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Badlands is Bad and Spawn of Satan

By Robert Haaland

Badlands is bad

April 27, 2005. Yesterday, the SF Human Rights Commission found Les Natali, owner of Badlands, guilty of discrimination against African American gay men. While the commission cannot levy a fine, the people who have worked on this issue for the last year are totally vindicated. They did what no one has done over the 20 some years that I have lived in the Bay Area. They thoroughly documented the discrimination, filed a complaint, and then educated and organized the community over the last year.

After the ruling, And Castro for All , the group who has worked on this issue, held a rally at Market and Castro to celebrate their victory. At the rally, one of the speakers noted that everyone knows about the discrimination in the Castro. Bar owners have been probably asking for two pieces of identification from African American gay men since gay bars opened in the Castro. In the mid 80s, there was some picketing of the Midnight Sun for requiring two pieces of identification, and bar owners in the Castro were required to put up signs saying that they could only ask for one piece of identification. You can read the full report from the Human Rights Commission by clicking here.

I was astounded to see the attorneys of Les Natali at the rally handing out flyers denouncing the ruling. While everyone has the right to representation, it was morally reprehensible to try and undermine the work that community activists were trying to accomplish.

The speakers were incredibly powerful. Later, Calvin Gipson came over and asked if I wanted to speak. I declined because I mistakenly thought it was important for those who had been discriminated against to speak. But then Calvin got on the microphone and talked about how important it is for white people to speak to white people about racism. It got me in the stomach. I know how I often want my brothers and sisters in the LGB community and the straight community to stand up against transphobia. Or simply to care more. So I got up to speak. And if you are still reading this, I’m asking you to get up and speak. Talk to five people you know today about the Badlands situation. Tell them to tell their friends to boycott Badlands. Stand up for inclusion and for justice. If you can, try and spur dialogue in the community about all forms of discrimination. Cuz Badlands is bad and so is discrimination.

Spawn of Satan

April 27, 2005. Last night I ran into Molly McKay at the rally in the Castro. She had just arrived from Sacramento after spending the morning lobbying the Assembly Judiciary Committee with supporters of Assemblymember Mark Leno’s bill AB 19, the Civil Marriage and Religious Freedom Act. The vote was 6-3. Wow. What a difference a few years make.

Equality California and the Freedom to Marry Coalition have done an amazing job of creating an infrastructure of support statewide. And there couldn’t be a more committed and persuasive legislator on this issue than Assembly member Mark Leno.

Yesterday Leno declared,

America was founded on the concept of separation of church and state, with the guarantee that religious freedom will be respected and the state will treat all people equally in the eyes of the law. AB 19 puts that fundamental right into practice — allowing loving, committed same-sex couples who want to devote their lives to one another, raise families, and protect themselves and their children the same rights and responsibilities as different-sex couples with the same goals and dreams.

The Chronicle suggests that the discourse was polite but stridently different. Not in the audience, according to Molly McKay. Apparently, there were teenagers who came along to lobby on behalf of AB19 and when one of the teenagers made a comment to an opponent, the opponent turned around and said, “Why should I listen to spawn of Satan?”

And ya know? That person probably really believes that. I think San Franciscans need to get out of the city more and get a sense of what its like in the rest of the state. The religious right is organizing against us, and they want to take us out. Queer marriage may be their current banner, but they would pick another if they didn’t have that. Spawn of Satan. Damn. How do you have a conversation with someone who thinks you are spawn of Satan?

Listen to the polite but stridently different debate at the hearing by clicking here.

Alice Huffman, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People testified on behalf of AB 19. Her support and the support of the NAACP have been critical this year.

Huffman said,

California cannot have an honest discussion about civil rights without talking about gay and lesbian rights. Both movements have a place in history as the NAACP stands tall with the gay and lesbian community.

Yesterday, history was busy being made in San Francisco and Sacramento.


Robert Haaland publishes a blog at www.leftinsf.com