San Francisco, CA

California approves gay marriage ban

March 08, 2000
California, the land of change, voted for tradition, saying no to gay marriage.
    After a campaign led and financed by religious conservatives, voters Tuesday approved Proposition 22, which prohibits California from granting marital rights to same-sex couples who are legally married in any other state.
    No state allows same-sex marriages. But since the Hawaii Supreme Court raised the possibility of legalizing gay marriage in 1993, 31 states have passed pre-emptive laws denying recognition to same-sex couples legally married anywhere else. California is the third to adopt the law at the ballot box.
    With all precincts reporting today, 4,160,706 people, or 61 percent, had voted for the measure, and 2,617,838, or 39 percent, had voted against. 

Court upholds drug eviction law

February 15, 2000
A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled that tenants in public housing can be evicted for a household member's drug use, even if they did not know about it.
     In a 2-1 decision on Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 1988 federal law that allows local housing authorities to apply the Department of Housing and Urban Development's ``one-strike'' policy.
     The closely watched case was the first challenge to the 1991 policy, which applies to more than 3 million low-income tenants nationwide, to reach the appellate court level.
     A U.S. District Court judge barred the Oakland Housing Authority from evicting in 1998 four elderly tenants -- including a 75-year-old disabled man -- whose guests or relatives had allegedly used or possessed drugs in or near their homes.
     In reversing that decision the appellate court said crime in public housing was a severe problem and the policy was a strong incentive for tenants to refrain from inviting drug dealers and users to their homes. 

Court: Jury selection bias standard too high

February 03, 2000
California courts make it too hard to prove discrimination in jury selection, a federal appeals court has ruled. 
     California judges require a defense lawyer who challenges the prosecutor's removal of a juror to show a "strong likelihood" of bias before the judge will order the prosecutor to give an explanation.
     The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said this method violates the U.S. Supreme Court's rules for the type of proof needed to require a hearing on juror challenges. 
     The nation's high court requires only evidence that creates a "reasonable inference" of bias before a hearing is ordered. 

Civil rights lawyer Pitcher dead of cancer

January 07, 2000
Alex Pitcher, who helped Thurgood Marshall wage his historic Brown vs. Board of Education fight against racism in education and in recent years was president of the San Francisco NAACP chapter, died yesterday of cancer at the age of 75. 
     Whether it was in the halls of Washington, D.C., power or in his own neighborhood parks, Pitcher was a tireless worker for civil rights whose voice will be sorely missed, said those who waged the battles for justice with him.

In California, a battle over gay marriages

December 17, 1999
One of the most contentious social debates of this decade, whether homosexuals should be allowed to legally marry, is headed for a donnybrook in California early next year.
    With America's largest gay population and a track record of defining new social policy for the nation as a whole, California will decide on March 7 whether to prohibit gay marriages and refuse to recognize them should any other state legalize them.
    The campaign is already under way and could give this state's presidential primary, also on the March 7 ballot, a run for its money in terms of interest and fireworks. Indeed, many analysts liken the issue, in terms of its passion and significance, to recent California actions on social policies concerning affirmative action, illegal immigration, and bilingual education. 

Calif. court sets limit on sex harassment suits

December 09, 1999
The California Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that sexual harassment cases may be filed only against employers, not against the individual employee responsible for the alleged mistreatment.
    In a unanimous decision that sets more precise limits on sexual harassment liability, the court said that the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibiting harassment and discrimination applies only to workplace interactions between supervisors and subordinates.
    ``(The law) imposes on the employer the duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent this harassment from occurring in the first place and to take immediate and appropriate action when it is or should be aware of the conduct,'' the court said in its decision. 

Macy's loses lawsuit over access for disabled

October 29, 1999
Macy's flagship Union Square store violates state and federal laws requiring access for disabled people from its entrance and aisles to its dressing rooms and cash registers and must make the store easier to navigate, a federal court judge ruled Thursday.
    The decision by Chief Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the United States District Court applies only to the chain's main San Francisco store and its Men's Store, but advocates for the disabled hailed it as a victory with greater influence.
    ``This is a case of nationwide importance,'' said Larry Paradis, executive director of Disability Rights Advocates, the non-profit legal advocacy group that filed the suits against Macy's. (The judge) sent a very clear message to the entire retail industry that the Americans with Disabilities Act really does have to be followed and really requires changes from business as usual.'' 

Feds charge 25 in SF Housing Authority case

September 22, 1999
Federal agents, leading a bribery investigation at the San Francisco Housing Authority, have arrested the head of the agency's relocation office and her former deputy.
     Patricia Williams of San Francisco and Yolanda Bradley of Richmond were arrested Tuesday along with six others in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud a rent subsidy and relocation aid program for poor tenants.
    Williams, 57, head of the Housing Authority's relocation office, and Bradley, 39, her former aide, were accused of taking payments in exchange for federal rent-subsidy certificates.

First charge made in S.F. housing probe

September 14, 1999
A government informant who authorities say backed out of a deal to cooperate in the widening probe of the San Francisco Housing Authority was charged yesterday with bilking the government out of $33,552 in housing subsidies.
    Tracy Lynell Baker, 35, is the first to be charged in the long-running investigation into allegations that workers at the Housing Authority are selling Section 8 rent vouchers to the highest bidders.
    Baker is accused of falsifying documents to qualify for the subsidy program, which pays as much as 70 percent of a person's rent. But sources say Baker is just a small player in a system possibly plagued by corruption.

SF firefighter newsletter demeans women,

August 24, 1999
Calling it a ``sick hate crime,'' Supervisor Tom Ammiano yesterday asked the district attorney to investigate the origins of disturbing newsletters that are being sent anonymously to San Francisco firefighters.
    The ``Smokeater's Gazette,'' which has been mailed monthly to fire stations for about a year, demeans minority and women firefighters. One issue of the newsletter says that ``we have minority captains who don't know the difference between cardiac and Cadillac'' and calls women firefighters ``fire watchers,'' most of whom ``can't do the job and in many instances refuse to enter a fire building and if they do, they run out on their comrades in order to hydrate or to get in touch with their feelings.''
    The same issue refers to Chief Bob Demmons, who is black, as ``Boob Demmons.'' 

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