Bayard Rustin, an LGBTQ civil rights activist, was granted a posthumous pardon almost 33 years after his death.
What We Know:
- Rustin, confidant of civil rights legend Martin Luther King Jr., was posthumously pardoned for an arrest in 1953 by Governor Gavin Newsom.
- Authorities arrested Rustin for participating in same-sex acts with two men in a parked car in Pasadena. At that time, authorities unfairly punished adult individuals for engaging in consensual same-sex acts.
- According to HuffPost, Rustin had to register as a sex offender and spent 50 days in Los Angeles County Jail, before returning to his home state of New York.
- Furthermore, during that time, vagrancy, loitering, and sodomy were often implied to punish lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ).
- California Governor Gavin Newsom also declared an executive order to begin a new clemency initiative. The declaration is for those who might be eligible for pardons and swiftly conder those applications; he urged California to grant clemency for those that meet the criteria.
- HuffPost added that both Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber told Newsom that the civil rights leader’s family and friends knew he was gay. Rustin’s closet political and religious affiliates distanced themselves after his arrest.
- Weiner said in a statement, “Generations of LGBT people — including countless gay men — were branded criminals and sex offenders simply because they had consensual sex.” She then added, “This was often life-running, and many languished on the sex offender registry for decades.”
- Weber also proclaimed that the pardon helps to maintain Rustin’s legacy in the civil rights movement.
- California took a major step in repealing the egregious laws against consensual same-sex acts between adults in 1975; and, the state created a solution for removing individuals from the California Sex Offender Registry; but, neither of the steps aided the original convictions.
- Finally, Rustin lost his leadership post at the Fellowship Reconciliation — a pacifist organization involved in the civil rights movement — after Senator Strom Thurman of South Carolina read Rustin’s arrest file into the Congressional Record.
In the past, President Obama presented Rustin with a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his important work in Civil Rights/Activism.