SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he will pardon openly gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin, who was arrested in in 1953 in Pasadena, California, and convicted of “vagrancy” for violating a morality offense that was often used to discriminate against and criminalize LGBTQ+ and Black communities and has since been repealed. Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, joined California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Chair Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Legislative Black Caucus Chair Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) in requesting the governor’s pardon of Rustin two weeks ago. The governor also announced a groundbreaking new clemency initiative to pardon people who were prosecuted in California for being gay.
Equality California released the following statement on Wednesday from Executive Director Rick Zbur:
“Civil rights champion Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ For our friend Governor Newsom, that time is today. We are grateful to the governor for demonstrating our California values by pardoning civil rights hero Bayard Rustin — a trusted aide to Dr. King — and for creating a system for other LGBTQ+ people to seek pardon from unjust convictions. Today, Governor Newsom, and indeed the entire Golden State, did what is right.”
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org