A day after the federal government observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day, two California representatives are asking the state to posthumously pardon one of King’s close confidantes, Bayard Rustin.
On Jan. 21, 1953, Rustin was arrested for having sex with two men in a parked car in Pasadena, Calif., where he was visiting as part of a lecture tour on anti-colonial struggles in West Africa. He was cited for vagrancy, which the representatives say in a letter was a common charge against gay men engaging in consensual sexual behavior at the time. He served 50 days in Los Angeles County Jail before returning home to New York, but was ordered to register as a sex offender.
“Mr. Rustin’s conviction and registered sex offender status haunted him for the rest of his life, and it continues to tarnish his name, despite his death thirty-three years ago. Indeed, California’s treatment of Mr. Rustin tarnishes our entire state,” Senator Scott Wiener, Chair of the California LGBTQ Caucus, and Assemblymember Shirley Weber, Chair of the California Black Caucus, said in their letter. Full Article