Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

San Francisco poised to lift ban on contracting with companies in anti-LGBTQ states

The city hoped like-minded cities and states would join in the effort to pressure states to overturn discriminatory laws. The support never materialized.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — San Francisco appears likely to once again allow bids from contractors from states with anti-LGBTQ laws and bans on abortion after its Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to repeal a law that banned the city from pursuing construction contracts from businesses in states with discriminatory laws. 

“The intent behind 12x was good and correct and I think Supervisor, now Senator Wiener, had hoped that a coalition would come together that would pressure states that were doing offensive and horrible things to stop doing those things. I think the evidence is as a strategy, that does not work. It has not worked over the time 12x has been in effect," said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. 

Then-Supervisor Scott Wiener proposed Chapter 12X in 2016 as a way to exert influence over states which had begun enacting increasingly draconian anti-LGBTQ laws following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed to same-sex couples. The hope at the time was that other like-minded governments would join in to exert even more pressure on the states to repeal their discriminatory laws. Since then, states across the country have passed laws that target transgender people, drag performers, and access to abortion and other medical care. 

The Board of Supervisors voted 7 to 4 to repeal the ban, with Supervisors Myrna Melgar, Dean Preston, Connie Chan, and Shamann Walton voting against. 

District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey said the law “lets us pretend we’re doing something important to move the ball on LGBTQ equality or voting rights or protecting reproductive rights” but hampers the city’s ability to seek competitive construction bids for building housing and other city projects. 

“We have made competitive bidding less competitive, and I think San Franciscans would be angry if they knew the amount of hoops that have to be jumped through and the added costs to city contracting,” Dorsey said. 

The repeal will have to be voted on again during next week’s Board of Supervisors meeting. If it passes again, it goes to Mayor London Breed’s desk for her signature or veto. 

If the repeal passes, the city will be free to seek bids for construction from companies from across the country. 

Along with not wanting to indicate that San Francisco is backing down from its fight against discriminatory laws in other states, Walton said he’s also worried how the repeal would affect small businesses in the city.

“There can be so many unintended consequences if we repeal this bill,” Walton said. 

Walton suggested the board take more time to analyze how repealing the law will affect small businesses in San Francisco. 

While agreeing that there is a performative aspect to 12x, Supervisor Melgar said it does have meaningful support from LGBTQ residents of San Francisco, and small businesses. 

“Do I think it will make things easier and cheaper to administer? Yes. Are we ready for it? I’m not quite sure,” Melgar said. 

Mandelman said LGBTQ people in San Francisco could be helped by the repeal of the law.  

“It’s not achieving the goal we want to achieve, it's making our government less efficient. We have incredible needs for vulnerable populations right here in San Francisco. Queer folks, trans folks in San Francisco who are experiencing incredibly high levels of violence, economic dislocation, homelessness, but other populations as well. The better we can make San Francisco government work for our folks, the more good we can do,” Mandelman said.  

District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen said the travel restrictions in the law actually restrict the ability of politicians in San Francisco from acting in solidarity with politicians in other states trying to repeal their discriminatory laws. District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan agreed.

“In the event that it does pass, colleagues I actually do intend and have been working on identifying ways to change this and really figure out ways to accomplish the intent," Chan said.

Categories / Civil Rights, Government, Regional

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.