Letters To The Editor

  • Tuesday April 4, 2006
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Reopen Patio Cafe

Regarding your article about construction projects transforming the Castro ["Castro set for building boom," March 23] , I couldn't help but wonder what is going on with the long-vacant Patio Cafe, once a vibrant hot spot and place to "see and be seen" in the heart of the Castro District. This historic property was one of the original gay-owned businesses, which opened its doors in the mid-1970s. Featuring an open-air restaurant and the hottest waiters in town, my friends and I always enjoyed Sunday brunch and Bloody Marys at the Patio Cafe.

Owned by the notorious Les Natali of Badlands and Pendulum fame, I am baffled by his justification for keeping this once thriving institution shuttered for so many years. It is a loss to the cachet of a gay Castro Street that used to be fun for tourists and residents alike. I, for one, think it is high time for Supervisor Bevan Dufty or the Castro merchants association to put their foot down and tell Mr. Natali to crap or get off the pot.

David Cannon

San Francisco

Church and state

I strongly take issue with Dale Carpenter's column in the Bay Area Reporter ["Let Catholics discriminate," OutRight, March 30] . First of all, the Catholic Church, in not allowing same-sex couples to adopt children through Catholic Charities, has created a change in policy. Hence, it is a policy that could change again. Are we expected to acquiesce to the whims of a church whenever it decides to change its practices? This church has a long-standing track record of vigorously opposing not only antidiscrimination laws based on sexual orientation, but also domestic partner benefit legislation. Moreover, this is a church that, especially in Massachusetts, has a sordid history of priests and other church officials abusing children and the cover-up of same by the church hierarchy. The Catholic Church claim of a moral authority to judge adoptions by same-sex couples as doing moral violence to the adopted children is laughable. The church's claim of moral authority is pathetic, given its history of abuse, cover-up, and opposition to equal protection and civil rights for gay women and men.

Secondly, allowing any religious organization to be exempt from a state's antidiscrimination laws sends us down a very slippery slope. How egregious must the discrimination be before the state should not grant an exemption to its antidiscrimination laws? Suppose the Vatican has another policy shift and wanted to prevent Catholic Charities from having children adopted by non-white couples, or interracial couples, or couples not of the Catholic faith? Where do you draw the line?

Admittedly, the church has not allowed a plethora of adoptions by same-sex couples, but that is not the point. A little injustice does not mitigate the injustice. Should the state say that any religious organization has the right to receive state funds that come from all taxpayers, including gay people, and at the same time be allowed to discriminate against them? I do not want my tax dollars to support any religious organization that wants to exempt itself from antidiscrimination laws, especially laws that affect my civil rights. If the church wants to discriminate, then it should use its own money, not the money from taxpayers. If the church had stopped the child abuse and the cover-up, then maybe today it would have a lot more money for adoptions, as opposed to having to settle lawsuits.  The point is: why should gay people's tax money go to organizations, religious or otherwise, who desire to have the right to violate laws specifically designed to protect them from this type of discrimination?

Can you honestly imagine Governor Romney, or any other mainstream politician, advocating an exemption from Massachusetts' antidiscrimination laws if a religious organization wanted taxpayer money to discriminate against Jews adopting non-Jewish children? I doubt if Carpenter would be defending Romney if he were supporting such an exemption. That would be considered beyond the pale. But somehow it is acceptable to him to allow an exemption specifically targeting gay people. Why the double standard?     Why should antigay discrimination be deemed less offensive than religious or racial discrimination?

Carpenter mentions that this exemption would place little or no burden on gay people's right to adopt children. Denying me my civil rights and forcing my tax dollars to fund discrimination against me is quite a serious burden, not some minor inconvenience.  And once this exemption is allowed, where will it lead? Will religious groups be allowed similar exemptions to deny us protection from employment or housing discrimination? When will the burden be deemed too burdensome, and who judges how burdensome it is? Meanwhile these churches pay no taxes! This adds insult to injury.

I am confident that many years from now, discrimination against gay women and men will no longer be tolerated by most politicians or the overwhelming majority of the people of this country. At that time, I think that Carpenter would look back at his position today and feel embarrassed that he had endorsed discrimination against his own people. Is this how he wants to be remembered?


David Goldman

San Francisco

Carpenter is wrong

Mr. Carpenter is cruelly wrong. He says allowing an exemption to the Catholic Church to discriminate against gay parents "would not deny children loving and stable homes." Thousands of foster children have been adopted by gay parents, like our son. Yet, there are still nowhere near enough parents willing to adopt the hundreds of thousands of desperately needy children in the foster care system. And parents are what these children need most to brighten a bleak future. Limiting the pool of potential parents does far more harm to these children than limiting the agencies that offer them services. The cruel lie the Catholic Church calls a belief would deny some children what they most desperately need. And the children, heartbreaking victims of the discrimination, are beneficiaries of the laws and politicians that prohibit it.


Mark Randall

San Francisco

What about SIR?

As wonderful as it was strolling down memory lane with the Bay Area Reporter's incalculable contributions to our community, it's sad that there is no mention of another organization without which the B.A.R. could not have thrived and taken root – the Society for Individual Rights. B.A.R. founder Bob Ross was often at philosophical and/or political loggerheads with SIR but was big enough a person to acknowledge SIR's contributions to their shared dream. In our march to civil liberties, SIR was right up there – upfront – along with the B.A.R . SIR is a huge piece of our history and its story needs to be told, from the legendary all-male Broadway musicals to the courtroom dramas to its slick magazine, Vector , which was sold globally.


Richard Piro

San Francisco

[Editor's note: The Society for Individual Rights and Vector were mentioned in last week's guest opinion piece by Jim Van Buskirk in his essay on early gay publications.]

Persona non grata

I've heard it said many times, that gay male visitors who come to the Castro are disappointed to find it isn't very gay. Some of it is because of gay assimilation into the community at large, but in the Castro it is also because of the void left by the tragedy of AIDS and that chasm being occupied by a melting pot of businesses and people of all persuasions.

The Castro transformation into a homogeneous neighborhood would be nothing compared to a citywide swing to the right. So I disagree strongly with the editorial in the B.A.R. ["Bring on the GOP," February 23] , which suggests a Republican convention in 2008 would be a good opportunity for us to showcase who we are. The Republicans are not interested in who we are, they are interested in who they want us to become. Once they weaken the nucleus of the left movement, everything else politically shifts to the right. Let's not let it happen. We should encourage San Francisco's supervisors to issue a persona non grata resolution, asking the Republicans to pander elsewhere, just like the resolution the supervisors issued on February 28 asking the city's Democratic congressional delegation to seek the impeachment of Bush.

The Republicans have been refusing us our freedoms across the country. If they arrive in San Francisco, down come the rainbow flags in the Castro along with the dismantling of the citywide diversity and freedoms we all cherish. As Abraham Lincoln once wrote, "those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves." Lest we forget also, the controversy over the last two election cycles in 2000 and 2004 at the behest of the Republicans. For a great interview on those elections, listen to an MP3 interview at www.bookwaves.com with author Mark Crispin Miller. It's chilling.

The devil wants to come to San Francisco disguised as someone who will bring millions of dollars to the city's coffers. Money at the expense of our freedoms, diversity and left politics is not worth it.

Robert Meslinsky

San Francisco

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