Letters to the Editor

  • Wednesday June 21, 2006
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More Milk (education) needed

During a recent visit to City Hall, my husband and I visited the Board of Supervisors' clerk's office and inquired about former Supervisor's Harvey Milk's office. To my dismay, the person in the front desk did not recognize the name even when I mentioned the unique and tragic circumstances behind his death. I was completely and utterly disappointed that such a historical figure in the LGBT world and San Francisco's political history cannot even be a familiar name among the staff at City Hall. This is utterly tragic.

Alfredo Roldan-Flores

Boston, Massachusetts

More than a glitch

I laughed out loud at Mr. Jim Van Buskirk's lame attempt to blame [through his attorney] his [alleged] plagiarism on "a computer glitch that deletes quotation marks" ["Local writers entangled in plagiarism case," June 15]. Even a lowly trade publisher like mine requires authors to proof and sign the galleys before their work goes to press; this is a legality that protects both the author and publisher. I laughed so hard, I broke into "a million little pieces" (pun intended).

Mr. Hank Donat should be publicly thanked by authors and artists everywhere. Most of us prefer to concentrate on our work and avoid trouble that steals precious time away from our work, so it is a hard decision to put up a fight. Mr. Donat stood his ground and refused to tolerate someone appropriating his thoughts, ideas, and words verbatim without proper credit.

Though his victory seems small for the amount of perpetual grief he must endure while the book is out, I hope he will persist and demand the culprit attach big stickers to the cover stating: "Select passages nicked from MisterSF.com." At least that way, he will net some well-deserved publicity.

Far too many artists and writers take the path of least resistance and this only perpetuates the old adage "All good men must do for evil to succeed is � nothing."

Susan Kirkland

Burnsville, North Carolina

Kiss those Christians

Your article about the fundies invading the Castro and their somewhat lame responses hides who they really are ["Fundies met by cold stares in the Castro," June 15]. After coming across them a couple of times I did a little digging and found that they are part of a group call SOS Ministries San Francisco, a group that welcomes fundamentalist Christians from all over to help save the poor godless souls of San Francisco, with yes, you guessed it, us "militant homosexuals" at the top of their wish list. They are connected to several ex-gay ministries including Exodus International and New Hope Ministries in Marin County.

These folks are pure evil when it comes to our rights, and right to live openly in peace in our neighborhood.

I, for one, take incredible offense when they come all the way to the corner of 18th and Castro on a Friday or Saturday night, and start spouting off about their beliefs, and then hide their true motives. At least Fred Phelps is honest about his hatred.

Next time you see them, be sure to ask about their anti-militant homosexual lobby, SOS Ministries, and their belief that we are evil and need to be changed, then feel free to give them a big sloppy wet kiss on the lips if, as they told you, they are so damn gay friendly.

David O' Connor

San Francisco

No nelly here

I wish to object in the strongest terms to Mark Mardon's ["Feel the Pulse!" Calendare, June 15] description of me at the GuyWriters National Queer Arts Festival event at the SF LGBT Community Center. Mr. Mardon refers to me as a "nelly versifier" – I wish to point out to Mr. Mardon that I was, without a doubt, the butchest thing in Gucci in the entire room.


Andrew Demcak

San Francisco

Bush and civil unions

The shrill, high-profile activists for gay marriage miserably advocate only two strategies for furthering our interests – seeking favorable liberal judicial activism and fanning the flames of hatred for President George W. Bush and all things Republican.

I have long argued that a right to gay marriage "discovered" through judicial fiat will leave us less secure then we are already. Many mistakenly believe that our cause is served when judicial activists either a) overturn popular referenda or b) discover previously unknown rights in the dark, secret penumbra of the U.S. or state constitutions.

For the past six years, liberals have been smarting under the sting of Bush v. Gore. Senator Hillary Clinton shamefully validated this cynicism by referring to President Bush as a "selected" president. That's the problem with judicial activism – we're ecstatic when the judges go our way, but bitter and scornful when they don't. Recent judicial triumphs, even in Massachusetts, will not last. Either through constitutional amendment or conservative Supreme Court judges willing to stare down stare decisis, the American people will ultimately have the final word. Do you really want to spend the next 20 years fighting a la Roe v. Wade for the preservation of a right "discovered" by judicial activism? Popularly enacted law is the only secure answer and that needs to be our strategy.

As for fanning the flames of Bush hatred, remember George W. Bush didn't sign the Defense of Marriage Act or give us "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Those brilliant acts of presidential power are the legacy of your beloved Bill Clinton.

Bush, a conservative Christian, came to power with the broad support of conservatives. Our president, at political cost to him and counter to the desire of his strongest supporters, has offered several, nuanced gestures to our community. Laura Bush is no free-talking Betty Ford and the "news" that the first lady does not support a constitutional amendment was intentional. Dick Cheney and his family are similarly disciplined and the timing and content of Mary Cheney's book tour was also intentional. Most significant was President Bush's own recent radio address. Although he stated his support for the constitutional amendment he also stated very clearly that "state legislatures [will] remain free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage."

This was an important, pivotal statement aimed squarely at the gay community. It was almost as if the president was saying, "Hey look, I'm a Republican, leading a country the majority of whose citizens do not now support gay marriage and supported by a base enraged by judicial activism. I can't give you gay marriage any more than your beloved Clintons could, but your state legislatures can create civil unions – that will work!"

A conservative, Republican president has opened the door by at a minimum acknowledging the possibility of state-created civil unions. We should take him up on this and make it happen.

Joseph Lovestone

San Francisco

SFAF's outspoken leader

Thank you to Matthew Bajko for an insightful article about my friend Mark Cloutier's first year as executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation ["SFAF's Cloutier sets new tone," June 1] . Clearly, Mark's stewardship of this critical institution at the quarter century mark of the pandemic is needed. His refusal to accept that there are "sacred cows" in the fight against the epidemic will ensure that the foundation will remain relevant to the needs of the local community and inspire the staff at the foundation to continue to lead the nation in innovative prevention and care programs.

As a longtime Pat Christen supporter I am encouraged to see that the board of directors of the foundation continues to believe that the foundation's executive director must remain outspoken and visionary.

The entire HIV/AIDS community should be grateful that Mark has been given this opportunity to lead.

Mike Marshall, Executive Director

Under One Roof

San Francisco

SFAF's Cloutier responds

Thank you for the recent article covering my first year as executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I appreciated the attention given to our speed project, which is working to address the damage that is being done to gay men as a result of meth use; as well as to our other excellent programs and public policy work. I am, and have always been a supporter and admirer of Pat Christen's leadership of SFAF. Her vision, courage, and determination produced an institution whose prevention programs helped to turn the tide on the epidemic in the mid 1980s. Her understanding of the need to challenge government to respond to the epidemic at an appropriate level resulted in the creation by congress of the Ryan White Care Act, which now provides $2 billion dollars each year for care for hundreds of thousands of Americans with HIV.

I appreciated the comments Michael Weinstein made as president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The public policy focus of SFAF will continue to be based on the best science and public health strategies – and we will actively work with all organizations and leaders who share that approach. We agree with AHF on a number of issues. We do, however, differ from AHF on their positions on the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act, which we fear would result in the loss of funding for critical services such as substance use treatment and housing for people with HIV.

Mark Cloutier, Executive Director

San Francisco AIDS Foundation

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