Revisionist book by The New York Times reporter Jo Becker raises questions about possible ethics violations in San Francisco City Attorney's Office
Activist and muckraking blogger Michael Petrelis has obtained public records from San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office, showing how San Francisco city employees on the City "clock" were coordinating with The New York Times reporter Jo Becker and her various publicists to promote her controversial new book about the marriage equality movement, "Forcing the Spring." The 110-pages of public records is available on Google Drive.
In an e-mail Mr. Petrelis sent to Ms. Becker, to top editors of The New York Times, and to Mr. Herrera, Mr. Petrelis forwarded a link to his latest blog post and asked, "Will the San Francisco media continue to ignore these serious ethical lapses at the City Attorney's office ?"
Mr. Petrelis, like many LGBT activists, bloggers, and leaders, have been outraged by the inaccuracies of the modern social movement for marriage equality in the United States, as presented in Ms. Becker's book. Many reviewers of Ms. Becker's book believe that she gives too much credit to the recent progress of marriage equality across the United States to, amongst others, Chad Griffin, who was one of many individuals involved in the litigation to overturn California's controversial Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages when the ballot initiative was passed in 2008. Incredulous as it may seem, Ms. Becker called Mr. Griffin the gay "Rosa Parks."
For his part, Mr. Petrelis has been blogging about Ms. Becker's scandalous book, reporting about how the San Francisco City Attorney's office has been using city infrastructure, city employees' time, and other city resources to promote Ms. Becker's inaccurate book.
- RELATED : KQED Gay Reporter Rims Jo Becker, SF City Atty Herrera's Butts (The Petrelis Files)
- RELATED : How NYT's Jo Becker Made SF City Attorney's Office Her PR Firm (The Petrelis Files)
- RELATED : SF City Attorney Paid Griffin How Much as His Prop 8 Adviser ? (The Petrelis Files)
One wonders whether city investigators in San Francisco will question the use of taxpayer resources for Ms. Becker's private profit.
In the aftermath of the Stonewall riots of 1969, political activism by gays, lesbians, and trans* New Yorkers took off. In 1971, members of the Gay Activist Alliance in New York City "zapped" the city's marriage office, occupying it with the radical demand gays and lesbians be allowed to get married. The activists threw an "engagement party for two male couples," complete with "wedding cake decorated with two grooms and two brides," according to a YouTube video of the protest. In this emboldened new era, demands to end marriage discrimination crossed over into the mainstream. According to Mr. Petrelis' blog :
… On May 2, 1974, a one-hour debate organized as a mock trial and aired on a show called "The Advocates, The PBS Debate of the Week", and the subject was "Should Marriage Between Homosexuals Be Permitted ?" and the event was held on the University of California at Irvine campus. Leading the charge for the gays was longtime gay pioneer Frank Kameny who was masterful in his presentation and how he framed his arguments. …
Joining Kameny were out lesbian Elaine Noble who was a professor at Emerson College at the time, a year before she was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Dr. Richard Green, a psychiatrist from UCLA, and quite the bear but I don't what his sexual orientation is.
The opposing side was led by Florida civil rights attorney Tobias Simon, who was joined by Robin Smith at Occidental College, and Dr. Charles Socarides, listed as an Associate Clinical Professor at Albert Einstein Medical School.
Socarides was the father two blights upon the LGBT community, the first being the now-discredited bogus "conversion therapy" that held a person with same-sex attractions could be changed to desire the opposite sex, and the second was his son Richard Socarides, a Democratic political strategist who holds the dubious distinction of having written talking points for President Bill Clinton deflecting LGBT advocates' anger over the signing of the Defense of Marriage Act when he was the White House gay liaison. … (Frank Kameny v. Charles Socarides: 1974 PBS Gay Marriage Debate * The Petrelis Files)
In the intervening years, as the cumulative effect of LGBT political organizing grew grew, the arc of legal treatment towards the community grew from one viewing us based on our "sexual preferences" to one being based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," the difference being that we were stopped seeing as making a choice about our sexuality and instead being born this way, an easier argument to make for being born with natural rights and liberties, making the community's demands for equality easier to make. (The way that our community identified itself also change, from being termed "homosexuals" to "gays" to "gays and lesbians" to GLBT to LGBT, etc.) However, the inevitable backlash against LGBT organizing against discrimination, including against the state-sanctioned discrimination that denied LGBT couples the right to get married, was codified on the federal level by none other than President Bill Clinton, when he signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, in 1996. As alluded to by Mr. Petrelis, President Clinton's treacherous enactment of the law was made possible by the shady help of Richard Socarides, a gay political operative, who many New York City activists view with disdain for having enabled President Clinton to codify federal discrimination against civil marriage rights for LGBT couples. President Clinton later changed his mind about DOMA, but only after it became politically advantageous for him and for his wife, Mrs. Clinton.
Then, in 1999, the Supreme Court of Hawaii ruling in Baehr v. Lewin helped to spark the modern marriage equality movement. Activists were further emboldened by the landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which finally invalidated all state laws against sodomy, a backhanded way that governments had traditionally used to oppressed the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and trans* Americans. A year later, in a nod to how progressive social movements have historically been shown to grow in the United States, Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, added fuel to the fire in the drive for marriage equality by authorizing the city to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. His sole act helped to give hope to a broad spectrum of LGBT activists and allies by showing that a progressive reform made in one municipality could be replicated in other municipalities. The mayor of New Paltz, New York, copied Mayor Newsom's move, but the New Paltz effort was stopped by legal action. Legal action also put a stop to the San Francisco effort, triggering legal action, the whole Prop 8 ballot initiative, and subsequent litigation over Prop 8. When the traditionally conservative state of Iowa instituted same sex marriage rights in 2009 following its own Supreme Court ruling, LGBT activists in New York state where shamed about their inability to make progress on marriage equality in the shadow of leadership in other states, despite New York's reputation for being the nation's undisputed liberal and progressive leader. Marriage equality advocates had always been pressing their cause in New York state, but local politicians, such as former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn never wanted to gamble any of her political capital on risky new government policy proposals, especially after she had spent years distancing herself from the radical activism that runs the liberal and progressive politics of New York City. Indeed, as the most visible LGBT official in New York City at the time, Ms. Quinn failed to organize the LGBT community in New York to block former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successful effort to quash marriage equality in New York when he appealed, in 2005, a favourable court ruling supporting equal civil marriage rights. After the unrelenting direct action campaign, begun in 2010, by one group, Queer Rising, put marriage equality back on the social agenda, the big money LGBT groups felt more comfortable in deploying resources to support a renewed push for marriage equality in New York state. After marriage equality became law in New York state, activists across the world were inspired by the ability to pass legislation to extend civil marriage rights to LGBT New Yorkers. In the wake of success in New York, marriage equality activists were emboldened to organize and change the laws in such far away nations as France.
LGBT is the most common acronym to describe the minority community oppressed by state-sponsored laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but a more inclusive term is QUILTBAG, which stands for Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer. Although more memorable, QUILTBAG has not gained wider use.