Prop 8 decision puts up red flags to local arts people
By Bruce Bellingham
It was an unusual press release from the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. As the immediate impact of the California State Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Prop 8 was starting to sink in, local arts groups and civic associations were scrambling to head off an explosive backlash.
“While I am personally disappointed with the California Supreme Court’s decision, I encourage all gay and lesbian visitors to experience and embrace the rich diversity that San Francisco represents,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president & CEO of the visitors bureau. “San Francisco has long been at the forefront of the struggle for LGBT rights and our community continues to welcome all couples and recognize and celebrate all unions, despite this ruling.”
Mayor Gavin Newsom was philosophical.
“California, at its best, is a beacon of equal rights and equal opportunities,” he said, “If we want to prosper together, we must respect each other. It is up to every single one of us who supports marriage equality to reach out to those who still disagree with our position, and have a personal conversation about why it is so important to treat every Californian equally.”
That language from Mr. Newsom is a little more conciliatory than “whether you like it or not.”
Lots of people in the theater community were bracing for trouble last Tuesday night.
Promoters of press screenings for movies, such as Disney’s Up, which showed for a select audience at the Castro Theatre, quickly e-mailed reviewers en masse, assuring them that the show would go on, even if there were a riot in the Castro, similar to the White Night Riots of 1979 after a jury gave Dan White a perceived light sentence for murdering George Moscone and Harvey Milk.
“San Francisco has a long history of welcoming the gay and lesbian community,” said Joie de Vivre Hospitality founder and CEO Chip Conley. “Even as recently as this month, the City was named Best Domestic Destination in the U.S. in the 2009 Gay.com Travel Awards.”
Many were not all that surprised by the court’s decision to uphold Prop 8. Seemingly contradictory, though, the justices decided to validate 18,000 same sex marriages.
“I am not surprised at all by the decision, “ said a rueful John Castanon just before the decision. He’s the manager of the popular Florio restaurant on Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights.
“I only hope that my marriage to my partner for life, John P. Carroll, will still be considered valid and legal,” Castanon explained.
With the court’s decision to retain the legal status of 18,000 same sex marriages, Castanon’s marriage is still one for the books, and will remain that way – whether anyone likes it or not.