Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 29 / 21 July 2016

Letters to the Editor

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Honor walk oversight

When the first list of honorees for the Rainbow Honor Walk was announced in 2014, I was surprised that the poet, Thom Gunn, was not included. When the second list was announced a few weeks ago and his name was again conspicuous by its absence, I was flabbergasted ["2nd class picked for honor walk," June 30].

The four lines etched into the top of the wall partly circling the National AIDS Memorial Grove were written by Gunn. The Triangle Award for gay poetry was renamed the Thom Gunn Award in his memory. His most famous book, The Man with Night Sweats , a "contemporary classic by one of the most singular and compelling poets in English of the past half century," was said to qualify him as "the poet laureate for the AIDS crisis." Indeed, it made him "a spokesperson of an annihilated generation."

Gunn lived in San Francisco from 1960 until his death in 2004. He wrote often about the city; about bars, hustlers, the street people, the streets ("Pierce Street," "Taylor Street," and "Market At Turk" were three of his poems). He wrote about gay fathers, bathhouses, the Geysers, "The J Car," and AIDS.

He was often honored; won many awards: a Rockefeller Award, the PEN Prize for poetry, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, etc., and two fellowships, the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundation.

He deserves to be honored in the city he loved.

Mike Kitay

San Francisco

No need for more gun laws

With reference to your July 14 issue and its various mostly anti-Second Amendment, anti-gun, and anti-law-abiding gun owner articles and opinions, I wish to state that I believe law-abiding gun owners wishing to exercise their individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes such as self-defense, hunting, target shooting, and collecting, as upheld by the Supreme Court in the Washington, D.C. and Chicago cases, are one of the most discriminated against groups in the state of California ["LGBTs debate gun laws," and "Gun Safety: A step forward in CA, an uphill fight in DC," Guest Opinion].

In no other western state do law-abiding gun owners have to put up with the constant attacks on their right to keep and bear arms by "liberal" extremist anti-gun Democrats in the state Legislature, who, by their actions, violate their oath of office and the Bill of Rights. As shown by such legislation, and, by letters to the editor, there is an incredibly high level of hoplophobia, anti-Second Amendment, anti-gun, and anti-law-abiding gun owner organization bias and anti-law-abiding gun owner bigotry in this state, particularly in Sacramento and in the East Bay-San Francisco area that needs to be opposed. There needs to be a stop to using guns as a whipping boy and law-abiding gun owners as scapegoats for the actions of criminals and others who misuse guns. There needs to be a stop to the use of the term "gun violence," which falsely implies that guns jump up and do something by themselves and a start to the use of the terms "criminal violence," "suicidal violence," and "careless person violence," which put the blame for the misuse of guns on the persons who are doing it; a tiny, tiny minority of all gun owners and users. Governor Jerry Brown should have vetoed every one of those anti-gun bills except for the one restoring the theft of a firearm to the level of a felony. The most iniquitous of the bills he did sign relates to the purchase of ammunition. Each person wishing to purchase ammunition is first required to obtain and pay for a permit from the state Department of Justice, before going through the instantaneous electronic background check at the point of sale. This unfair bill punishes law-abiding citizens for the actions of criminals.

The Pink Pistols and other LGBT firearms enthusiasts have it right – there is quite enough gun control legislation in California and at the federal level. Additional legislation is unnecessary. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom's anti-gun initiative should be defeated by the voters in November, and should he ever run for the office of governor of California, he should also be defeated by the voters. Hillary Clinton advocates the confiscation of lawful guns legally held by law-abiding citizens and, therefore, should be rejected by the voters. Republican majorities in both houses of Congress should continue so that the Second Amendment individual's right to keep and bear arms will be preserved. California needs to add a right to keep and bear arms amendment to the state constitution.


David R. Russell

Berkeley, California


[Editor's note: Gavin Newsom is running for governor.]


More on SJ sex sting case

In regards to the story written about me (and the five other plaintiffs), "Judge slams police in SJ park sex case," [July 7] there are additional points I would like to make:

The case started out with the district attorney saying the sting operations were in response to 10 public complaints about sex at the park. The deputy public defender, Carlie Ware, brought up that the police only targeted gay men, which was not equal treatment under the law as heterosexuals were not targeted. Due to this reason, the judge considered the case to have a "constitutional backdrop" and allowed Ware to be given access to two years of police records to find out if unconstitutional enforcement was indeed going on. The review turned up records for the 10 complaints mentioned earlier. Only one of the 10 complaints was concerning public gay sex in the park. The other nine complaints were not related but the district attorney said they were before the actual complaint records were made available. Saying that 10 complaints were the justification for the sting operation was a lie. It was also a false statement to make to the judge in court. The district attorney and the San Jose Police Department should be prosecuted for this.

Another point of disinformation is in regards to the police report written by San Jose police Officer Samuel Marquardt. In it he describes my propositioning him by putting my finger in the glory hole accurately, but later in the report leaves out things that he said to me and that he mirrored sexual attraction to me as we stood talking to another outside the stall in the bathroom. He also implied things in his report that made me look "extra bad" to anyone reading it. He said children could have been hurt (I'm a pedophile?), the bathroom was dirty (I'm dirty? Ick factor reference?), and that graffiti was written on the wall, which he quoted as saying: "I eat man cum," "Blow jobs Tuesday 12:30," "Feed me your cum." (I wrote these things?). I was surprised how subjective the report was and how effectively written it was to ensure I had an awkward experience in court during the early hearings. These early hearings were conducted in an open courtroom with crowds of people present and listening to each other's cases being discussed. Some judges seemed embarrassed when they reviewed my court records. Thankfully, the public defender's office helped me to feel more comfortable as a gay man going through the legal system and to have a measure of dignity as I sat through many months of court hearings.

In conclusion, I didn't expect the courts to say that gay sex in public places was completely allowable. I also didn't expect that false statements would be made in court by the district attorney and that Officer Marquardt would write the type of subjective report that he did. In doing these things they tried to tip the scale of justice against me. If anyone is interested in knowing more about this case, the 18-page decision written by Judge Jose Franco is an inspirational and insightful document to read.


John Ferguson

Morgan Hill, California


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