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San Diego Pride will not be Resisting

Activists urge organizers to reconsider some corporate sponsors

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Wells Fargo has been one of several large corporate sponsors of San Diego Pride that activists say also fund LGBT community opponents. (Photo by Tristan Looper)

During his recent visit to San Diego, LGBTQ rights leader Cleve Jones, a close confidant and protégé of the late Harvey Milk, said that queer people have a unique opportunity to resist the regressive perils of Trumpism.

“I think Harvey would want to celebrate the amazing achievements we have accomplished in the last four decades,” said Jones, who was in town receiving a lifetime achievement award at the annual Harvey Milk Breakfast here.

“But I think Harvey would caution us to be vigilant. We cannot take things for granted,” he stressed.

Yet according to some activists, major multinational companies and Wall Street banks, not least among them Wal-Mart, Anheuser-Busch, and Wells Fargo Bank, take annual Pride celebrations for granted by trying to have it both ways, often sponsoring our opponents to a greater degree than they support our champions.

It’s a situation that has San Diego equality activist Will Rodriguez Kennedy worried.

“We’re probably going to give (San Diego Pride) our endorsement,” Rodriguez Kennedy, president of San Diego Democrats for Equality, told the Los Angeles Blade. “But before that happens, we want to know that San Diego Pride understands this year’s different—that the progress LGBTQ people made under Obama is now being threatened.”

Rodriguez Kennedy’s group is one of the largest LGBTQ Democratic clubs in the nation.

“We’re not asking them to cancel the Pride parade,” he said. “But we are asking them to act with more integrity and selectiveness to avoid taking funds from, and promoting companies…that hurt our community by supporting politicians like Donald J. Trump.”

In June of this year, as #ResistMarch was underway in cities nationwide, including one unrelated to Pride in San Diego that attracted 5,000 people, Rodriguez Kennedy’s organization initially withheld endorsement of a San Diego Pride as usual.

“Look, [San Diego Pride] did have a (protest) march in June,” Rodriguez Kennedy said. “That’s good—that’s really good – but what a lot of us in the progressive movement want to resist taking corporate funding. What L.A. and other cities did in June was to show that you can.”

Rodriguez Kennedy insists he’s not against all Pride affiliations with corporate America.

“It just can’t be the only thing you’re about,” he said. “But you have to be vigilant and make sure you’re not giving your endorsement to companies that support politicians who consistently vote against our equality. It’s hypocrisy. They support equality on the one hand, then fund our enemies with the other hand.”

National Equality March for Unity and Pride co-chair, San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez says vigilance is indeed needed.

But he isn’t convinced that the national queer resistance movement is harmed by San Diego Pride’s corporate affiliations this year—or that doing so is an endorsement for “business-as-usual” mood in 2018.

“I agree that the commercialism has become too great when we’re still fighting for our equality,” Ramirez told the Los Angeles Blade. “We need to be vigilant, and all parades should be prepared to be marches in 2018. But this year, in San Diego, we’re just going to have a parade.”

As national co-chair of the Equality March in Washington, D.C., Nicole Murray Ramirez received reports about the degrees to which cities across the nation converted their Pride parades to resistance marches. Aside from Los Angeles, there wasn’t much resistance, according to him. That assertion runs contrary to other reports.

“I understand that San Diego is the last major parade of the year,” Murray Ramirez said. “I’m not too concerned that it will be a parade and not a march. But like I said, we have to be vigilant for next year. If anything happens, we should be ready to march nationwide.”

Inasmuch as San Diego organizers may be inclined to look to Los Angeles to shape their Pride parade, there’s a wealth of experience to consider.

“The leadership of Christopher Street West were against the idea at first,” said Los Angeles #ResistMarch organizer, Brian Pendleton. “They had their hearts set on a business-as-usual parade.These guys are music festival producers and were worried that a march would impact them financially.”

A veteran event producer himself, Pendleton understood the concerns of CSW’s board, which organizes L.A Pride. But understanding isn’t the same as agreeing.

“…[A]fter seeing the overwhelming support from the Southern California community, they waived a bunch of rules, and invited me to join the board,” he said.

It could be argued that L.A.’s march was as much a response to years of growing dissatisfaction and a widening perception that Christopher Street West had itself become over-commercialized, as it was a reaction to the potential perils of far-right forces taking over all three branches of government.

Last year, a Los Angeles Times headline screamed that very sentiment with cutting clarity: “LA Pride has sold out and become ‘gay Coachella,’ critics say.”

But San Diego’s reputation as a more modest, milder-mannered metropolis than Los Angeles appears to be holding fast as thousands of visitors arrive for this weekend’s Pride events. Despite rumblings that self-proclaimed #Resistance protesters might show up to shadow the parade, San Diego Pride appears poised to call its tiny version of last month’s march in solidarity with L.A.’s #ResistMarch “good enough” for 2017.

“I don’t think they’re going to cancel the parade and call for a march,” Rodriguez Kennedy said. “And that’s fine. But if they’re going to be part of the movement, San Diego Pride’s board needs to be diligent about where their corporate funds are coming from and not sell us out.”

Brian Pendleton recognizes there may be differences between Los Angeles and San Diego.

“While we’d love to see a sister march in San Diego to keep #ResistMarch momentum going, we support whatever they do,” he said. “Every city has its own politics. Every city has its own economics.”

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San Diego

Dignitaries tour the 60% completed USNS Harvey Milk

This past week on the eve of what would have been Milk’s 91st birthday Milk’s nephew elected officials and other dignitaries toured the ship

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Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk (U.S. Navy Photo Illustration)

SAN DIEGO – The construction work on the future U.S. Navy fleet oiler named for slain gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk is nearly sixty-percent completed according to a spokesperson for the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company division of General Dynamics Corporation commonly referred to as NASSCO.

This past week on the eve of what would have been Milk’s 91st birthday on Saturday, Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk, elected officials and other dignitaries were given two separate tours of the vessel.

The Milk is a fleet oiler and will be assigned the tasks of replenishing fuel oil and dry goods to U. S. naval vessels at sea. The Milk is the second ship in the new John Lewis class of fleet oilers. The future USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205) , is named for the former civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman, and is also under construction at NASSCO San Diego.

The first six vessels in the Lewis class of fleet oilers are named after prominent civil rights activists and leaders, in addition to the USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205) are; USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206) – LGBT activist Harvey Milk; USNS Earl Warren (T-AO-207) – Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren; USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO-208) – U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; USNS Lucy Stone (T-AO-209) – Women’s rights activist Lucy Stone; USNS Sojourner Truth (T-AO-210) – Abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.

San Diego City & County Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez arranged the private tours led by Dennis DuBard, Manager of Government Relations at General Dynamic NASSCO on behalf of the shipbuilders.

Photos by Anthony Paolino, General Dynamics NASSCO

Among the dignitaries were Stuart Milk- Co-Founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation, San Diego’s openly gay Mayor Todd Gloria; State Senate President Toni G. Atkins; City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn; State Assemblymember Christopher Ward; Congressmember Sara Jacobs; State Commissioner Robert Gleason; The Center’s Cara Dessert; and Navy veteran, Chief Petty Officer Morgan M. Hurley, USN Ret. former chair of the LGBTQ Veterans Wall of Honor.

L to R-  masked men, NASSCO personnel, including Dennis DuBard- Manager of Government Relations at NASSCO, 
BACK ROW- Morgan Hurley, Ryan Bedrosian- Hillcrest Business Association, 
MIDDLE ROW- Mike Phillips-San Diego Historic Task Force, City/County Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez, Eddy Rey- Executive Director Equality Business Alliance, Stuart Milk- Co-Founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation 
FRONT ROW- Bevan Dufty- Former San Francisco County Board of Supervisors, Charles Rozanski- International Imperial Court Council 

Also given a tour were Bevan Dufty, former San Francisco Board of Supervisor- District 8, member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors and Executive Director of H.O.P.E. for the City & County of San Francisco; Ryan Bedrosian, business man, owner of Rich’s San Diego and secretary of the Hillcrest Business Association; Charles Rozanski, businessman, president and CEO of Mile High Comics, and member of the International Imperial Court Council; Michael “Bigmike SanDiego” Phillips, philanthropist, and chair of the newly minted San Diego LGBTQ historic Task Force; Eddie Rey, Executive Director of the Equality Business Alliance.

Photos by Anthony Paolino, General Dynamics NASSCO

Eddie Rey, Executive Director of the Equality Business Alliance noted; “The naming of the USNS Harvey Milk is historic for multiple reasons- including that it’s the first military ship named after a service member who was harassed, court martialed and then dishonorably discharged- simply for being gay; but most importantly to me — because it tells the world that our nation now honors and supports LGBTQ individuals. It is my hope that someday the military will reverse and rectify the wrongful “Other Than Honorable Discharge” given to thousands of our LGBTQ brothers, sisters, and siblings. As for Harvey Milk- the message of his less than honorable discharge and naming of a ship is a powerful message- that the family wishes to keep as is.”

Milk was given an ‘other than honorable‘ discharge from the US Navy on February 7, 1955 after being forced by U.S. Navy investigators to describe his sexual relationships in a 152 page document. Some twenty-two years later he was the first openly gay person elected to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk would go on to only serve 11 months in office, until he and then San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, were murdered in their office spaces at City Hall on the morning of November 27, 1978 by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White.

Every year on his birthday, the foundation that bears his name celebrates Harvey Milk Day to remember and teach about his life and his activism work to stop the discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and in California, Harvey Milk Day is recognized by the state’s government as a day of special significance for the Golden State’s public schools. 

The day was permanently established by the California legislature and signed into law by then Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009.

A NASSCO spokesperson said that the Milk is on schedule for a November ‘ship’s christening’ with commissioning to follow at an unspecified date.

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Federal probe into former backer of Prop 8 in ‘pay or play’ scheme

Manchester said he was offered the Bahamas post the day after Trump was sworn in

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Doug Manchester with Donald Trump. Photo via Manchester’s personal website

WASHINGTON – A Federal grand jury is issuing subpoenas in a criminal investigation into the nomination of a wealthy San Diego real estate and longtime business developer and the past chairman and publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Douglas Frederick Manchester, as U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas by former President Trump.

Manchester was an early supporter of Trump. The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that the case appears to focus on the Republican National Committee and its two senior leaders, and possibly members of Congress.

Manchester has long had deep financial ties to the Republican Party as a major donor and to GOP elected officials and candidates. He was first nominated to become the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas in May 2017, just months into the Trump administration.

But the nomination stalled in the U.S. Senate, prompting Trump to re-nominate Manchester to the post early in 2018. That nomination also was held up from Senate approval. Manchester withdrew his nomination in October 2019, saying that he was removing his name from consideration due to threats to his family, the paper reported Saturday.

The Union-Tribune is reporting that focus of the subpoenas is in emailed or other communications involving communications between Manchester, his former wife, the Republican National Committee, (RNC) and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Co-Chair Tommy Hicks.

In November of 2019 CBS News chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reported that Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance. A Trump supporter, Manchester donated $1 million to the former president’s inauguration fund. According to Axelrod, Manchester said he was offered the Bahamas post the day after Trump was sworn in.

Trump tweeted his nomination of Manchester after which, according to emails obtained by CBS News, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel hit up Manchester for a donation. It was no small sum. In an email, obtained exclusively by CBS News, she asked Manchester, “Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?”

Axelrod reported, “He wrote back to McDaniel’s request for $500,000, “As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!””

It was that email the Union-Tribune and CBS both reported that is the heart of the potential “pay or play” scheme. Justice Department officials did not respond to requests for statements outside of confirming that the Federal probe began during the final year of the Trump administration.

Manchester, 78, a native Californian was born in Los Angeles and raised in San Diego and is known for his real estate and business empire. He was responsible for construction and development of some of San Diego’s premier properties including the First National Bank Center, and the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina. In the 1990s, he constructed the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel San Diego.

In 2011, he purchased The San Diego Union-Tribune and a year later in 2012, he bought the North County Times and merged it and its subsidiary, The Californian, into the Union-Tribune. He also bought eight local weeklies in the San Diego region, which continue to be published as separate papers. In 2015, he sold The San Diego Union-Tribune to the Tribune Publishing Company.

During the national debate and politicking over the issue of same-sex marriage Manchester was an opponent. Georgetown Law notes; “Among the advocates for Prop 8 were religious organizations, most notably the Roman Catholic church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”

Manchester, who was appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for his nomination as U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas, responding to a line of questioning from Senator Bob Menendez, (D-New Jersey), acknowledged that he had donated $125,000 to support Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that prohibited same-sex marriage in California that passed with 52 percent of the vote.

“I was asked by the Catholic bishop of San Diego, and I am Catholic, to contribute and I did. And my family was opposed to it,” Manchester said. “And I want to clarify the issue: that was a huge mistake and I have more than done everything to rectify that mistake.”

Prop 8 was later overturned in the 2013 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry.

He told the Senators that he has had thousands of employees, including those who are gay and lesbian. He then pointed out that he’s contributed a like amount of money to LGBTQ causes, adding he is“ totally 100 percent for human rights all across the board.”

Manchester then told the Committee; “I certainly support gay and lesbian marriage, for the record,” he said.

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Miscellaneous

Trans USMC vet injured in attack police say may be hate crime

Three men decided to approach Shane and brutally assaulted him for being who he is

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Shane Devereaux (Photo credit: Screenshot via KFMB-TV CBS News 8 San Diego)

CARLSBAD – Police investigators in this coastal city in North San Diego County are investigating an attack on a U.S. Marine Corps veteran as a possible hate crime.

Shane Devereaux, a transgender male Marine veteran, was with his girlfriend leaving the Coyote Bar and Grill on Carlsbad Village Drive when he was attacked.

According to Carlsbad police, officers were dispatched to the bar’s location last Saturday, March 20, just before midnight for a report of a fight. Carlsbad Police Department spokesperson Lt. Kevin Lehan told KFMB-TV CBS News 8 San Diego, that officers found four people were involved in what they called “mutual combat” and two of those involved had left before officers arrived. Lehan said that police believe alcohol played a role in the incident. 

Officers reported witnesses saw the group involved in an argument, including “name-calling” while leaving the bar. One of the men pushed Devereaux, which caused him to fall backward and hit his head on the ground. According to police they opened a ‘battery’ investigation at that time.

(Photo credit: Screenshot via KFMB-TV CBS News 8 San Diego)

Then, on March 22, police said Devereaux’s girlfriend gave an additional statement to investigators that prompted them to investigate the incident as a “possible hate crime.” 

“We have received conflicting statements about what occurred, and we are working hard to sort the information and find the facts,” said Lt. Lehan in an email to News 8 on Thursday. “We take allegations like these very seriously in Carlsbad.  The investigation is active and ongoing, once completed it will be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office to evaluate for the most appropriate charges.” 

Friends of Devereaux created a GoFundMe to defray the cost of his hospitalization and in the description they noted:

“On 3/20/2021 Shane was involved in a tragic hate crime. Shane is a beautiful soul. […] Shane is a handsome transgender male which many adore and admire him for his bravery. Shane has bravely served in our military and has put himself out there to protect this country. Shane and his girlfriend Jennifer were out casually having drinks at the Coyote Bar&Grill in Carlsbad.”

While on their date three men approached the couple and decided to have drinks with them. They were casually talking and having a great a conversation. As the night progressed the three men found out Shane was a transgender male.

As the night ended Shane and Jennifer made their way to their car and the three men decided to approach Shane and brutally assaulted him for being who he is. Currently Shane is in the hospital suffering from a fractured skull, broken back, but most importantly a broken heart. Shane can’t talk, can’t move, and can’t use the restroom alone.”

Shane Devereaux (Photo Credit: Via GoFundMe campaign page)
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