could have chosen ANY of those other, awesome people at Mozilla to be CEO. Hey, I've got a crazy idea, how about a woman at Mozilla? Nope. Out of all the possible candidates they could have chosen, they chose Brendan Eich. CEO's are extremely important to an organization. Their ideas, beliefs, philosophies, and personalities drive organizations".

Catlin wrote an open letter to Mozilla as well, explaining the boycott and urging the community to remove Eich from his position. 

Statistics reported by Beta News, sourced from the California Secretary of State's office, show that Eich gave $1,000 to support Prop 8. 

Prop8_eich


Gay Councilmember in Rancho Mirage, California Hit with Homophobic 'FAGS' Mailer

Scott Hines, an openly gay city councilmember in Racho Mirage, California, si being targeted by an anonymous homophobic mailer, Frontiers reports:

MailerIn mid-February, some Rancho Mirage voters opened their mailboxes to find an anti-gay postcard attacking openly gay Councilmember Scott Hines with the message “Send Hines Packing Back to Palm Springs (where he belongs).”

The postcards feature a shirtless picture of Hines with a caption in rainbow-colored lettering that says “No More ‘Fab’ Party Guy Scotty.” The letters of the message line up vertically to spell out “FAGS.”

The mailing was sent out without a return address, so no one knows who sent it. Hines, an educational technology company CEO and former Air Force Intelligence officer, has been careful not to point any fingers, but many residents suspect the postcards came from his campaign opponents, a group Hines sometimes refers to as “The Gang of Four.”

The so-called Gang of Four ("three Rancho Mirage City Council incumbents—Dana Hobart, Ted Weill and Iris Smotrich—plus political newcomer Charles Townsend") deny responsibility and suggest that the postcards were sent by Hines's supporters.


AFER paid $6.4 million to Ted Olson and David Boies' Law Firms in Prop 8 Case

The_Case_Against_8_credit_Diana_WalkerAFER

The Washington Blade is reporting that the American Foundation for Equal Rights paid more than $6.4 million to the two law firms that successfully argued against California’s Proposition 8.

Olson_boies2009-2013 tax filings indicate former Republican U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson’s law firm – Gibson, Dunn & Crtcher LLP – received nearly $6 million from AFER for “legal and ancillary legal expenses,” while David Boies’ law firm – Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP received $468,089.

The paper reports that these expenses include payments to expert witnesses who testified against Prop 8, travel and living expenses for lawyers who lived in San Francisco for a month during a three-week trial over which now retired U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker presided in 2010, and legal research costs.

“AFER’s case resulted in the return of marriage equality in California for a fraction of the cost of a ballot measure,” AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. 

Tax filings also indicate AFER raised $14,900,467 between April 23, 2009, and March 31, 2013, that Umhoefer told the Blade includes a “large amount” of contributions from Republican donors. He added his organization estimates the Prop 8 case also generated millions of dollars in earned media coverage for which it did not have to pay.

One such piece of media that's generating quite a bit of buzz is The Case Against 8, the film that goes behind the scenes of the high-profile trial. The film has won multiple awards from film festivals this year, including last week's SXSW in Austin. 


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