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SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The San Diego LGBT Pride board of directors today published an “open letter” to the community announcing the departure of Eric Heinritz as executive director and the appointment of Fernando Lopez as the new executive director.
Heinritz was appointed in May 2017 after an extensive search and comprehensive selection process managed by Nonprofit Management Solutions. At the time, Heinritz’s selection was criticized due to his lack of experience and the fact that he was brought in from Milwaukee over local favorite Lopez. Less than a year later Lopez is now taking over from Heinritz.
San Diego Pride remained tight-lipped on the reasons for Heinritz’s departure writing that he, “… dutifully served both this organization and our community well, and we are extremely grateful for the sacrifices and time he has dedicated to us.”
In confirming Lopez’s appointment San Diego Pride writes, “Fernando’s commitment to San Diego Pride and our community is without question. Coupled with his knowledge and extensive history at San Diego Pride, we are all excited to see what he will accomplish as we move forward.”
Ironically, it was exactly this “commitment, knowledge and extensive history” that had people scratching their heads in surprise eight months ago when Lopez was passed up for the position.
Lopez will assume his new role Feb. 5. Read San Diego Pride’s open letter in full below:
To our community,
We want to begin by affirming that all of us at San Diego LGBT Pride are steadfast in our commitment to our long-standing mission and vision – to foster pride, equality, and respect for all LGBT communities locally, nationally, and globally. This has been our guiding principle since our inception and why we have worked continuously to unite and empower the LGBT community not just in San Diego, but around the world.
Each of us on the Board of Directors recognize the space San Diego Pride has and continues to occupy within our community, but now it’s time to grow. With growth comes change and we want to share some of those changes with you.
First, we are saddened to announce the departure of Eric Heinritz, our current executive director. Eric dutifully served both this organization and our community well, and we are extremely grateful for the sacrifices and time he has dedicated to us. We wish Eric nothing but the best wherever he goes in the future.
Effective Monday, February 5, Fernando Lopez, our current director of operations, will assume the role and responsibilities of executive director. Fernando’s commitment to San Diego Pride and our community is without question. Coupled with his knowledge and extensive history at San Diego Pride, we are all excited to see what he will accomplish as we move forward.
While this news has already been speculated in the media, we know these are important changes for our organization and community and that is why we wanted to address it directly. In addition, we want to make very clear that our emeriti to the Board are a valued resource to our Board of Directors, but do not have voting rights. We believe their portrayal in recent media reports are tremendously unfair and distasteful, and they will continue on in their role as advisors to the Board.
With all of this in mind, it’s more important than ever that we begin to move forward together. Our current national climate demands unity and that is exactly what we must promote and practice. San Diego Pride will continue to envision and strive for a world free of prejudice and bias, and we hope you will stand with us.
WASHINGTON D.C. — The Trump-Pence administration has refused to sign a statement in support of an Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling on marriage equality and transgender rights.
Earlier this month, the court issued an opinion that Costa Rica is in violation of its treaty obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) by not providing marriage equality or providing legal options for transgender people to change their gender marker on identity documents. While seven of the eight countries in the Organization of American States (OAS) LGBTI Core Group signed on to a statement supporting the court’s opinion, the United States did not.
“The Trump-Pence administration’s refusal to sign this statement in support of marriage equality and transgender rights is deeply troubling,” said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. “As the administration unleashes a torrent of attacks on the LGBTQ community here at home, it is also abandoning LGBTQ people around the world. We are in desperate need of leadership that will advance America’s commitment to LGBTQ human rights in the U.S. and abroad.”
The seven nations that signed the statement on January 22 are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. While the United States has not ratified the ACHR, Canada also has not, but that did not prevent their leadership from signing the statement. It is also notable that Chile, which does not yet have marriage equality, and a number of countries that do not offer transgender individuals the option to legally change their official gender markers, signed the statement.
“This is a huge honor and I’m grateful to Speaker Rendon and Speaker Pro Tempore Mullin for having the faith in me to assume this responsibility,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “We have a lot of work in front of us this year and some important conversations to have as a body. The best thing I hope to do is ensure the process is carried out smoothly and to ensure the people’s work gets done.”
The Speaker Pro Tempore is appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly. Along with the Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore, this position exercises the powers and duties of the Speaker in their absence, which includes presiding over and conducting Assembly floor sessions.
Assemblymember Gloria still serves as the Assembly’s Majority Whip.
NEW YORK — The Syringe Access Fund today announced nearly $2.4 million in grants awarded to 62 organizations that are driving efforts to prevent HIV and viral hepatitis by providing injection drug users with access to sterile injection equipment and related health messaging. The funding will support syringe service programs and advocacy efforts to increase access to these programs in 32 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands through 2020, many of which serve the very same communities impacted by increased injection drug use stemming from the opioid epidemic that currently rages across the country.
“Injection drug use has always been a primary mode of transmission for both HIV and viral hepatitis, and the sharing of needles continues to result in thousands of new HIV transmissions each year,” said Elton John, Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “In light of recent HIV outbreaks linked to injection drug use, which threaten to curb the progress we’ve made toward ending HIV, this is a critical time to continue resourcing programs that provide clean needles and other equipment to injection drug users, because these programs are proven to help prevent the spread of the disease.”
For nearly fifteen years, the Syringe Access Fund has been supporting effective programs that promote the health, safety, and well-being of people who inject drugs, with the goal of reducing HIV and other bloodborne infections. Funding for the Syringe Access Fund is provided by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, and the H. van Ameringen Foundation, and is administered by AIDS United. For this latest round of grantmaking, EJAF provided $2 million in support to the fund because mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS through intravenous drug use remains a priority for the Foundation. To date, the Syringe Access Fund has distributed over $20 million through 409 grants to 177 organizations in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands that serve vulnerable populations including people of color, rural communities, and the LGBT community. Consequently, grantees were able to distribute more than 66 million syringes to more than 350,000 clients.
“Access to sterile syringes is a proven public health tool to prevent the transmission of HIV and HCV,” said Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United. “Despite longstanding, clear scientific evidence, the federal government continues to hedge its support for syringe services by prohibiting the use of federal dollars to procure sterile syringes themselves. And, too many state and local authorities continue to oppose these programs, even as their residents’ need for them grows. The Syringe Access Fund was designed to step in where government refuses to act. With the opioid epidemic raging, the Syringe Access Fund is needed now more than ever.”
“Funding through the Syringe Access Fund is critical to increase access to life-saving tools and services for people who use drugs,” said Dr. Hansel Tookes, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, a Syringe Access Fund grantee. “The Syringe Access Fund helped us legalize syringe services in Miami. With continued support from the Fund of our advocacy efforts, Florida is on the brink of allowing syringe services statewide, which could be a turning point for the entire South.”