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Sometimes the LGBTQ community baffles me


We now learn that San Francisco Pride, which organizes the city’s world-famous, annual LGBT Parade, is considering banning the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department (which has marched proudly for many years) from participating in this year’s event.

The reason: The Sheriff’s Department was the official law enforcement agency responsible for removing those homeless people in Oakland who had illegally squatted in a privately-owned house. After a local judge ruled that the women deserved eviction, Sheriff’s deputies showed up—in force, due to prior threats—and had the women leave. There were a few arrests, but no violence, thank goodness. (I wrote about this incident last week.)

If SF Pride insults the Sheriff’s Department like this, it will be a very stupid, unthinking thing to do. A majority of gay people, like a majority of all Americans, honors our uniformed officers, who protect and serve us every day, at great risk to their lives. You can differ over the particulars of the eviction—Should it have occurred at all? Was the show of force necessary? Should the women who refused to be evicted have been arrested? These are all questions that can be discussed by reasonable people, who may reach differing conclusions.

Fortunately, only seven of SF Pride’s 326 organizing members want to prevent the Sheriffs from marching. At this point, I don’t know if the larger SF Pride membership will knuckle under to this splinter group’s demands, or if they will listen to the greater LGBT community, which wants the Sheriffs to participate. SF Pride is supposed to decide on Feb. 5 what to do.

The anti-Sheriff’s Department Pride members are venturing into very dangerous and ill-considered territory. Showing a marked hostility to law enforcement, one of their leaders said he would change his position only “if and when [we] feel that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has shown a willingness to change…”. What does this mean? Change from what, to what? A judge rules the women are in serious violation of the law, and that they must be evicted. The Mission of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, according to their website, is “to enforce the law fairly and without bias.” And so the Sheriff’s Department was legally bound to do what they did. They don’t have to apologize for doing their job!

This is why we have Sheriffs. “A Sheriff is typically the top law enforcement officer of a county,” explains the Career Explorer website. “They have a law enforcement role, and have the power to make arrests within their own jurisdiction.”

The National Sheriff’s Association points out that sheriffs first came into existence in England in the 9th century; the word comes from an Old English term related to “shire,” or county. In other words, sheriffs have been keeping the peace in England for over a thousand years; the reason the institution survives is because it’s a useful, necessary one—and a fair one, too.

I’ve never understood the anti-cop bias of many gay activists; some of it is almost psychotic in its fury (“Cops are the enemy” was on one sign from last year’s parade). Sure, gay people have been pushed around by cops for centuries; I myself have been harassed by policemen for being gay. But I’ve been careful to separate my own personal experiences and emotions from my greater conception of the value of law enforcement in America and the role it plays in securing domestic peace and harmony. Are there excesses sometimes committed by individual cops? Sure, just as there are excesses committed by individual doctors, lawyers, bankers, software engineers, and people like you and me. But you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

I’ll be following this situation closely until SF Pride makes their decision. I emailed them urging them to do the right thing and reject the Extremist Seven’s hate-cop ideology. Imagine: The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department WANTS to march, proudly showing their badges and uniforms, with the queers down Market Street next June, to show their respect for, and solidarity with, our community. And a few disgruntled faggots don’t want that? What the hell is wrong with them?

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